Michelle Barrett, age 50, of Little Rock was sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction following a jury trial in front of the Honorable Josh Farmer on March 7, 2023. The defendant was charged with Residential Burglary and Failure to Appear and was found guilty on both offenses.
On June 9, 2022, Kimberly Chaudoin was about to leave her job in Sheridan when she began to receive images on her phone from security cameras she had placed inside and outside her home on McPherson Ridge in the Sardis area of Mabelvale. She watched as two women wearing wigs and a man removed her air conditioning unit from a window and entered her residence. She called her neighbor and police who quickly responded and caught the burglars at the home. The intruders loaded the air conditioner into the back of the vehicle they were driving, and collected items from inside and placed them in boxes near the door.
Barrett told police that they were there to buy the property. She then changed the story to say that they had been given permission by a neighbor to enter the residence. Ms. Chaudoin stated that her home was not for sale, and she did not have a sign in her yard, nor had she advertised her home for sale. She stated that she did not know the three burglars who were identified as Michelle Barrett, Rocky Bennett and Crystal Upperman.
Both Bennett and Upperman pled guilty to the burglary prior to Barrett’s trial. At the trial, Barrett testified that she had only given a ride to Upperman and Bennett. She stated she was picking blackberries in the yard and did not know that the other two were burglarizing the residence. However, the State produced still photographs from the security camera that showed Barrett in the house. The State also presented evidence that she and Upperman had drastically altered their appearance with the wigs.
In addition, Barrett was convicted of Failure to Appear because she missed a court date in January and could offer no reasonable excuse for her absence. She testified that she was sick with COVID but did not supply any evidence that would corroborate her claim. The jury sentenced her to a concurrent term of three years for this crime.
“Victims of residential burglaries feel alarmed and violated when someone they don’t know comes into their home invading their privacy and handling their property,” stated Prosecuting Attorney Chris Walton. “I am glad that Ms. Chaudoin, her neighbor, and the Saline County Sheriff’s Office acted swiftly to catch the burglars in the act and prevent any further damage or loss.”
The State was represented by Saline County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Rebecca Bush and Carrie Robertson and the defendant was represented by Chief Public Defender Jonathan Camp.