An Ashley County jury found a Hamburg man not guilty of first-degree battery when he went to trial on charges related to a shooting that happened last August.

On August 5, 2018, Billy Bassett 44, of Hamburg was arrested and charged with first degree battery after allegedly shooting Milton Cessor.

According to the original reports made by the responding officers, the incident occurred after a dispute at a private residence. Cessor, Bassett and others were allegedly at a residence that Bassett “was looking after” while the property owner was away. Bassett said he had been informed by the property owner — his wife’s uncle — that people would be coming to retrieve certain items. According to other witness testimony at the trial, Cessor went to the property with his wife to assist with retrieving the items.

The initial report at the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department said that while Cessor, his wife, and other family members were present, there was a disagreement that led to an altercation between Bassett and Cessor. Witnesses at trial testified that Cessor and Bassett were struggling over a 9-mm handgun when it “went off,” ultimately injuring Cessor. Cessor was then transported to the University of Arkansas of Medical Science to be treated for gunshot wounds to his stomach and bicep.

The original report said the gun allegedly belonged to Bassett, who was arrested on the scene, and the gun was later retrieved from Bassett’s camper.

ACSO Investigating officer Mark Griever testified on the day of trial and affirmed the information filed in the initial reports and that Bassett was arrested on scene. Bassett also testified at the trial, confirming that the two were struggling over the gun and claiming that it was an accident.

After hearing from Griever, the defendant and other witnesses who were present when the incident occurred, the jury returned with a not guilty verdict after an hour of deliberation.

Griever said that though Bassett admitted to shooting Cessor, the action was not purposeful.

“He admits to shooting him, but said it was an accident,” Griever said after the trial.

“The statute uses the word ‘purposeful,’ and the jury determined the shooting was not purposeful.”

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