A 42-year-old inmate convicted of capital murder in Boone County about 15 years ago has asked Governor Mike Beebe to commute his life without parole sentence.
Governor Mike Beebe
Guy Eugene Pace Jr. pleaded guilty murdering his father, Guy Pace Sr., and shooting his stepmother, Carol, and brother, Buck, in the head before leaving their residence and setting the trailer on fire on his way out.
The younger Pace’s wife, Tonie, was involved in the crimes and she pleaded guilty as well. Both were sentenced to prison.
In 1998, Tonie Pace applied for a two-day furlough from prison and Carol Pace objected. She told the story of the grisly events on Dec. 16, 1994.
Carol said she and Guy Sr. had adopted Guy Jr. and Tonie’s then 2-year-old daughter. They had just bought a new trailer and had moved all their furniture into it; Dec. 16 would have been their first night in the new trailer.
Guy Jr. and Tonie went to the new trailer for one of their monthly visits to his father’s home. Carol said at the time that those visits were usually to get money to cover hot checks they’d written. (Guy Jr. is also serving time for hot checks along with the murder, records show.)
They all watched a movie with the visitors, who were ready to leave after about an hour. Carol said Guy Jr. said he was going to get a pack of cigarettes from his vehicle. His father offered him one of his cigarettes, but the younger Pace said he’d changed brands and went outside.
In just a couple of minutes, he came back inside. Carol said she had been engrossed in the movie and didn’t turn to see him return. But she did return when she heard a gunshot and whirled around to see that Guy Jr. had shot his father.
“I turned around and the gun was pointed at me,” Carol said in 1998. “He points the gun at me. I hear nothing, but the force of the bullet forced me back in the chair.
“He walks over and sticks it to Buck’s head and pulls the trigger. After he shoots Buck, he points the gun at me and it clicks. It’s jammed or something. He points it at Buck again and it’s still jammed.”
He then told Tonie to get the child and get out of the trailer.
“He rips the phone out of the wall. He sets the kitchen curtains on fire. He asked where the car keys are, that his truck’s out of gas,” Carol said.
She told him the keys were in Guy Sr.’s pocket and he took them. She said her purse was on the bar and he “rummaged through that,” eventually retrieving cash from his dead father’s pocket as well.
“He’s screaming the whole time,” Carol said. “I convince him I’m paralyzed and cannot move because he’s walking around with a butcher knife in his hand.”
Guy Jr. went into a back room. Carol said Buck had not yet passed out, but she “told him to just shut up, close your eyes right now.”
Guy Jr. came back in the room and flames were beginning to engulf the kitchen.
She was slumped over a chair, she said, and Guy Jr. thought she couldn’t move. He told her she would “burn to death.”
The man walked out the front door, stabbing Buck with the knife and leaving it in his chest, Carol said.
“I remember asking my son, ‘Is there any way you can lock the door, Buck?’ and Buck reached over and locked the door,” she said.
Guy Jr. tried to get back in, but he couldn’t so he stood outside screaming. Eventually, Guy Jr. and Tonie got in his parents car and sat for a while.
After they left, Carol and Buck — he’d already wrenched the butcher knife from his chest — put out the fire with a dishpan and water from the sink. She went to her mother’s house to call for help and by the time she returned, Guy Sr. was dead.
Guy and Tonie Pace both pleaded guilty to those crimes in 1995.
Tonie was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but she is no longer listed as a prison inmate. Guy is still serving life without parole in Cummins Prison at Grady.
A legal notice states the Arkansas Board of Parole is scheduled to meet in or about August 2010 to consider the merits of Guy Jr.’s application before making a recommendation to the governor, although that recommendation is not binding on the governor.
Anyone who wishes to comment or express opinions on the application must do so in writing before the board meets. Comments can be mailed to Parole Administrator, Department of Community Corrections, 2801 South Olive St., Suite 6D, Pine Bluff, AR 71603.