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Ark. man pleads not guilty to kidnapping his child

The attorney for a man accused of kidnapping his 19-month-old daughter and stabbing her mother says no crime was committed when her client left with the toddler.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The lawyer for an Arkansas man accused of crashing into his daughter's mother's car, stabbing the woman with an ice pick and making off with the 19-month-old girl said Thursday that her client broke no laws and didn't hurt the girl in any way.

Jasmine Crockett, a Texarkana attorney for Ralph Morrison III, said Morrison disputes the accounts witnesses gave state police Sunday about the events that led to his arrest.

"Right now he's pretty upset about the entire situation," Crockett said of her client. "He definitely disagrees with what has been conveyed to law enforcement about what happened."

According to Howard County Sheriff's department, witnesses said Morrison drove head-on into the car carrying Amaria Webster, their daughter Zahkairi Morrison, and two other people on Sunday near Tollette, then beat and stabbed Webster and fled into some nearby woods with the girl. State police issued a missing child alert, and Morrison turned himself into the U.S. Marshals Service in Texarkana on Tuesday. Police said Zahkairi was unharmed and Webster has been released from the hospital.

Crockett said police have it wrong.

"There was no court order that prevented him from having custody of his child," Crockett said. "His child was never harmed in any way."

Prosecutor Bryan Chesshir did not immediately respond to a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

Morrison pleaded not guilty to the four counts of aggravated assault, one count of second-degree battery and one count of kidnapping during his arraignment Wednesday in Howard County. Judge Tom Cooper increased Morrison's bond from $250,000 to $500,000 and set a trial date of July 24. In the meantime, Morrison is set for another bond hearing on April 25 and Crocket said she will try to reduce the amount of bail money needed.

 

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