BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Rogers man signed a plea agreement that will send him to prison for 18 years for interfering with a murder investigation in Bentonville.
Shannon Schmidt, 51, reached the plea deal on February 6 in Benton County circuit court. He was charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering apprehension or prosecution in connection with the 2021 killing of Bryon Blackmon, 30.
According to court documents, Schmidt made conflicting statements to investigators regarding his involvement in Blackmon’s killing. Zachary Avans, 23, was arrested for capital murder on April 29, 2021 and eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case in September, 2022.
Avans and his girlfriend lived with Schmidt at the time of Blackmon’s murder and police executed a search warrant at their residence on April 30, 2021. Schmidt consented to a non-custodial interview with police during which he discussed Avans’ actions and whereabouts on the night Blackmon was killed.
Schmidt said that he did not remember Avans “acting or doing anything suspicious,” and he acted surprised when told that a firearm was used in the murder. Schmidt initially said that he “did not think he was out,” but soon changed his story and said that he had driven Avans to Bentonville and picked him up.
Police later learned that Schmidt sent messages to Avans “because he was suspicious.” Schmidt told investigators that his .40 caliber pistol was locked in the center console of his vehicle “all day” but a store’s security video showed Schmidt wearing it in a holster on his hip on the night Blackmon was murdered.
“I honestly don’t remember having the gun on me at all,” he said during a second interview with police. “I don’t remember having it until going back out, honest.”
Police then showed Schmidt photos taken from security cameras in his own home that indicated Schmidt also had the gun on his hip after coming home from work, before the murder.
Court documents report that Schmidt also texted his stepdaughter a message that read, “If anyone asks, I was at home all night.”
“I was getting scared,” Schmidt said when asked about sending that text. “I have seen cop shows and just being in the neighborhood half the time, you can go to jail.”
Even more discrepancies arose in Schmidt’s story during a third police interview on July 22, 2021. This time, he made a new mention of Avans’ asking to borrow Schmidt’s gun. He also mentioned a pick-up truck blocking the driveway where he dropped Avans off, something he had not brought up before.
Schmidt also mentioned asking Avans if he “got his wallet,” when in early interviews he had revealed no such detail regarding Avans’ actions. Schmidt continued to deny shooting Blackmon or being in the house when he was shot.
On February 6, Judge Robin Green signed an order that Schmidt be transported to the Arkansas Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.