Crawford coroner arrested for disorderly conduct, obstructing police

Crawford County’s coroner said he was arrested Friday night by Roberta police on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and obstructing police.

Coroner Allen O’Neal, 56, said newly hired Police Chief Marlin Markental took him into custody about 6 p.m. after the two got into an argument about O’Neal’s son receiving a traffic ticket for broken taillights and a cracked windshield.

O’Neal said Markental forcibly kicked him out of the Roberta City Hall and that after O’Neal refused to leave, Markental had him arrested.

“He kept shouting ‘arrest him, arrest him,’” O’Neal said.

O’Neal’s son bailed him out of jail that night on a $900 cash bond, O’Neal said.

Officials at the Crawford County sheriff’s office and the Roberta Police Department refused to comment Saturday evening on the incident, or to give any official account of the police department’s story until the investigation has been completed.

Mayor Becky Smith said the city’s lawyers had advised them not to talk to the media, and Markental could not be reached personally to comment.

O’Neal, who has worked in the county coroner’s office since 1981, said he thinks the city police made a mistake in arresting him.

“I think the police chief came unhinged. He told me it was his City Hall, and that I had to leave. As far as I know, the City Hall is a public place, and I’m a public official who has a right to be there,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal said he’s confident the charges will be dropped and he will keep his job as coroner.

To contact writer Carl Lewis, call 744-4347.