Area teacher dies after baseball bat beating

Dr. James Carlton's desk looks the same as it did the day he taught what would be his final class at Hughes High School in Arkansas.  But there are new projects on the wall.  They were made by students in his memory.

"You know, he didn't need the money," said administrator Mike Manning.  "He was working because he loved the kids," he added.

Manning says Carlton came to Hughes High out of retirement.  The 68 year-old educator just felt he had more to give.

"Kids have been coming up and saying "it's just wrong what they did," said Manning.

Carlton was beaten with a baseball bat inside his mobile home on the edge of town.  LaTasha Poney and her boyfriend, James Washington, were arrested the next day.  They were charged with beating and robbing Carlton.  Police said they used his money to buy crack cocaine.

We're told Dr. Carlton probably opened the door for the duo because one of their faces was familiar to him.  He often paid LaTasha Poney to clean his home.

"They beat him very severely," said Manning.  "Actually left him for dead," he added.  "But he was able to call 911."

Carlton died late Monday night at The MED, two weeks after the beating.  Both Poney and Washington will now be charged with Capital Murder.

"I think they should be put under the penitentiary," said student Bianca Craft.

Students harbor only hate for the pair of accused killers.

"I think it was sad," said Danielle Stewart.  "Cause everybody at school loved Dr. Carlton," she added.

School officials say Dr. Carlton volunteered his time whenever students needed tutoring, help filling out college applications -- even a bus ride to the county fair.  Hughes High School plans to dedicate a tree on campus in the agricultural science teacher's memory.

Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.