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Booth v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 22, 2014

DERRICK LAMONT BOOTH, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH DIVISION. NO. 60CR-12-3455. HONORABLE WENDELL L. GRIFFEN, JUDGE.

Clint Miller, Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Laura Shue, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge. WHITEAKER and HIXSON, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 901

WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE.

On October 5, 2012, at around 4:20 p.m., Little Rock firemen were dispatched to 3 Althea Circle, the address of a house owned by Jacqueline Booth--Clark, appellant's wife. When the firemen arrived at the house, light smoke was coming from a bedroom on the right side of the residence. The house's doors were locked and the windows were closed. The firemen entered the house by breaking down the front door, and extinguished a fire they found inside a bedroom. The door to this bedroom had been shut.

A jury trial was held on July 9-10, 2013. At trial, appellant moved for a directed verdict at the close of the State's case alleging that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he set a fire at his wife's home.[1] His motion was denied. At the close of all the evidence, appellant renewed his motion. The court again denied his motion. The jury found appellant guilty of Class A felony arson. In the sentencing phase, the jury could not reach a sentencing verdict. In lieu of the jury sentencing appellant, the circuit court judge sentenced him, as a habitual offender, to serve twelve years' imprisonment. A sentencing order reflecting the same was entered on July 24, 2013. It is from this order that appellant timely appeals.

Appellant argues that the circuit court erred by not directing a verdict in his favor on the arson charge. The State argues that the circuit court correctly denied the appellant's directed-verdict motion because there was sufficient evidence to convict him of arson.

A motion for directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence.[2]

Page 902

In a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and considers only the evidence that supports the conviction.[3] In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial.[4] Evidence is substantial if it is of sufficient force and character to compel reasonable minds to reach a conclusion and pass beyond suspicion and conjecture.[5] We affirm a conviction if substantial evidence exists to support it.[6] The trier of fact resolves the questions of conflicting testimony, inconsistent evidence, and credibility.[7] We will disturb the jury's determination only if the evidence did not meet the required standards, thereby leaving the jury to speculation and conjecture in reaching its verdict.[8]

For circumstantial evidence to be relied on, it must exclude every other reasonable hypothesis other than the guilt of the accused, or it does not amount to substantial evidence.[9] The question of whether circumstantial evidence excludes every other reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence is for the fact-finder to decide.[10] On review, this court must determine whether the fact-finder resorted to speculation and conjecture in reaching the verdict.[11]

Appellant was charged with arson. A person commits arson if he or she starts a fire with the purpose of destroying or otherwise damaging an occupiable structure that is the property of another person.[12] Appellant contends that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict. He argues that while the State proved that appellant had opportunity and motive, it failed to ...


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