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Blackwell v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

February 18, 2015

JULIA ELIZABETH BLACKWELL, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

Page 849

APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST DIVISION. NO. 60CR-10-2047. HONORABLE LEON JOHNSON, JUDGE.

Debra J. Reece, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge. HARRISON and GLOVER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 850

RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

A Pulaski County jury convicted Julia Blackwell of felony negligent homicide, manslaughter, and third-degree battery. The jury sentenced Blackwell to ten years' imprisonment for felony negligent homicide and fined her $500 for battery. Blackwell now appeals her conviction, arguing that the circuit court erred when it denied her motion to suppress and her motion to dismiss.[1] We affirm.

On March 28, 2010, a car driven by Blackwell hit a seventy-nine-year-old man, Ralph John Friedmann, who was walking on a sidewalk alongside Breckenridge Drive in Little Rock. Friedmann sustained several injuries. Immediately following the accident, Little Rock police officers transported Blackwell to Baptist Hospital where Blackwell gave a urine sample. Blackwell was then transported to jail. At the jail, Blackwell gave a second urine sample.

On June 8, 2010, Friedmann died from his injuries, and on June 24, 2010, the State charged Blackwell with felony negligent homicide and third-degree battery. Blackwell pled not guilty to the charges.

On April 20, 2012, Blackwell filed a motion to suppress the urine samples taken at Baptist Hospital and at the jail. Blackwell argued that the samples violated her Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights and Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-65-205. Blackwell also argued that officials failed to maintain a proper chain of custody of the samples.

On August 7, 2013, the circuit court held a suppression hearing. At the hearing, the State's witnesses included Sergeant Greg Birkhead, Officer Natasha (" Tasha" ) Sims, Amanda Shere, Carrie Frederick, Sarah Dougan, Andrea Swift, and Rebecca Carlisle.

Sergeant Greg Birkhead of the Little Rock Police Department testified that on March 28, 2010, he went to Baptist Hospital to retrieve a blood sample from Blackwell. He stated that when he asked Blackwell for a blood draw, she continually refused and asked to speak with her attorney.

Page 851

Sergeant Birkhead told Blackwell that she was not entitled to an attorney at that time but could call her attorney once she was booked at the jail. After Blackwell refused to give a sample, Sergeant Birkhead contacted personnel in his department to try to get a search warrant to draw Blackwell's blood. However, he could not obtain a warrant. Sergeant Birkhead testified that Officer Sims heard Blackwell refuse to give samples and knew that he had tried to get a search warrant. Sergeant Birkhead also stated that he later witnessed Officer Sims and ...


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