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Scott-Paxson v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 4, 2015

CRYSTAL SCOTT-PAXSON, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CR-2012-410-2. HONORABLE ROBERT H. WYATT, JR., JUDGE.

Potts Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Priest, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge. HARRISON and VAUGHT, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 312

PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge

Crystal Scott-Paxson appeals her Jefferson County conviction of first-degree murder, arguing there was insufficient evidence that she purposely caused the death of James " Sandy" Johnson. Because there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could find that Scott-Paxson acted purposely, we affirm.

The test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Russell v. State, 367 Ark. 557, 560, 242 S.W.3d 265, 267 (2006). When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence that led to a conviction, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the State. Id. Only evidence supporting the verdict will be considered. Id. Thus, we start with a discussion of the pertinent facts surrounding Johnson's death.

In June 2012, Scott-Paxson admittedly shot and killed her boyfriend, Sandy Johnson. The two, Scott-Paxson and Johnson, had been involved in an escalating dispute throughout the course of the day. The dispute started early in the morning with Johnson acting " mean" toward Scott-Paxson and ended in a " fight." Johnson left the house after this first altercation. When Johnson returned later that day, the two got into another " fight." Johnson had been drinking and, during this second altercation, he threw a cup at Scott-Paxson. After the altercation, Johnson drove Scott-Paxson to her home to retrieve her car and then left for a party. Scott-Paxson went shopping before returning to Johnson's house to prepare dinner.

When Johnson returned home after the party, he was drunk. He began calling Scott-Paxson derogatory names. Based on her past altercations with Johnson, Scott-Paxson recognized Johnson's behavior as a pattern of escalation usually ending in physical violence toward her. As a result, Scott-Paxson retrieved a .38 revolver from the top of a safe and placed it under a sofa cushion beside her. While seated in a recliner, Johnson threw a cup of wine at Scott-Paxson. At that point, Scott-Paxson pulled the revolver from beneath the couch pillow and emptied it into Johnson, shooting him five times.

Based upon this evidence, Scott-Paxson was convicted of first-degree murder. First-degree murder is defined in Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-10-102(a)(2), which provides in relevant part:

(a) A person commits murder in the first degree if:
. . .
(2) With a purpose of causing the death of another person, the person causes the ...

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