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Reynolds v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

May 19, 2016



          Philip C Wilson, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RHONDA K. WOOD, Associate Justice

         Edward Joseph Reynolds appeals a jury's verdict finding him guilty of kidnapping and aggravated assault. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to consecutive sentences of life imprisonment and fifteen years' imprisonment, respectively. On appeal, Reynolds contends that the circuit court erred by (1) denying his directed-verdict motions on both charges; (2) allowing the victim to testify about her injuries despite the prosecutor's failure to provide her medical records in discovery; and (3) overruling his objection to remarks made by the prosecutor during closing argument. We find no error and affirm.

         I. Relevant Facts

         In October 2014, Rachel Wake, the victim, Reynolds, her boyfriend, and Michael Watters, Reynolds's friend, resided together. One evening in late October, Wake accompanied Reynolds to his workplace. While there, the couple got into an argument and Reynolds choked her. She screamed, and unbeknownst to either of them, two of Reynolds's coworkers witnessed the incident.

         Reynolds lost his job as a result of the incident. He became irate and told Wake that since he lost his job, she was going to lose her life. He tied her up at the foot of their bed with cables from an exercise machine. He bound her arms and feet together behind her back and secured them with padlocks. He then wrapped a cable around her neck and attached it to the cables restraining her arms and legs so that she had to hold her head up to keep from choking. He also placed a gag around her mouth. He beat her until her eyes were swollen shut. Reynolds told Wake he was going to kill her, and he and Watters discussed where they would drop her body. Reynolds also threatened to behead Wake's son and leave his head in the room with her for three days.

         Eventually, Reynolds released Wake. He helped her bathe to wash off the blood. She then got in bed with Reynolds and slept. Wake testified that Reynolds had been doing drugs throughout the ordeal and that she knew that if she outlasted his drugs, she would live. Two days later, Reynolds and Wake went to get more drugs at Clarence Stillman's home. While at his house, Wake asked Stillman to call her mother. Wake's mother arrived and took Wake to her house. She later called the police, and an ambulance took Wake to the hospital. At the hospital, Wake was treated for a concussion, two minor fractures to her wrist and pinky finger, and contusions to her neck, throat, and chest.

         The police obtained a search warrant for Reynolds's home a few days later. They retrieved several cables, which were detached from the exercise machine, and locks. Blood samples taken from the carpet near the foot of the bed in Reynolds's bedroom matched Wake's DNA. The State filed kidnapping and aggravated-assault charges against Reynolds and Watters. Watters later pleaded guilty in exchange for a suspended sentence and his testimony against Reynolds. The jury found Reynolds guilty of both charges. During the penalty phase of the trial, the State introduced evidence of Reynolds's eleven prior convictions. Reynolds was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping and fifteen years for aggravated assault, with the sentences to run consecutively. Thus, this court's jurisdiction is pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 1-2(a)(2) (2015).

         II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         Reynolds argues that the circuit court erred by not granting his motion for directed verdict because the State failed to introduce substantial evidence that he restrained Wake for the purpose of terrorizing her or that he engaged in life-threatening activity against her. A directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Williamson v. State, 2009 Ark. 568, 350 S.W.3d 787. In reviewing a sufficiency challenge, we determine whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id. Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force and character that it will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other, without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Id. This court does not weigh the evidence presented at trial or assess the credibility of the witnesses, as those are matters for the fact-finder. Riding v. State, 360 Ark. 424, 203 S.W.3d 63 (2005). The trier of fact is free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and inconsistent evidence. Id. On appeal from a denial of a directed verdict, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the appellee and affirms if there is substantial evidence to support the verdict. Id.

         A person commits the offense of kidnapping when he restrains another person, without consent, so as to interfere substantially with the other person's liberty with the purpose of terrorizing the person. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-11-102(a)(6) (Repl. 2013). "Restraint without consent" includes restraint by physical force, threat, or deception. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-11-101(3)(A). A person acts purposely with respect to his conduct or a result of his conduct when it is his conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause that result. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202(1).

         A person commits aggravated assault when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he purposely engages in conduct that creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-204(a)(1). "Serious physical injury" is defined as "physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ." Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-102(21).

         Reynolds claims there was insufficient evidence that he restrained Wake for the purpose of terrorizing her because he eventually untied her hands, allowed her to untie the remaining restraints, and helped her take a bath. He ...

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