FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17CR-14-616]
HONORABLE GARY COTTRELL, JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Blake Wright is appealing his conviction by a Crawford County
jury of aggravated assault upon a certified law-enforcement
officer and first-degree terroristic
threatening. He argues that the State
presented insufficient evidence to support the convictions.
December 23, 2014, Deputy James Mirus and Corporal Matt
McGrew, both of the Crawford County Sheriff's Department,
responded to a domestic-violence report by Wright's
girlfriend, Priscilla Johnson. Based on statements given by
Johnson, the officers arrested Wright at his home. Deputy
Mirus testified that, as they walked Wright outside to the
patrol vehicle, he was screaming at the officers, cursing at
them, and making threats of physical harm toward them and
their families. Wright also told the officers that he has
AIDS. He threatened to break down the plexiglass divider in
the patrol car, choke and kill Deputy Mirus, and infect him
with AIDS. Wright told the officers that he had three
previous charges for assaulting police officers and that he
would have a fourth charge by the end of the night.
Mirus testified that, as he was exiting Interstate 49 onto
Interstate 40, he heard Wright's seatbelt unbuckle.
Wright was kicking, screaming, cursing, and threatening to
kill the officer. He was hitting his head on the window, and
Deputy Mirus heard air coming in the windows from outside. He
also kicked the plexiglass divider so hard that it caused the
shotgun to fall from its mount, hitting Mirus in the nose and
Mirus called for backup and then pulled over at a weigh
station to calm Wright and to secure his seatbelt. As soon as
he opened the back door, Wright began lunging at him and
spitting at him. Wright spit on the officer's arm. Deputy
Mirus warned him that if he did not calm down, he would be
"pepper sprayed." Wright continued to lunge and
spit, and Mirus sprayed him with pepper spray. Additional
officers arrived as backup. They testified that Wright was
angry and agitated. Emergency medical-care providers arrived
and decontaminated Wright of the pepper spray.
trial, Deputy Mirus testified that, while he had not been
fearful of Wright's threats of immediate physical harm,
he was afraid of Wright's threat to harm his family. He
testified that because they lived in a small town, it was
very likely that Wright would encounter Mirus's family at
some point after release.
Matt McGrew testified that while assisting in Wright's
arrest he did not hear Wright make any threats toward either
him or Deputy Mirus.
jury convicted Wright, and the court imposed concurrent
three-year sentences and fines for aggravated assault and
terroristic threatening. He filed a timely appeal. On appeal,
Wright's only arguments are challenges to the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting the two convictions.
reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to
support a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State, considering only the
evidence that tends to support the verdict. Satterfield
v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 633, at 2, 448 S.W.3d 211, 213.
We will affirm if the finding of guilt is supported by
substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id.
Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force to
compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or
conjecture. Id. The weight of the evidence and
credibility of the witnesses are matters for the fact-finder,
not for the trial court on a directed-verdict motion or this
court on appeal. Id. The fact-finder is free to
believe all or part of a witness's testimony and may
resolve all questions of conflicting testimony and
inconsistent evidence. Id.
was convicted of aggravated assault upon a certified
law-enforcement officer, which is defined by Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-13-211 (Repl. 2013) as follows:
A person commits aggravated assault upon a certified law
enforcement officer or an employee of a correctional facility
if, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to
the personal hygiene of the certified law enforcement officer
or employee of the correctional facility, the person
purposely engages in conduct that creates a potential danger
of infection to the certified law enforcement officer or an
employee of any state or local correctional facility while
the certified law enforcement officer or employee of the
state or local correctional facility is engaged in the course
of his or her employment by causing a person whom the actor
knows to be a certified law enforcement officer or employee
of the state or local correctional facility to come into
contact with saliva, blood, urine, feces, seminal fluid, or
other bodily fluid by purposely throwing, tossing, expelling,
or otherwise transferring the fluid or material.
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-211. An accused acts purposely
when it is his "conscious object to engage in conduct of
that nature or to cause that result." Ark. Code Ann.
§ 5-2-202(a)(1). Here, Deputy Mirus testified that
Wright was infected with AIDS, was angry and violent,
threatened to infect him with AIDS, repeatedly spit at him,
and at one point successfully spit on him, while he had an
open wound on his nose. While Mirus's partner testified
that he did not hear Wright make any threats, the jury was
entitled to resolve all questions of conflicting testimony.
We hold ...