FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-13-197-2]
HONORABLE ROBERT H. WYATT, JR., JUDGE
Robinson & Zakrzewski, P.A., by: Luke Zakrzewski, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Lamar Brown was convicted by a Jefferson County jury of
kidnapping (two counts), second-degree battery, and
second-degree escape. He was sentenced to twenty years'
imprisonment for each kidnapping conviction, six years'
imprisonment for the battery conviction, and five years'
imprisonment for the escape conviction. Brown appeals the sentencing order,
arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion in
excluding lay-witness testimony concerning his history of
mental disease, which he claims is relevant to the issue of
his culpable mental state. We agree and reverse and remand.
April 3, 2013, the State filed an information alleging that
on February 21, 2013, Brown committed second-degree escape,
two counts of first-degree false imprisonment, two counts of
first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree battery,
two counts of aggravated assault, and threatening a fire or
bombing. After several amendments, the third amended
information charged Brown with second-degree escape, two
counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree
battery, and two counts of kidnapping.
April 5, 2013, the State moved that Brown be committed to
determine whether he lacked capacity, due to mental disease
or defect, at the time of the alleged occurrence to conform
his conduct to the requirements of the law or to appreciate
the criminality of his conduct and to determine whether he
lacked the capacity to understand the proceedings against him
or to assist effectively in his own defense. The circuit
court granted the State's motion, and a forensic
evaluation was conducted by Dr. William A. Cochran of
Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., on May 16,
Cochran reported that Brown suffered from psychotic disorder
and antisocial-personality disorder; had been off his
medication; and had been very disruptive during the
evaluation and often "rambled incoherently." Dr.
Cochran opined that Brown lacked the capacity to understand
the proceedings against him and the capacity to effectively
assist in his own defense. Due to Brown's condition at
the evaluation, Dr. Cochran was unable to determine whether,
at the time of the offenses, Brown had the capacity to
appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to form the
culpable mental state required to be convicted of the
offenses for which he had been charged.
circuit court, on June 19, 2013, entered an order that
suspended the criminal proceedings against Brown and that
committed him to the Arkansas State Hospital until his
competency to stand trial could be restored. While committed,
Brown received treatment for his mental disease, and in
August 2013, he was able to participate in an evaluation by
Ben Hendrickson, a psychology intern at the Arkansas State
Hospital. Hendrickson concluded that,
at the time of his evaluation, Brown suffered from mental
disease, schizophrenia, yet he had the capacity to understand
the criminal proceedings against him and assist in his
defense. Hendrickson also opined that Brown, at the time of
the offenses, suffered from mental disease, yet he had the
capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and to
form the requisite culpable mental state to be convicted of
the offenses for which he had been charged.
March 5, 2014, Brown filed a motion for completion of the
forensic evaluation. The circuit court granted the motion,
and Dr. Cochran reevaluated Brown on May 29, 2014. Dr.
Cochran reached the same conclusions as Hendrickson.
fourth and final forensic evaluation was conducted at the
Arkansas State Hospital on June 4, 2015, by Dr. Peacock and
Kaley Raskin, a postdoctoral fellow in forensic psychology.
They concluded that, at the time of their evaluation, Brown
suffered from mental disease-schizophrenia, multiple
episodes, currently in partial remission-and he had the
capacity to understand the criminal proceedings against him
and assist in his defense. Dr. Peacock and Raskin also opined
that Brown, at the time of the offenses, suffered from mental
disease but that he had the capacity to appreciate the
criminality of his conduct and to form the requisite culpable
mental state to be convicted of the offenses for which he had
December 2015 competency hearing, Dr. Peacock reiterated the
opinions in his June 2015 report and testified that Brown was
competent to stand trial. The circuit court found Brown
competent to stand trial.
trial, the State presented multiple witnesses who testified
that on February 21, 2013, Brown entered Comprehensive Care,
a walk-in medical clinic, and was ushered into an examination
room, where a nurse, Phyllis Martin, and a nurse
practitioner, Karen McPherson, planned to treat him for a
groin abscess. When in the exam room, Brown brandished a gun
and explosives, pointed the gun at the women, and ordered
McPherson to call the front desk and ask that they not be
bothered. For approximately forty-five minutes, the women
were trapped in the exam room with Brown, during which time
he made multiple threats to kill the women, he beat Martin,
and he cut off McPherson's hair. Eventually, the police
entered the room and took Brown into custody. The officers
determined that the gun was a toy ...