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Stockstill v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

January 25, 2017

LAWANA STOCKSTILL APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH DIVSION [NO. 60CR-13-1193] HONORABLE BARRY SIMS, JUDGE AFFIRMED

          Willard Proctor, Jr., P.A., by: Willard Proctor, Jr., for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

         A Pulaski County jury convicted Lawana Stockstill of first-degree terroristic threatening and aggravated assault of her former roommate Steven Jackson.[1] She appeals her convictions and argues that the circuit court (1) abused its discretion by admitting Officer David Moore's opinion testimony; (2) abused its discretion by denying her motion for a mistrial; and (3) erred in denying her directed-verdict motion on the charge of first-degree terroristic threatening. We affirm.

         At trial, Jackson testified that she and Stockstill had lived together in his house as platonic roommates and that Stockstill had agreed to pay the utility bills in lieu of rent. He explained that on March 8, 2013, he discovered that Stockstill had failed to pay the gas bill; so, while she was away from the house, he threw her clothes onto the hallway floor and removed the hinges from her bedroom door. He testified that when Stockstill returned home later that night, she discovered the clothes and the door, became angry, grabbed a kitchen knife, and chased him around the house. He explained that they began to wrestle and she stabbed him in the head, arm, and leg.

         During Jackson's testimony, when the prosecutor asked him, "What happened when [Stockstill came] home that night?" Jackson stated,

When she [came] home that night and [saw] her clothes in the floor and walked into her bedroom she did something and came out, ran toward the kitchen. Well, when she ran toward the kitchen, I knew what she was doing because she has a track record of stabbing.

         Stockstill's attorney immediately objected but did not state a specific ground. The court sustained the objection. The prosecutor then advised Jackson, "Let's just talk about what happened that night."

         Officer David Moore then testified that he responded to a call and went to Jackson's residence on March 8, 2013, and found the house in disarray with multiple broken items and a large amount of blood on the floor. He stated that he advised Stockstill of her Miranda rights and that Stockstill provided him with written and oral statements.

         During his testimony, the State asked Officer Moore whether he was "able to determine the aggressor of the situation." Stockstill's attorney objected and argued that Officer Moore's answer would offer an inappropriate opinion. The court overruled his objection. Officer Moore then testified, "From my experience as a police officer, we determined that Stockstill was the aggressor."

          Following Officer Moore's testimony, the State offered the testimony of Officer Kari Reed. The State then rested its case. At that time, Stockstill moved for a mistrial based on Jackson's comment that Stockstill had a "track record of stabbing." The court denied the motion. Stockstill's attorney then moved for a directed verdict on the charge of first-degree terroristic threatening.[2] She argued that the State failed to present evidence that she threatened to cause serious physical injury or death to Jackson. The court denied the motion.

         Stockstill then testified on her own behalf. She denied threatening to kill or physically injure Jackson and denied purposely cutting or causing injury to Jackson. She stated that she retrieved the knife after Jackson became aggressive with her and that she cut him in self-defense.

         Following her testimony, Stockstill renewed her motions for a mistrial and for a directed verdict on the first-degree terroristic-threatening charge. The court denied them. The jury then found Stockstill guilty of aggravated assault and ...


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