KEVIN SPENCER OWENS, SR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66FCR-15-459, 66FCR-15-1003, AND 66FCR-15-1005]
HONORABLE STEPHEN TABOR, JUDGE.
Danielson Law Firm, PLLC, by: Elizabeth "Betsy"
Danielson, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
10, 2016, Kevin Spencer Owens, Sr., was convicted by a jury
of three counts of delivery of methamphetamine and sentenced
to twenty-three years' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues
that the trial court erred by (1) granting the State's
motions in limine precluding him from questioning the
criminal informant about his prior convictions and sentences;
(2) prohibiting him from eliciting testimony from four
witnesses about his family and work history; and (3) allowing
the State's rebuttal witness to testify. We find no error
November 2014, the Fort Smith police set up a controlled buy
with Owens through a paid criminal informant. In exchange for
$100, the criminal informant, who had a long criminal
history, purchased an eighth of an ounce of methamphetamine
from Owens for $250. The police provided the money for the
purchase to the informant, and he wore a wire during the
criminal informant set up another controlled buy in January
2015. This time, the informant introduced Owens to an
undercover police officer, David Stewart, who made the
purchase. Stewart, while wearing a wire, purchased about half
an ounce of meth for $750. For facilitating the delivery,
Stewart let Owens keep 1/16 of an ounce of the meth.
set up a third controlled buy directly with Owens in February
2015 for another half ounce. Owens received 1/16 of an ounce
of meth as payment for the delivery on that occasion, as
was charged with three counts of delivery of methamphetamine.
At trial, Owens argued the affirmative defense of entrapment,
contending the police and the informant lured or baited Owens
to commit the crime by preying on his addiction when they
tempted him with meth in exchange for delivering the drugs.
occurs when a law-enforcement officer or any person acting in
cooperation with a law-enforcement officer induces the
commission of an offense by using persuasion or other means
likely to cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the
offense. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-209 (Repl. 2013). Conduct
merely affording a defendant an opportunity to commit an
offense does not constitute entrapment. Id. When
proving the affirmative defense of entrapment, a defendant is
allowed reasonable latitude in presenting whatever facts and
circumstances he claims constitute an entrapment, subject to
ordinary rules of admissibility. E.g., Young v.
State, 308 Ark. 647, 651, 826 S.W.2d 814, 816 (1992).
Evidence having any tendency to make the existence of
entrapment more probable is admissible. See, e.g.,
id.; Ark. R. Evid. 401.
Standard of Review
courts are afforded wide discretion in evidentiary rulings.
McCoy v. State, 354 Ark. 322, 325, 123 S.W.3d 901,
903 (2003). Specifically, in issues relating to the admission
of evidence under Arkansas Rule of Evidence 401, we have held
that a trial court's ruling is entitled to great weight
and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion.
Id. Abuse of discretion is a high threshold that
does not simply require error in the trial court's
decision, but requires that the trial ...