GEORGE WESLEY BATES, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE POINSETT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 56CR-16-92]
HONORABLE JOHN N. FOGLEMAN, JUDGE
Dunlap, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Priest, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge.
George Bates appeals his conviction by the Circuit Court of
Poinsett County of domestic battering in the third degree. We
bench trial, the victim, Karen Goans, testified that she had
lived with Bates for eleven years prior to an incident in
January 2016 that resulted in her hospitalization. However,
she denied that the hospitalization was due to injuries
inflicted by Bates, stating instead that she had "messed
up on [her] pills" and awakened in the hospital. She
denied having suffered any head trauma but admitted that she
had "a hole in [her] lung." She testified that, for
the past three months, she had lived with her mother in
Cherry Valley but now lives on her own in Wynne.
adult daughter, Jamie Lewis, testified that Bates was her
mother's "ex-boyfriend or current boyfriend."
Jamie testified that, in January 2016, her mother was in the
hospital in a coma for four days. Jamie stated that she and
other family members walked in to her mother's hospital
room as her mother woke up from the coma. She testified that
when Karen's mother went to Karen's bedside, Karen
began to cry. At that point, the testimony drew a hearsay
objection, to which the State argued that the testimony it
was about to elicit qualified as an excited utterance or
present-sense-impression exception to the hearsay rule.
court said it needed to hear more to decide the issue and
allowed the State to continue with its line of questioning.
Jamie testified that she and four other people were there as
her mother began regaining her consciousness and started to
cry. They all went to her bedside to hug her, and Karen said
to her mother "He did this to me, he did this to
me." Jamie then testified, "[A]nd when we said,
'Who?' She said, 'George Bates. George did this
to me. He beat me. He put me here, momma, he did
this.'" She stated that they then went to the
nurse's desk and asked that Bates not be allowed to see
Karen. Bates's attorney again objected that the statement
was inadmissible hearsay. He argued that it didn't
qualify as an exception to the hearsay rule because it was
made days after the alleged beating. After a brief exchange
regarding the law related to the excited-utterance exception,
the court permitted Bates's attorney to voir dire the
witness. During voir dire and follow-up questioning, Jamie
testified inconsistently about how long her mother had been
awake before she spoke, what exactly she said, and whether it
was in response to questioning. Ultimately, the court
admitted Jamie's initial testimony ("He did this to
me, he did this to me." "Who?" "George
did this to me.") as an excited utterance but excluded
the remainder of Jamie's testimony regarding her
mother's description of how Bates had caused her
Joey Martin of the Poinsett County Sheriffs Department
testified that he had responded to a call at St.
Bernard's Hospital and investigated Karen's injuries.
He was unclear of the date she was admitted but said he
arrived to investigate on January 5, 2016. He spoke to Jamie
Lewis as part of his investigation, although the court ruled
that any of Jamie's statements to the detective were
inadmissible hearsay and could not be introduced to establish
the truth of the matter asserted. The court allowed Detective
Martin to testify to Jamie's statement but ruled that the
testimony would be considered only to explain the
detective's steps in investigating.
Martin offered a recording of Karen's statement given at
the hospital regarding the cause of her injuries. Following a
hearsay objection, the State argued that it should be
admitted for the limited purpose of impeaching Karen's
testimony, which the court allowed. In the recording, Karen
told Detective Martin that Bates had pushed her off the
porch, causing her to hit her head. Detective Martin
testified that when he met Karen in the hospital, she was in
a significant amount of pain, had trouble breathing, and was
hooked up to an IV.
made a motion for directed verdict, arguing that the evidence
was insufficient to support a conviction and that the court
erred in admitting the part of Karen's statement in which
she identified Bates by name. The State responded, in part,
by reciting Karen's statements that Bates had pushed her
off the porch and kicked her. The court noted that it had
excluded that testimony for purposes other than impeachment.
However, the court denied the motion for directed verdict,
stating that it had properly admitted the initial
excited-utterance exchange, including the identification of
Bates, and that the evidence was sufficient to go forward.
The defense then rested and renewed its motion. This time the
defense also argued that the State had failed to establish
that Poinsett County had jurisdiction over the case. The
court again denied the motion. When the jurisdiction issue
was raised again in closing arguments, the court reviewed the
record and the case law, and ruled that it had jurisdiction
to hear the case because the defense had not presented any
affirmative evidence that the crime had been committed
court found Bates guilty of domestic battering in the third
degree and sentenced him to six months
in the county jail followed by six months' suspended
imposition of sentence (SIS). During the SIS, Bates was
ordered to have no contact with Karen and to attend
anger-management classes. This timely appeal followed.
first point on appeal is a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence in a criminal bench trial, this court determines
whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence,
direct or circumstantial. Stevenson v. State, 2013
Ark. 100, 426 S.W.3d 416. Substantial evidence is evidence
forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other
beyond suspicion or conjecture. Id., 426 S.W.3d 416.
This court views the evidence in the light most favorable to
the verdict, and only evidence supporting the verdict will be
considered. Id., 426 S.W.3d 416.
person commits domestic battering in the third degree if,
with the purpose of causing physical injury to a family or
household member, the person causes physical injury to a
family or household member. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-26-305(a)(1) (Supp. 2015). Domestic battering in the third
degree is a Class A misdemeanor. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-26-305(b)(1). Physical injury is defined as impairment of
the victim's physical condition, infliction of
substantial pain, ...