FROM THE POLK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 57CR-16-11] HONORABLE
JERRY RYAN, JUDGE
Ethridge, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice.
Daniel Stover appeals his convictions in the Pope County
Circuit Court for sexually grooming a child, two counts of
sexual assault in the first degree, sexual assault in the
second degree, and rape. Stover was sentenced as an habitual
offender and received life sentences for each of his
first-degree sexual assault convictions, a sentence of life
without parole for his rape conviction, and a total of
twenty-six years' imprisonment for his remaining
convictions, with all sentences to be served consecutively.
On appeal, Stover argues that the circuit court violated his
due-process rights by allowing an ex post facto application
of the habitual-offender ranges with regard to his life
sentences for rape and for the two counts of first-degree
sexual assault. We affirm.
January 19, 2016, Stover was charged with sexually grooming a
child thirteen years of age or younger on or before January
1, 2015, in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-27-307 (Repl. 2013); second-degree sexual assault of a
minor on or before January 1, 2015, in violation of Arkansas
Code Annotated section 5-14-125; two counts of first-degree
sexual assault of a minor on or between January 2, 2015, and
June 8, 2015, in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-14-124; and rape of a minor under fourteen years of age on
or before January 1, 2015, in violation of Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-14-103. In addition, the State sought
enhanced penalties on the first-degree sexual assault charges
under Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-4-501(c)(1) (Supp.
2015) and on the rape charge under section 5-4-501(c)(3),
based on Stover's previous conviction for first-degree
charges against Stover were based on the allegations of his
minor stepson, H.C., that Stover had shown H.C. pornography
and had engaged in sexual contact and deviate sexual activity
with H.C. when he was between eight and fifteen years of age.
A detailed recitation of the facts and evidence supporting
the charges is unnecessary because Stover does not challenge
the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal.
jury trial was held on April 14, 2016. Prior to trial, Stover
objected to the enhanced sentencing ranges on the
first-degree sexual-assault and rape charges. He argued that
the alleged sexual misconduct giving rise to the charges in
this case occurred prior to his September 16, 2015 conviction
for first-degree sexual assault, an offense to which he had
pled guilty on June 8, 2015, and which involved his
ex-wife's niece. Stover asserted that it would violate
his due-process rights to subject him to an increased range
of punishment for conduct that occurred before the September
2015 conviction. The circuit court took the motion under
advisement at that time.
renewed his objection during his directed-verdict motions,
which were denied by the circuit court. The jury convicted
Stover of all of the charges against him, and prior to the
sentencing hearing, Stover's counsel again raised the
issue of the enhanced sentences, stating:
Your Honor, now that Mr. Stover has been convicted, I would
renew the motion to object to the extended term of
imprisonment based on prior convictions. I think in this case
Mr. Stover- everyone agrees that the incidents that took
place in this case took place before June 8, 2015, when he
entered a plea to sexual assault in the first degree. I think
that it would violate due process that he be subject to an
enhanced term of imprisonment, specifically on the rape
allegation and the sexual assault first degree allegations
based on incidents that took place before he was convicted of
. . . . So, I just don't think that under the facts in
this case that it would meet the due process requirements of
notice No. 1 and 2, the fundamentals of fairness to Mr.
Stover to be subjected to an extended term of imprisonment
for incidents that took place before a prior conviction.
circuit court denied Stover's objection, noting that the
habitual-offender statute makes no such distinction based on
a timeline of the conduct underlying the offenses. Stover
then clarified that his objection was based on the
due-process clauses of both the Arkansas and the United
States Constitutions, and "specifically notice and
fairness as to the timing of these incidents." The
circuit court ruled that there was no violation of
Stover's procedural or substantive due-process rights
under the circumstances in this case.
was sentenced by the jury to six years in the Arkansas
Department of Correction for sexually grooming a child,
twenty years for second-degree sexual assault, an enhanced
sentence of two terms of life for the two counts of
first-degree sexual assault, and an enhanced sentence of life
without parole for the rape charge. Based on the jury's
recommendation, the circuit court ordered the sentences to be
served consecutively. The sentencing order was entered on
April 15, 2016, and Stover filed a timely notice of appeal to
sole point on appeal, Stover argues that the circuit court
erred by allowing the State to request enhanced punishment
based on conduct that occurred prior to the conviction that
was used for enhancement purposes. Specifically, he contends
that his due-process rights were violated by allowing an
"ex post facto application of the enhancement, "
resulting in a punishment that he had no notice of at the
time the offenses in this case were committed. In support of
his argument, Stover cites to article 1, § 10 of the
United States Constitution and article 2, § 17 of ...