JESSIE E. HILL, PETITIONER
STATE OF ARKANSAS, RESPONDENT
SECOND PETITION TO REINVEST JURISDICTION IN THE TRIAL COURT
TO CONSIDER A PETITION FOR WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS; MOTION
FOR WRIT OF AUDITA QUERELA [GRANT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NO.
Jessie E. Hill is incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of
Correction pursuant to a judgment entered on September 18,
1995, in Grant County, which reflects a conviction for
capital murder for which he was sentenced to life without
parole. This court affirmed the judgment. Hill v.
State, 325 Ark. 419, 931 S.W.2d 64 (1996). Hill was
subsequently convicted of first-degree murder pursuant to a
judgment of conviction entered in Ouachita County and was
sentenced as a habitual offender to 720 months'
imprisonment to be served consecutively to the life sentence.
No appeal was taken from the Ouachita County judgment, as
Hill's pro se motion to file a belated appeal was denied.
Hill v. State, CR-96-710 (Ark. Nov. 4, 1996)
(unpublished per curiam).
subsequently pursued multiple postconviction remedies without
success, including two petitions for a writ of error coram
nobis. Hill v. State, CR-96-270 (Ark. Mar. 13, 2008)
(unpublished per curiam) (denying petition to reinvest
jurisdiction in the Grant County Circuit Court to consider a
petition for a writ of error coram nobis); Hill v.
State, 2013 Ark. 383 (per curiam) (affirming denial of
petition for a writ of error coram nobis by the Ouachita
County Circuit Court).
before this court is Hill's second petition to reinvest
jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a writ of error
coram nobis in the Grant County case. In his latest petition
for the writ, Hill alleges that the prosecutor withheld
exculpatory evidence with respect to the Grant County
conviction for capital murder as well as in the Ouachita
County conviction for first-degree murder.
first note that a petition filed in this court for leave to
proceed in the trial court where the judgment was entered is
necessary after a judgment has been affirmed on appeal
because, in that case, the trial court can entertain a
petition for writ of error coram nobis only after we grant
permission. Roberts v. State, 2013 Ark. 56, at 11,
425 S.W.3d 771, 778. Because there was no appeal from
Hill's conviction in Ouachita County for first-degree
murder, it is not necessary for Hill to obtain permission
from this court to file a petition for a writ of error coram
nobis in the Ouachita County Circuit Court. Thus, Hill's
allegations pertaining to his conviction for first-degree
murder in Ouachita County will not be considered or addressed
by this court.
stated above, this is Hill's second petition for coram
nobis relief with respect to his conviction for capital
murder. In his first petition, Hill alleged that the
prosecutor had withheld evidence and failed to disclose the
identification of certain witnesses. We denied the petition
primarily because Hill had failed to specifically identify
what evidence had been allegedly withheld. Hill,
CR-96-270, slip. op. at 1. In this second petition, Hill
again alleges entitlement to coram nobis relief based on
allegations that the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence
in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83
(1963). In support of his claim, Hill elaborates on the
allegations set forth in his first coram nobis petition and
identifies the evidence that was allegedly withheld by the
prosecutor and investigators.
addressing Hill's allegations in support of his
Brady claim, it is necessary to set forth a summary
of the testimony and evidence adduced at Hill's trial
that supported his conviction for capital murder. In so
doing, this court takes judicial notice of the testimony and
evidence contained in the record that was lodged in this
court in connection with Hill's direct appeal. Davis
v. State, 2013 Ark. 118, at 3 (per curiam).
review of the trial record reflects that Hill's
accomplice, Demarcus Tatum, testified and described the
events surrounding the crime. According to Tatum's
testimony, Hill and Tatum went to the home of Donny Ray Moss
on the evening of January 17, 1995, and asked to borrow a
Nissan automobile owned by Donald Thrower. Thrower refused to
let them borrow his car but agreed to allow his cousin,
Arbrady Moss, to drive Hill and Tatum to the bus station in
Camden. Tatum testified that while on route, Hill demanded
that Moss give him the automobile, and, when Moss refused,
Hill struck Moss in the head with a marble rolling pin that
was found on the floorboard of the Nissan. After the initial
assault, Moss was left in a roadside ditch, and Hill and
Tatum drove away. However, after driving a short distance,
Hill and Tatum returned to retrieve Moss and placed Moss in
the Nissan's trunk. Thereafter, Hill and Tatum stopped to
dispose of Moss's body on Cohen Trial in Grant County.
When Moss was found to be still alive, Hill lifted Moss from
the trunk and beat him with a glass juice bottle. Moss was
left on the side of Cohen Trial, and Hill and Tatum decided
to drive the car to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Nissan broke down
near Adair, Oklahoma, where Hill and Tatum sold it to a local
garage for $150.00. Hill and Tatum used the proceeds from the
sale of the Nissan to buy bus tickets to Kansas City. Upon
arriving in Kansas City, they had no money and no
transportation, and they decided to steal a car. To this end,
they assaulted and stabbed a woman near her car in a parking
garage and took her purse and car keys. When a security guard
in the parking garage came on the scene, Hill and Tatum ran
back to the bus station, where they were apprehended.
testimony of Tatum was corroborated by the testimony of Bob
Adams, the Sheriff of Grant County, who stated that
Moss's body was found on January 19, 1995, two days after
Moss was last seen in the company of Hill and Tatum.
According to Sheriff Adams, the Nissan had been impounded in
Oklahoma and searched. A considerable amount of blood was
found in the trunk, together with a tooth similar to a tooth
missing from Moss's body, a rolling pin that was covered
with hair and with what appeared to be dried blood, and an
ashtray that was also covered in blood. Crime-lab analysis
revealed that blood on the rolling pin matched the
victim's blood type and the ashtray contained Moss's
bloody fingerprint. Witnesses employed at the garage in
Oklahoma identified Hill and Tatum as the two men who sold
the Nissan. The victim's brother testified that he last
saw the victim leaving with Hill and Tatum to drive them to
the Camden bus station. The medical examiner testified that
Moss had died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head,
and further stated that blows to the jaw had knocked out
teeth from Moss's upper and lower jaw.
contends that he is entitled to coram nobis relief because
the prosecutor withheld the following exculpatory evidence:
(1) an August 28, 1995 report from the Arkansas Crime
Laboratory that identified a latent fingerprint on the
rolling pin, which could not be connected to either Hill or
Tatum; (2) hairs collected from the Nissan, which included
two Caucasian hairs, that did not match the victim's
hair; (3) a handwritten investigative note dated January 23,
1995, that included a witness statement that Moss was last
seen alive on January 12, 1995, rather than on January 17,
1995. Finally, Hill contends that the State collected blood,
fluid, and fiber evidence that had not been subjected to
forensic analysis, because investigators were determined to
convict Hill for the crime and refused to develop evidence
implicating other suspects.
of error coram nobis is an extraordinarily rare remedy.
Howard v. State, 2012 Ark. 177, at 4, 403 S.W.3d 38,
42-43. Coram nobis proceedings are attended by a strong
presumption that the judgment of conviction is valid.
Id. The function of the writ is to secure relief
from a judgment rendered while there existed some fact that
would have prevented its rendition if it had been known and
which, through no negligence or fault of the defendant, was
not brought forward before rendition of the judgment.
Id. The petitioner has the burden of demonstrating a
fundamental error of fact extrinsic to the record.
writ is allowed only under compelling circumstances to
achieve justice and to address errors of the most fundamental
nature. Id. We have held that a writ of error coram
nobis is available for addressing certain errors that are
found in one of four categories: (1) insanity at the time of
trial, (2) a coerced guilty plea, (3) material evidence
withheld by the prosecutor, or (4) a third-party confession
to the crime during the time between conviction and appeal.
not required to accept the allegations in a petition for writ
of error coram nobis at face value. Goff v. State,
2012 Ark. 68, at 3, 398 S.W.3d 896, 898 (per curiam). While
allegations of a Brady violation fall within one of
the four categories of fundamental error that this court has
recognized, the fact that a petitioner alleges a
Brady violation alone is not sufficient to provide a
basis for error-coram-nobis relief. Stenhouse v.
State, 2016 Ark. 295, at 3-4, 497 S.W.3d 679, 682 (per
curiam). To establish a Brady violation, three
elements are required: (1) the evidence at issue must be
favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory or
because it is impeaching; (2) that evidence must have been
suppressed by the State, either willfully or inadvertently;
(3) prejudice must have ensued. State v. Larimore,
341 Ark. 397, 404, 17 S.W.3d 87, 91 (2000). Furthermore,
assuming that the alleged withheld evidence meets the
requirements of a Brady violation and is both
material and prejudicial, in order to justify issuance of the
writ, the withheld material evidence must also be such as to
have prevented rendition of the judgment had it been known at
the time ...