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N.L. v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

April 12, 2017

N.L. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17JV-15-295] HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE

          Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Amanda Jegley, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge

         The Crawford County Circuit Court adjudicated appellant N.L. delinquent and committed him to the Department of Youth Services for an indeterminate period of time. N.L. filed a timely notice of appeal and now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his delinquency adjudication. We affirm.

         The State filed a delinquency petition alleging that N.L. committed the offenses of aggravated assault on a family or household member and second-degree domestic battery.[1]These two charges stemmed from allegations that N.L. and his stepfather, Harrell Kimes, had been involved in an altercation. During that altercation, N.L., who was armed with a knife, hit Kimes so hard that Kimes required reconstructive surgery to repair his eye socket. At trial, the State presented evidence and testimony from Kimes and N.L.'s mother, Christine Kimes, describing the facts surrounding the fight.

At the conclusion of the State's case, N.L. moved for directed verdict:
Your Honor, at this time we move to dismiss on the grounds that the State has not shown each and every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and we'd renew all objections at this time.

         N.L. proceeded with his case-in-chief. After the last defense witness had testified, the court asked if there were any further witnesses, and counsel replied that he would "just ask for an opportunity to be heard in closing." Counsel went on to argue that the case was

kind of [a] heat of passion situation. [N.L.] was justified in pulling the knife out. . . . Harrell was the first aggressor as far as throwing a punch. He didn't grab the knife when Harrell was coming at him; he used his fists like Harrell was using. I would argue that he's justified in doing that.

         The State then presented its closing arguments; the court asked for any response; and defense counsel replied, "Your Honor, we'd just renew all objections."

         On appeal, N.L.'s sole argument is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence on the offenses of aggravated assault on a family or household member and second-degree domestic battery. A person commits the offense of aggravated assault on a family member if, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, the person purposely engages in conduct that creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to a family or household member. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-26-306(a)(1) (Repl. 2013). A person commits second-degree domestic battery if, with the purpose of causing physical injury to a family or household member, the person causes serious physical injury to a family or household member. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-26-304(a)(1).

         Under the Juvenile Code, the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure apply to delinquency proceedings. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-325(f) (Repl. 2015); see also T.C. v. State, 2010 Ark. 240, 364 S.W.3d 53. Rule 33.1 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure governs motions to dismiss in bench trials and provides in relevant part as follows:

(b) In a nonjury trial, if a motion for dismissal is to be made, it shall be made at the close of all of the evidence. The motion for dismissal shall state the specific grounds therefor. If the defendant moved for dismissal at the conclusion of the prosecution's evidence, ...

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