FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 60CR-2014-1089]
HONORABLE ERNEST SANDERS, SPECIAL CIRCUIT JUDGE
L. Davis, Jr. Law Firm, PLLC, by: Ronald L. Davis, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
K. WOOD, Associate Justice
Pulaski County jury convicted the appellant, Willie Noble, of
first-degree murder and six counts of terroristic acts. It
also found him guilty of using a firearm during the
commission of a felony on each count. He was sentenced to 240
months for first-degree murder with an additional 120
months' enhancement for use of a firearm to be served
consecutively. In addition, he was fined $1, 000 for each of
the six felony terroristic acts and was sentenced to 36
months for each of the firearm enhancements to be served
concurrently. On appeal, Noble argues that the circuit court
erred in not granting his motions for directed verdict on all
charges. We affirm Noble's convictions.
February 2014, several teenagers went to Noble's home to
play a prank on Noble's son by throwing toilet paper,
leaves, and mayonnaise on his son's car. Noble was
alerted by his dog barking, but by the time he looked outside
and saw the toilet paper and leaves on the car, the teenagers
had left. However, they returned later that night with eggs
to throw at Noble's house and at a neighbor's house.
This time, as the teenagers were leaving in their car, Noble
came outside with a gun and began shooting in the direction
of the teenagers' car. Noble fired multiple shots at the
car, shattering the driver's-side window, cracking the
windshield, and leaving several bullet holes in the vehicle.
Adrian Broadway, who was seated in the front passenger seat,
was shot in the head and killed by one of Noble's shots.
jury convicted Noble of first-degree murder and six
terroristic acts. It also found him guilty of using a firearm
during the commission of a felony with regard to each count.
On appeal, Noble contends the circuit court erred by denying
his motions for directed verdict because the evidence did not
demonstrate that his purpose in firing his weapon was to
cause property damage and because Broadway's death was
not caused "in furtherance of" the terroristic acts
as required by the felony-murder statute, Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-10-102(a)(1) (Repl. 2013).
treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Kinsey v. State, 2016
Ark. 393, 503 S.W.3d 772. The test for determining the
sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is
supported by substantial evidence. Id. Substantial
evidence is evidence that is of sufficient force and
character that it will, with reasonable certainty, compel a
conclusion one way or the other, without resorting to
speculation or conjecture. Id. In reviewing a
sufficiency challenge, we view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the State, considering only evidence that
supports the verdict. Id.
contends the circuit court should have granted his
directed-verdict motions in regard to the terroristic acts.
He argues there was insufficient evidence that he shot the
vehicle occupied by the victim with the intent to cause
property damage. He asserts that the only testimony regarding
his intent was the statement he gave to the police in which
he claimed that he shot with the purpose of scaring away the
people in the car. However, the jury was not required to
accept his statement as true and was free to believe the
testimony of other witnesses. Indeed, a person's state of
mind at the time of a crime is seldom apparent and ordinarily
cannot be proven by direct evidence. Rollins v.
State, 2009 Ark. 484, 347 S.W.3d 20. For this reason,
members of the jury are allowed to draw upon their common
knowledge and experience to infer it from the circumstances.
Id. Because of the difficulty in ascertaining a
person's intent, a presumption exists that a person
intends the natural and probable consequences of his or her
acts. Davis v. State, 2009 Ark. 478, 348 S.W.3d 553.
the trial testimony, a jury could have concluded that
Noble's actions showed that he shot the vehicle with the
purpose of causing property damage. One of the teenagers
testified at trial that Noble pointed the gun and shot at the
car four or five times. He did not see Noble aim the gun
toward the ground. Another teenager similarly stated that she
saw Noble aim and shoot the gun at the car. In addition,
police officers testified to the damage to the car as the
result of the shooting, including a shattered
driver's-side window, cracked windshield, and bullet
holes in the driver's-side door and in the rear quarter
panel. We hold that this evidence was sufficient to support
the jury's inference that Noble shot the vehicle with the
intent to cause property damage.
Noble argues that under the circumstances of this case, he
did not shoot and kill Broadway in furtherance of the
commission of the terroristic acts. The felony murder statute
A person commits murder in the first degree if, acting alone
or with one or more other persons, the person commits or
attempts to commit a felony and, in the course of and in
furtherance of the felony or in immediate flight from the
felony, the person or an accomplice causes the death of any
person under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference
to the value of human life.
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-10-102(a)(1).
argues that in order for the State to prove that he caused
Broadway's death "in the course of and in
furtherance of" committing a terroristic act, it must
demonstrate that the murder was done to facilitate the
terroristic act. Noble cites Parker v. State, 292
Ark. 421, 731 S.W.2d 756 (1987), and Craig v. State,
70 Ark.App. 71, 14 S.W.3d 893 (2000), in support of this
argument. He contends that Parker stands for the
proposition that the language "in the course of and in
furtherance of" requires that the death facilitated the
felony. This is simply a misinterpretation of
Parker. In Parker, the defendant was
convicted of the felony murder of James Warren and Sandra
Warren. 292 Ark. 421, 731 S.W.2d 756. Parker drove to the
home of James Warren, his ex-wife's father, and as Warren
and his daughter were getting into their vehicle, Parker
began shooting at them. Id. He ultimately chased
Warren into his home where he killed him and his wife, Sandra
Warren. Id. The court reversed because ...