FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-14-27]
HONORABLE BERLIN C. JONES, JUDGE
Lancaster Law Firm, PLLC, by: Clinton W. Lancaster, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge
Raglon was found guilty by a jury in the Circuit Court of
Jefferson County of second-degree murder and was sentenced as
a habitual offender to 65 years' imprisonment in the
Arkansas Department of Correction. The victim, Demetric
McDaniel, died of a shotgun wound to the head. There was
evidence at trial that on the night of the shooting, Raglon
had been smoking the synthetic cannabinoid K2. He admitted
shooting McDaniel in the head but claimed that the gun
accidentally discharged. Dr. Frank Peretti, who was qualified
at trial as an expert in the area of forensic pathology,
testified over Raglon's objection about how people behave
after using K2. Raglon raises one point on appeal, contending
that the circuit court abused its discretion when it
permitted the expert to testify beyond the limits of his
qualifications and that the testimony was unduly prejudicial.
the admissibility of expert testimony depends on whether the
testimony will aid the fact-finder in comprehending the
evidence presented or resolving a fact in dispute. Wood
v. State, 75 Ark.App. 22, 26, 53 S.W.3d 56, 59 (2001).
Abuse of discretion is a high threshold that does not simply
require error in the circuit court's decision; it
requires that the circuit court acted improvidently,
thoughtlessly, or without due consideration.
Hajek-McClure v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 690,
at 9, 450 S.W.3d 259, 265. We will not reverse a ruling on
the admission of evidence absent a showing of prejudice.
scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will
assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert
by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may
testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise."
Ark. R. Evid. 702 (2016). When expert scientific testimony is
the trial judge must determine at the outset, pursuant to
Rule 104(a), whether the expert is proposing to testify to
(1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of
fact to understand or determine a fact in issue. This entails
a preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or
methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid
and of whether the reasoning or methodology properly can be
applied to the facts in issue.
Wood, 75 Ark.App. at 27, 53 S.W.3d at 59-60 (citing
Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. of Ark. v. Foote, 341 Ark.
105, 116, 14 S.W.3d 512, 519 (2000) (quoting Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93
(1993) (footnotes omitted)). See Ark. R. Evid.
even if helpful to a jury, may be properly excluded if it is
offered by a person not qualified to render the opinion.
Brunson v. State, 349 Ark. 300, 310, 79 S.W.3d 304,
310 (2002). Unless the person is clearly lacking in training
and experience, the decided tendency is to permit the
fact-finder to hear the testimony of someone having superior
knowledge in a given field. Graftenreed v. Seabaugh,
100 Ark.App. 364, 372, 268 S.W.3d 905, 914 (2007). The fact
that a medical expert is not a specialist in that particular
field does not necessarily exclude him or her from offering
testimony. Dundee v. Horton, 2015 Ark.App. 690, at
6-7, 477 S.W.3d 558, 562. Nor is absolute expertise
concerning a particular subject required to qualify a witness
as an expert. Id. Rule of Evidence 702 expressly
recognizes that an expert's testimony may be based on
experience in addition to knowledge and training.
the State presented testimony that after midnight on November
28, 2013, Kevin Kirk of the Pine Bluff Police Department went
with officers to apartments at 26th and Beech Streets on a
welfare check concerning a young child. They entered an open
door to an apartment where they heard the noise of a
television. They saw a man's body in a coagulated pool of
blood; a shotgun with a sawed-off handle was beside him, and
there was "brain matter on a mattress that he was
semi-on." Coroner Chad Kelly pronounced the victim
dead-the apparent cause of death being a gunshot wound to the
left side of the head.
McClatchie testified that in November 2013 he was living in
the Beech Street apartments while on the run from drug court
and was involved with K2. On the night of the shooting, he
"fronted" McDaniel and Raglon some K2 and allowed
them to sell it out of the apartment. Early the next day,
McClatchie returned from shopping and dining in Little Rock.
McDaniel gave money to McClatchie, who gave McDaniel more K2.
McClatchie gave Raglon another gram of K2 because he had
smoked his or given it away, had spent his money on PCP, and
had kept saying that a gram was missing. The three of them
sat on an air mattress and began playing an Xbox game;
McClatchie was in the middle, with McDaniel a foot and a half
to his right and Raglon the same distance to the left.
further testified that Raglon and McDaniel had brought guns
to the apartment for protection from robbery, something that
"goes along with the business of selling
drugs." McDaniel's long-barreled shotgun was
on the floor to his right; Raglon's green-and-black
sawed-off shotgun was on the floor in front of him. Just
before the shooting, McClatchie and McDaniel had been playing
a game, and Raglon had been sitting on the floor-leaning on
the mattress. According to McClatchie,
There were no arguments, nothing . . . and then a sudden
flash and a bang, boom, across my face. I could feel, like,
the wind off it. . . . Raglon shot my best friend. I saw the
gun. He pointed it at me after he shot him. He did not say
anything at first. I went in my pocket. I thought he was
wanting to rob me. He meant business. I went into my pocket
like, "what you ...