Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Raglon v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 3, 2017



          The Lancaster Law Firm, PLLC, by: Clinton W. Lancaster, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RITA W. GRUBER, Chief Judge

         Rashune 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. We affirm.

         Generally, 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. Id.

         "If 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 proffered,

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. 104(a).

         Testimony, 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. Id.

         Here, 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.

         Brandon 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.

         McClatchie 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."[1] 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.