FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-15-469] HONORABLE HERBERT T. WRIGHT, JUDGE
M. "Robby" Golden, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Pulaski County jury convicted Tyrun Lamont Jones of
second-degree murder.The jury sentenced
him to 300 months' imprisonment with a firearm
enhancement of 180 months. On appeal, he argues that his
conviction should be overturned because the circuit court
abused its discretion in excluding a witness pursuant to
Arkansas Rule of Evidence 615. He also argues that the case
should be remanded for resentencing because the prosecutor
made improper statements during closing remarks at the
sentencing stage of trial. We affirm.
February 13, 2015, the State charged Jones with first-degree
murder of Alex Booker. The case proceeded to trial on May 3,
2016. On the first day of trial, Brianna Jordan testified
that she lived in an apartment with Anita Henderson and that
she had a sexual relationship with both Jones and Booker. She
further testified that on December 24, 2014, she was at her
apartment with Jones and Henderson and that Jones texted
Booker on her phone to come to the apartment. She explained
that Booker later came to the apartment, that Booker and
Jones had a disagreement, and that Jones shot Booker with a
gun. Jordan could not recall how many times Jones fired the
gun or where Booker had been shot. She stated that
immediately after Jones fired the gun, she, Booker, and
Henderson fled the apartment.
second day of trial, Henderson testified that she saw Jones
shoot Booker four times in his back with a gun in her
apartment. She also testified that she and Booker fled the
apartment after the shooting. On cross-examination, defense
counsel asked Henderson whether, following Booker's
death, she had spoken with Jones in prison while she was
visiting her brother. Henderson denied it. Defense counsel
then asked Henderson whether she had told Jones that Jordan
killed Booker, and Henderson further denied speaking to
Henderson's testimony, defense counsel informed the court
that it wanted to call Georgette Giles, who was not on the
witness list and who had been present in the courtroom that
day, to impeach Henderson's testimony. Defense counsel
explained that Giles had discussed with him certain
information that could be used for impeachment purposes
"after the close of business yesterday" and that he
did not notify the State about Giles's testimony because
he believed Henderson would tell the truth on the stand.
Defense counsel proffered Giles's testimony that about
two months prior to the trial, while she was visiting Jones
in prison, she heard Henderson tell Jones, "[L]et's
put it all on [Jordan.]" Giles stated that she did not
attend the first day of trial but that she was in the
courtroom for the entirety of Henderson's testimony on
the second day.
State objected to Giles's testimony, asserting that it
violated Arkansas Rule of Evidence 615 because the rule had
been invoked and Giles had been in the courtroom during
Henderson's testimony. The court found that
the problem the Court sees in this case in addition to the
inconsistencies in her testimony, is the fact that she
reported this last night. That's before today. Defense
counsel let this witness be called this morning and testify
in this witness's presence to something he knew she was
[going to] refute . . . Defense counsel knew . . . that this
witness, this witness right here, that she was going to
refute the testimony of Anita Henderson or might refute it
depending on what Miss Henderson said. Yet you allowed the
State to call that witness without bringing to the attention
of the Court that a found contrary witness was in the Court
Room . . . the Court's striking the witness from the
later testified on his own behalf. He stated that Jordan shot
Booker in Henderson and Jordan's apartment and that
Henderson was not present during the shooting. He explained
that after he saw Jordan shoot Booker, he immediately fled
the apartment. He admitted that he initially told police that
a man named Quincy shot Booker.
jury convicted Jones of second-degree murder and found that
he had used a firearm in committing the felony. The case then
proceeded to the sentencing phase, and the prosecutor stated
the following during closing remarks:
And you get to hear the emotional impact that
[Henderson]'s out in the hall suicidal. And [Henderson]
is a nice person. She's a good person. If she had ever
been in trouble before, you would have heard it. She has.
She's got emotional problems for seeing the violence that
she has, that she had seen. And who started that? This man.
So, [Henderson] had the same, the same opportunities as he
did, yet ...