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Campbell v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 24, 2017



          James W. Harris, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

         Appellant Charles H. Campbell, Jr., was charged with first-degree murder after he shot and killed his friend, Rodney Lutes, with a handgun. After a jury trial, the jury convicted Campbell of the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. Campbell was sentenced to ten years in prison for the manslaughter conviction, and his sentence was enhanced by fifteen years pursuant to the jury's finding that he had employed a firearm in committing the offense.

         Campbell now appeals, raising two arguments for reversal. First, he argues that the trial court erred in refusing to give a jury instruction on the lesser-included offense of negligent homicide. Next, Campbell contends that the firearm enhancement violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. We affirm.

         Campbell and Lutes, both in their early 50s, had been friends since they were teenagers. According to Campbell they were like brothers. Over the years the two men would drink together and would occasionally get into arguments. Lutes bought a house, and Campbell moved in with him in December 2014. The house had an extra bedroom where Campbell's fifteen-year-old son, C.C., would stay on weekends when Campbell had visitation with him.

         On Saturday, February 28, 2015, C.C. was visiting Campbell and was in the house while Campbell and Lutes watched a basketball game. Both Campbell and Lutes drank beer that afternoon while they watched the game. That evening, C.C. remained at the house while Campbell, Campbell's girlfriend, and Lutes went to a local establishment to shoot pool.

         While shooting pool, Campbell and Lutes continued drinking beer. Campbell drank about fifteen beers that day, and Lutes was drinking beer and doing shots of whiskey. On the way home from shooting pool, Lutes and Campbell got into a heated argument. Lutes was unhappy about having to buy drinks for Campbell's girlfriend. As a result of the argument, Lutes told Campbell that he needed to pack his things and leave the house.

         When the men returned home, Campbell went inside and told C.C. to pack his things because they were leaving. C.C. then called his mother to have her pick him up and take him back to her house. Lutes came inside the house, and C.C. heard Lutes and Campbell arguing loudly. Campbell went to his bedroom, retrieved his .38-caliber handgun, pulled the hammer back, and proceeded back into the hallway. At the end of the hallway, Campbell met Lutes and the gun discharged at close range, striking Lutes in the neck.[1]

         After Lutes was shot, Campbell told C.C. to dial 911 for help. Campbell frantically tried to save Lutes's life by performing CPR and trying to stop the bleeding. The police and the ambulance arrived on the scene, and Lutes died from blood loss shortly thereafter. According to the police, Campbell told them that he did not mean to shoot Lutes, and that he had stuck the gun up and Lutes walked into it. In a subsequent custodial statement, Campbell stated that he was afraid of Lutes that night and only wanted to scare him. He maintained that he had "shot [his] best friend accidentally."

         C.C. testified as a witness for the State. He testified that when his father and Lutes returned home that night his father came into C.C.'s bedroom and was acting scared and worried. Campbell told C.C. that he did not want him around Lutes while Lutes was drinking and to pack his things. C.C. packed his things and called his mother. According to C.C., Campbell then proceeded to his bedroom to get his gun while both men were yelling at each other. C.C. stated that he tried to stop his father, but that his father "was real mad and said he would kill him." C.C. testified that "my dad was walking toward [Lutes's] room when he said he was going to kill him. He was just walking towards [Lutes] or coming after him, I guess." The men then ran into each other in the hallway, and C.C. saw his father shoot Lutes. Immediately after he shot Lutes, Campbell was saying he was sorry and to call an ambulance.

         Campbell testified in his defense, and he stated that on previous occasions Lutes, who was much larger than he is, had physically assaulted him. The first assault took place when Lutes slapped him when they were teenagers. The next assault occurred in Memphis about fifteen years ago when Lutes chased him down and they got into an altercation. The next one occurred about ten years ago when Lutes attacked him and caused what Campbell called "superficial injuries."[2] Within the past year, Campbell recounted another occasion when, after both men were arrested for public intoxication, they got into an altercation after Lutes's wife picked them up from the jail and they were riding home.

         Campbell indicated that Lutes's demeanor changed when he was intoxicated, that he was an "angry drunk, " and that when he was drinking it was not uncommon for Lutes to order him to leave the house. Campbell testified that, on one such occasion, Lutes came after Campbell, grabbed him, said he was going to "whip [his] ass, " and said "get the f*** out of my house." Campbell stated that on that occasion he retreated to his room and called 911, and that after the police arrived he left and went to his father's house. Campbell ...

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