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Edwards v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 1, 2017

ALAN RAY EDWARDS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [26CR-12-539] HONORABLE JOHN HOMER WRIGHT, JUDGE

          John Wesley Hall and Sarah M. Pourhosseini, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice

         Alan Ray Edwards appeals from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. On appeal, Edwards argues that the circuit court erred by denying his petition because his trial counsel was ineffective for (1) failing to elicit testimony from his expert regarding his lack of capacity to form intent or, alternatively, failing to argue that ruling such testimony inadmissible violated due process by depriving appellant of his only defense; (2) failing to pursue a self-defense theory of the case; and (3) failing to present adequate mitigation evidence at sentencing. We affirm.

         Appellant was convicted of murder in the first degree with a firearm enhancement and attempted murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to a total of sixty-five years' imprisonment. His convictions were affirmed by this court on direct appeal. Edwards v. State, 2015 Ark. 377, 472 S.W.3d 479. The relevant facts, as recited in our opinion on direct appeal are as follows:

The shootings occurred at Pop-A-Top Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A number of patrons and employees testified at the trial. To summarize, on August 28, 2012, Edwards offered a $200 tip to Eliza Beth McDaniel, a bartender, which she refused. Edwards nevertheless slipped the money into her unattended purse. The next day, Edwards returned to the bar and asked the bartender if she had received the "surprise." She unsuccessfully tried to return the money to Edwards. On August 31, 2012, he returned to the bar and asked if she would go out with him. Because Edwards was married, she declined. Edwards then demanded the money back and threatened to kill her. She returned $62, which was all the money she had on her, and offered to return the remainder in a few days. Edwards told her that she had better return the rest of the money or he would kill her and everyone in the bar. The bartender reported the incident to the owner and the manager, but rather than reporting it to the police, the owner and the manager decided that Edwards would no longer be allowed in bar.
On September 3, 2012, at 3:00 p.m., Edwards entered the bar and was told by the acting manager, Teresa Williams, that he could not enter the bar until he spoke with the owner. Edwards began arguing, and a customer, Toby Fowlks, told Edwards that he needed to leave. Edwards told Fowlks that he was not scared and that Fowlks could not "kick" his "ass." Fowlks chased Edwards out of the bar. Outside, Fowlks struck Edwards in the face, and Edwards left in his vehicle.
Less than an hour later, Edwards returned to the bar with a shotgun in his hands, and asked, "Where's that son of a bitch that hit me?" After seeing Fowlks, Edwards said, "Oh, there you are, " and shot Fowlks twice, killing him. Edwards then turned to the bartender and said, "Fuck you too." He shot twice at her but she ducked behind a gaming machine, thus avoiding injury. When Edwards left the bar, other patrons at the bar followed him, and after a struggle, the patrons were able to disarm Edwards.
Prior to trial, Edwards obtained the services of Dr. Albert Kittrell, an expert in the field of psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. Doctor Kittrell conducted an evaluation of Edwards in which he opined in his report that Edwards suffered from a mental disease-a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified-at the time of the offenses. Doctor Kittrell noted that, at the time of the offenses, "several factors impacted Mr. Edwards's capacity for purposeful conduct" and that he was "experiencing considerable emotional upheaval." Doctor Kittrell, however, opined that, even though Edwards was diagnosed with a mental disease and was psychotic at the time of the offenses, Edwards nonetheless did not lack the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and did not lack the capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law at the time of the offenses. In his summary, Dr. Kittrell noted that "Edwards had impairment in his capacity to have culpable mental state required to establish an element of the offenses charged."
At an in-camera hearing on Edwards's fitness to proceed, with the circuit court presiding, Dr. Kittrell was asked on what he "base[d] the fact that [Edwards] had the impairment of the ... culpable mental state?" Dr. Kittrell noted the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified, meaning that "at some point he had lost contact with reality and when I saw him he continued to have ongoing impairment." Doctor Kittrell noted that Edwards told him that he hallucinated and heard voices and was suspicious and paranoid. Doctor Kittrell noted that Edwards had not received treatment for these conditions.
On the day of the trial, the State argued that Dr. Kittrell should not be allowed to testify that he did not believe that Edwards "had the ability to do a purposeful mental state." In response, Edwards's attorney asserted that Edwards was entitled to a defense and that the jury should determine whether he had a culpable mental state. The court took the motion under advisement, and during the trial, the court ruled that "Dr. Kittrell cannot testify to his opinion as to whether [Edwards] had the capacity to form a purposeful intent." The court instructed Dr. Kittrell that he could render an opinion on Edwards's "ability to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law" but could not opine "as to his ability to form the requisite mental intent for this crime."
During his testimony, Dr. Kittrell again opined that Edwards suffered from a mental disease, a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified. He noted that Edwards suffered from auditory hallucinations. The doctor further noted that Edwards was limited in his ability to handle stressful situations. On cross-examination, Dr. Kittrell testified that in his report he had opined that Edwards's psychotic disorder did not render Edwards unable to appreciate ...

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