FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-15-491]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Michael Kiel Kaiser and William O.
"Bill" James, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
W. GRUBER, Chief Judge.
20, 2015, the Conway Police Department responded to a 911
call about domestic violence in the apartment where Jolanda
Young lived with her son and daughter, five-year-old TY and
eight-year-old SY. The officers observed damage to the
apartment's front door; multiple marks and
"whelps" on TY; and blood on Jolanda's t-shirt
from a small cut on his thumb. The children's biological
father, Trenton Lamont Jefferson, was initially charged with
residential burglary and second-degree domestic battering. An
amended information added a sentence enhancement for
committing the domestic battering in the presence of a child.
was convicted by a jury and was sentenced to serve a total of
216 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction: 60
months for residential burglary and 120 months for domestic
battering, to be served consecutively, with a 36-month
enhancement for committing domestic battering in the presence
of a child. Jefferson appeals, contending that (1) his
convictions were not supported by substantial evidence, (2)
the circuit court erred in denying his motion for new trial,
(3) the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting
certain testimony under the excited-utterance exception to
the hearsay rule, and (4) the circuit court erred in
restricting his attempts "to explain the black
perspective to white jurors" during closing argument. We
Sufficiency of the Evidence
moved for a directed verdict at the close of the State's
case-in-chief. He contended that the State's evidence was
insufficient to prove residential burglary or second-degree
domestic battering and insufficient to prove that the
domestic battering had been committed in the presence of a
child. The circuit court denied the motion. Jefferson rested
without presenting a case for the defense in the guilt phase
of the trial. He renewed his directed-verdict motion, which
the court again denied.
repeats the arguments that he made at trial, again
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence for his
convictions and sentence enhancement. First, he contends that
there was insufficient evidence of residential burglary
because there was no substantial evidence that he unlawfully
entered or remained in Jolanda's apartment. Second, he
contends that there was insufficient evidence of domestic
battering because there was no substantial evidence that his
acts fell outside the realm of reasonable parental corporal
punishment. Third, he contends that there was insufficient
evidence of committing domestic battering in the presence of
a child because there was no substantial evidence that SY was
physically present or that Jefferson was aware that she may
have been able to hear or see the battering.
motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Lewis v. State, 2016
Ark.App. 257, at 2, 492 S.W.3d 538, 540. When the sufficiency
of the evidence is challenged on appeal, we will view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and will
consider only the evidence supporting the verdict.
Id. Moreover, it is the function of the jury, not
the reviewing court, to evaluate the credibility of witnesses
and to resolve any inconsistencies in the evidence.
Beaver v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 188, at 2. When doing
so, the jury is entitled to draw any reasonable inference
from the evidence and is not required to abandon common
sense. Bridges v. State, 46 Ark.App. 198, 202, 878
S.W.2d 781, 784 (1994). The verdict will be affirmed if it is
supported by substantial evidence, which is evidence forceful
enough to compel a conclusion without resorting to suspicion
or conjecture. Lewis, supra.
these standards, we review the evidence presented at trial.
The State's case included the testimony of Hayden
Schmidt, David Short, and Lois Spencer-all personnel of the
Conway Police Department; Jolanda Young; her father, Morgan
Young; and Dolan Ellis, Jolanda's next-door-apartment
testified that he and his wife heard sounds of a loud bang,
adults and a child yelling, and whipping; the sounds were
coming from his neighbor's adjacent apartment, the
"room in the back . . . directly next to ours across the
wall." He described what he heard as a five- to
ten-minute "beating." He testified that he called
911 when he heard a woman say, "You're going to kill
him." He testified that he and his wife went to the
front after hearing a knock at the neighbor's door, and
they saw that it was his neighbor's father (Morgan Young)
who had knocked. Ellis testified that a man who appeared to
be "extremely angry" came out of the apartment
holding a belt and almost started fighting with Morgan.
According to Ellis, the two men were "right in each
other's faces, " and Morgan told the other man,
"You need to pick on somebody your own size."
Morgan then threatened to call the police, and Ellis told
them that he had already called. At that point, the man with
the belt got in his car-which "was parked right outside
of the apartment not even in a space"-and drove off.
Hayden Schmidt arrived at the residence four minutes after he
had received the 911 call from dispatch. Schmidt described
the apartment's damaged door as having been forced open,
evidenced by splinters of wood and pieces of the doorframe on
the ground.Schmidt testified that just inside the
front door was a trembling young female, SY, "standing
with her shoulders hunched over and her head down" and
with tears running down her face. Schmidt testified that in a
bathroom down the apartment's hallway he found Jolanda
coddling and holding her son. She "was squatted down . .
. on his level." TY "obviously was distraught,
" was crying, and was not wearing any underpants.
Schmidt testified that TY had visible one- to two-inch
lashings and overlapping, raised red welts randomly wrapping
around his body from the middle of his shoulder blades,
across his torso, and "down his backside wrapping around
his legs in the front of his body and going down to his
calves." A small cut on his finger had bled onto
his mother's shirt.
testified that she had been subpoenaed to appear in court and
was testifying against her wishes. She testified that she was
the primary disciplinarian but that on June 20 Jefferson had
her permission to come to her home and discipline TY-who had
talked back and cussed at the barber shop earlier in the day.
She denied having told responding officers that Jefferson
began beating on the door when he arrived and that he became
enraged when she would not let him in. However, she admitted
that her door had not been damaged before then, that
Jefferson caused the marks on their son by
"spanking" him with a belt, that TY's thumb had
not been bleeding before Jefferson arrived, and that the
photographs introduced into evidence accurately reflected
what TY's injuries looked like after Jefferson had left.
She admitted that-although she made no physical attempt to
stop Jefferson from hitting TY-she verbally asked Jefferson
to stop and asked her father to come to her home to
"check things out." She opined that the damage to
the door must have occurred because the doorstop was jammed
when Jefferson tried to open the door, and she said that SY
was in her room when Jefferson came and while TY got spanked.
Young testified that, like his daughter Jolanda, he had been
subpoenaed to testify. He confirmed that he went to the
apartment at her request and, upon arriving, told Jefferson
that he needed to leave. Morgan confirmed that TY was upset
and visibly bruised. Although admitting that he and Jefferson
had "a few words, " Morgan denied saying that he
would call the police and could not remember telling
Jefferson to pick on someone his own size.
David Short investigated the scene at the apartment and
photographed TY's injuries. He testified that upon
arriving, he immediately noticed that the front door had been
damaged and that Jolanda was visibly upset-anxious, shaking,
nervous, and crying. He rejected any suggestion that the door
could have been damaged through use of the doorstop,
explaining that the deadbolt apparently had been latched and
that "the only way" that the door's facing
could have been torn away was "by that deadbolt being
forced through it."
Lois Spencer testified similarly to the other officers that,
upon her arrival, the damage to the door was very evident.
She testified that upon entering the apartment, she spoke
with SY-who was shaking and crying, and who responded that
she was not okay when asked. Spencer testified that she
occupied TY by coloring with him while they waited for
detectives to arrive. She observed that he was holding his
right arm and ribs-which she interpreted as evidence of
tenderness-and that he had visible red marks and a cut on his
Residential Burglary and Second-Degree Domestic Battering
prove residential burglary, the State must show that a
defendant entered or remained unlawfully in the residence of
another person with the purpose of committing an offense
punishable by imprisonment while inside the residence. Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-39-201(a)(1) (Repl. 2013). "To enter
or remain unlawfully" means "to enter or remain in
or upon premises when not licensed or privileged to enter or
remain in or upon the premises." Ark. Code Ann. §
5-39-101(2)(A). Purpose can be established by circumstantial
evidence, which often is the only evidence available to show
intent. Holland v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 49, at 5,
510 S.W.3d 311, 314. The circumstances must be such that the
requisite purpose of the accused can reasonably be inferred,
and the evidence must be consistent with his or her guilt and
inconsistent with any other reasonable conclusion.
battering in the second degree occurs when a person knowingly
causes physical injury to a family or household member the
person knows to be twelve or younger. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-26-304(a)(4). A person acts knowingly with respect to a
result of his or her conduct when he or she is aware that it
is practically certain that his or her conduct will cause
such a result. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202(2) (Repl. 2013).
"Physical injury" is defined in part as the
infliction of substantial pain or inflicting bruising,
swelling, or a visible mark associated with physical trauma.
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-102(14)(B) & (C) (Repl. 2013).
first contends that there is insufficient evidence of
residential burglary. He argues that the evidence showed he
entered and remained lawfully inside the home with the
purpose of inflicting reasonable physical discipline on his
son. Jefferson cites Jolanda's testimony that he had an
open invitation to the apartment, had permission to be there
that day, and had permission to discipline their son for his
behavior at the barbershop. Jefferson also refers to
Ellis's testimony that Jefferson yelled to TY while the
discipline occurred, "You're too young to be lying
to me, boy." He asserts that the fact that he damaged
the door, while perhaps indicating his strength or demeanor,
should not go to determining whether his entry was lawful or
unlawful. He argues that even if his conduct rose to the
level of domestic battering, the evidence did not exclude the
possibility that his purpose was to inflict reasonable
physical discipline on his son. We disagree.
responding officer remarked on the extent of the damage to
the door and doorframe. Detective Short explained that the
damage likely occurred from the door being kicked in while
the deadbolt was engaged, and Ellis testified that he and his
wife heard a loud "bang" at the door. Jolanda
testified that the door was not damaged previously, that she
asked Jefferson to stop disciplining TY, and that she asked
her father to come "check things out." The jury was
free to reject her testimony that Jefferson had ...