FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-14-410]
HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Lee D. Short, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE
Jefferson County jury convicted Billy Joe Davis of aggravated
robbery, first-degree battery, and theft of property. He
appeals his convictions, arguing that the circuit court (1)
abused its discretion by denying his request to continue the
trial to procure a witness and (2) erred by permitting the
State to amend the felony charges at trial. We affirm.
August 14, 2014, the State charged Davis with aggravated
robbery, first-degree battery, and theft of property against
Calvin Jiles. The charges related to a June 24, 2014 incident
in which Davis, Aaron Lovelace, Anphernie Harris, and an
unknown fourth individual allegedly followed Jiles home from
a fast-food restaurant, shot him, and took his money. The
State also charged Lovelace and Harris with crimes related to
the incident, but their charges were severed from Davis's
case. The court set Davis's trial for February 29, 2016.
As of the trial date, the State had not charged the alleged
day of trial, Davis's counsel requested a continuance
because his witness, Chris McGee, had failed to appear. He
asserted that McGee would testify that he was the fourth
individual; that Davis drove him, Harris, and Lovelace to
Jiles's home to sell drugs, not to rob Jiles; that Davis
never exited the vehicle; that Lovelace shot and robbed
Jiles; and that Davis did not intend to rob Jiles.
Davis's counsel explained that Davis had not remembered
McGee's legal name prior to March 2015,  but that month,
he saw McGee in the Dub Brassell Detention Center in Pine
Bluff and obtained his name and birthdate. With this
information, Davis's counsel subpoenaed McGee as a
witness. Davis's counsel admitted that Davis had spoken
with McGee only briefly at the detention center and also
acknowledged that he believed McGee may plead the Fifth
Amendment rather than testify. Davis's counsel filed an
affidavit stating the facts to which he believed McGee would
testify at trial.
State objected to the continuance, and the court denied
Davis's request. In making its ruling, the court noted,
You have no evidence or proof from Mr. McGee that this is
what he would testify [to] and that he will not plead the
Fifth because, if he does [the State is] going to charge him
with aggravated robbery . . . and battery first.
the case proceeded to trial.
testified that he operates a barbeque-catering business. He
stated that on June 24, 2014, he was walking into his home
following a trip to Church's Chicken when three males
approached him. He explained that two of them appeared to be
lookouts, while a third individual shot him three times and
demanded money. Jiles gave him cash from his pocket along
with a check that he had received from a customer, and the
men ran away. He identified Davis as one of the lookouts.
the State's case, the State moved to amend the criminal
charges. In the original charges, as to the
first-degree-battery charge, the State alleged that Davis,
"[w]ith the purpose of causing physical injury to Calvin
Jiles, caused physical injury to Calvin Jiles by means of a
firearm." At trial, the State asked to amend the
first-degree-battery charge to allege that Davis,
"acting alone or with one or more other persons, [Davis]
commit[ed] or attempt[ed] to commit a felony, and in the
course and furtherance of that felony or flight immediately
therefrom, [Davis] or [an] accomplice cause[d] serious
physical injury to [Jiles] under circumstances manifesting
extreme indifference to the value of human life."
objected to the amendment, arguing that it fundamentally
changed the nature of the original charge, created an unfair
surprise, and was extremely prejudicial to his defense. The
court disagreed with Davis and granted the State's
request to amend the first-degree battery charge.
the jury convicted Davis of all charges and sentenced him to
twenty years' imprisonment for aggravated robbery, ten
years' imprisonment for first-degree battery, and six
months' imprisonment for misdemeanor ...