TONY L. JEFFERSON, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-15-134]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Amanda Jegley, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
Tony L. Jefferson, Jr. was convicted by a jury of possession
of methamphetamine with purpose to deliver, possession of
cocaine with purpose to deliver, possession of clonazepam
with purpose to deliver, and driving while intoxicated. For
these convictions, Mr. Jefferson was sentenced as a habitual
offender to a total of forty-eight years in prison. Mr.
Jefferson now appeals from his convictions, and his sole
argument for reversal is that the trial court erred in
allowing the State to present testimony regarding his flight
from the police as evidence of his guilt. We affirm.
point raised by Mr. Jefferson involves an evidentiary ruling
of the trial court. Our standard of review for evidentiary
rulings is that a trial court has broad discretion, and we
will not reverse an evidentiary ruling absent an abuse of
discretion. Hopkins v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 273, 522
S.W.3d 142. Abuse of discretion is a high threshold that does
not simply require error in the trial court's decision
but requires that the trial court act improvidently,
thoughtlessly, or without due consideration. Owens v.
State, 2017 Ark.App. 109, 515 S.W.3d 625. In addition,
we will not reverse absent a showing of prejudice, as
prejudice is not presumed. Edison v. State, 2015
Ark. 376, 472 S.W.3d 474.
testimony at trial showed that on the night of February 27,
2015, the Conway Police Department received a call about a
man sleeping in his car at a gas station parking lot. When
the police arrived, they found Mr. Jefferson asleep at the
wheel in a car with its engine running and parked about a car
length from the gas pump. The police turned off the vehicle
and were eventually able to awaken Mr. Jefferson. When he
awoke, Mr. Jefferson was disoriented and confused.
Mr. Jefferson was removed from the car, he was unsteady on
his feet and was speaking incoherently. It was clear that Mr.
Jefferson was too impaired to be in control of a vehicle, and
he was placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated. The
police searched Mr. Jefferson's person and found a cell
phone and $8205 in cash in his pockets. During an inventory
search of the car, police found a baggie containing
methamphetamine and another cell phone. Mr. Jefferson was
then transported to the police station.
Mr. Jefferson was being booked at the police station, the
police found a baggie containing three
clonazepam pills hidden in his hat. Mr. Jefferson
became unconscious, and out of increasing concern for his
safety, the police called an ambulance. Ambulance personnel
determined that Mr. Jefferson needed to go to the hospital
for further care, and he was transported to the hospital by
Mr. Jefferson arrived at the hospital, it was determined that
he would need to be admitted. While Mr. Jefferson was being
bathed by nurses, the nurses found a baggie containing
cocaine that had been concealed in his buttocks
area and turned it over to the police. Due to his physical
condition caused by apparent high-dose drug ingestion, Mr.
Jefferson was in the intensive-care unit and remained in the
hospital for about three days.
Jefferson left the hospital on his own accord. Meanwhile, a
warrant was issued for his arrest at about the same time on
March 2, 2015. According to Officer Tom Kennedy, he and other
officers immediately began looking for Mr. Jefferson pursuant
to the warrant. Officer Kennedy made phone calls to
informants, contacted a hotel where Mr. Jefferson was
supposed to be working, and conducted surveillance on Mr.
Jefferson's apartment. Officer Kennedy located Mr.
Jefferson on March 23, 2015.
appellant's objection, the State was permitted to
question Officer Kennedy about Mr. Jefferson's flight
from the police upon being found. Officer Kennedy testified
that he saw Mr. Jefferson drive out of his apartment-complex
parking lot on March 23, 2015. Officer Kennedy followed Mr.
Jefferson in an unmarked car and contacted officers in marked
patrol cars to execute the arrest warrant. When officers in a
marked patrol car caught up with Mr. Jefferson and turned on
the blue lights to initiate a traffic stop, Mr. Jefferson
drove away at a high rate of speed. The pursuit led to a
location where Mr. Jefferson stopped his car and fled on
foot. The police set up a perimeter and began searching for
Mr. Jefferson. According to Officer Kennedy, the police
located and apprehended Mr. Jefferson a few hours later in a
appeal, Mr. Jefferson argues that his conviction should be
reversed because the trial court erroneously allowed
testimony about his flight from law enforcement as evidence
of his guilt. Mr. Jefferson contends that this testimony
violated Arkansas Rule of Evidence 404(b), which provides:
Other Crimes, Wrongs, or Acts. Evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the
character of a person in order to show that he acted in
conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for
other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent,