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Rogers v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Divisions II, III

October 18, 2017

EDWARD DARNELL ROGERS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH DIVISION [NO. 60CR-15-390] HONORABLE HERBERT T. WRIGHT, JUDGE

          Hancock Law Firm, by: Sharon Kiel, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.

         A Pulaski County jury found appellant Edward Darnell Rogers guilty of three counts of rape and sentenced him as a habitual offender to an aggregate term of forty years in prison. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his directed-verdict motions and abused its discretion in not allowing him to impeach one of the victims with a misdemeanor conviction for theft of property. We agree with Rogers's second point and therefore reverse and remand.

         I. Trial Testimony

         In 2003 or 2004, Tia Bryant moved to a neighborhood in North Little Rock with her five children-four daughters and one adult son. Rogers already lived in that neighborhood with his mother. Bryant and Rogers began dating, and Rogers moved into Bryant's home in 2006.

         The four daughters from oldest to youngest are L.W. (DOB: 6-23-1994), twins Mi.B. and T.B. (DOB: 6-27-1998), and Ma.B. (DOB: 5-5-2000). All four girls testified that they thought of Rogers as their father and that he had transported them to school and after-school events, had cooked for them, had bought them clothes and shoes, and had even disciplined them. All four girls also testified that Rogers began touching them inappropriately when they were teens. They each described multiple sexual encounters with Rogers that involved penetration. They further testified that Rogers had warned them not to tell anyone about the encounters.

         Tia Bryant stated that her daughters eventually told her what Rogers had done to them and that she had made Rogers move out in October 2013. He moved four houses down; he was permitted to keep a key to Bryant's home; and the children continued to be around Rogers and his family. Bryant testified that Rogers had apologized and that he had said that he made a mistake, that it would never happen again, and that he would continue to support her financially. Bryant said that she gave Rogers the benefit of the doubt and did not report the rapes until November 2014.

         Rogers testified on his own behalf, along with various family members, friends, and neighbors. Rogers said that it was his idea to move out of Bryant's home in 2013 because someone had been stealing from him and because of the lack of space. Rogers stated that he continued to see Bryant's daughters and continued to act as their father figure. He denied ever having touched them inappropriately and could not understand why they would tell such lies. According to Rogers, Bryant reported the rape allegations because she was jealous when she saw him with another woman and because she was probably upset that he could no longer continue to support her financially because he was providing for his wife and five children.

         The jury found Rogers guilty of raping L.W., Mi.B., and Ma.B., but the jury found him not guilty of raping T.B. The jury sentenced Rogers to twenty years for raping L.W. and Mi.B. and to forty years for raping Ma.B.[1]

         II. Discussion

         A. Sufficiency

         Because of double-jeopardy concerns, we address Rogers's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence before our review of any asserted trial errors. Foshee v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 315. A directed-verdict motion is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence and requires the movant to apprise the trial court of the specific basis on which the motion is made. Rounsaville v. State, 372 Ark. 252, 273 S.W.3d 486 (2008). Arguments not raised at trial will not be addressed for the first time on appeal, and parties cannot change the grounds for an objection on appeal, but are bound by the scope and nature of the objections and arguments presented at trial. Id.

         Rogers contends that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for rape because the victims' testimony was inconsistent; there was no physical evidence of rape; and there was a one-year delay in reporting the alleged crimes.

         Defense counsel made the following directed-verdict motions at trial:

Judge, on the count against Ma.B., State has failed to meet a prima facie case in that they've failed to show that Edward Rogers engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with Ma.B. and that Ma.B. was less than 14 years of age at the time of the alleged offense. . . . .
I'm gonna make the next two motions because they are the same as the [sic] T.B. But the State has failed to make a prima facie case that Edward Rogers engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with either Mi.B. or L.W., and that Mi.B. and L.W. were less than 18 years of age at the time of the ...

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