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Rabion v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 18, 2017



          Terrence Cain and Jimmy C. Morris, Jr., for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Korey Rabion appeals his August 10, 2016 convictions for two counts of negligent homicide, arguing that the Dallas County Circuit Court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict based on insufficient evidence of his intoxication at the time of the accident. We affirm.

         On November 1, 2015, Rabion was driving his car on Arkansas Highway 128 between Sparkman and Holly Springs when he swerved over the center line and caused a head-on collision with Edlon Thompson. Ashley Webb was a passenger in Thompson's car. Both Webb and Thompson died of injuries they sustained from the collision.

         Allison Ramsey was driving toward Sparkman when she came upon the accident. She stopped to check on the occupants of the vehicles. She went to the first car, determined the driver and passenger were dead, and returned to her car to call 911. Daylight saving time was to end November 1, 2015, and she testified that, "with the time change, " it was between 1:00 and 1:20 in the morning.[1] After she made the call, she heard a noise coming from the other car, which was flipped over in the ditch next to the road. A man she later identified as Rabion crawled out of the car, walked over to Ramsey, and asked her "what the fuck happened and where the fuck was he." She told him he'd been in a wreck in between Sparkman and Bearden. She testified that Rabion then "turned and started walking toward Bearden." Ramsey called 911 again to report her encounter with Rabion. Law enforcement arrived shortly thereafter and began to investigate.

         Meanwhile, Devonte Smith, Rabion's stepnephew, had just dropped a relative off at home when he saw Rabion walk out of the woods. Smith testified that Rabion was walking as if he was in a lot of pain. Smith let Rabion in his car and Rabion immediately fell asleep, so Smith drove Rabion to Cindy Beck's house. Beck is Smith's mom and Rabion's stepsister. Smith helped Rabion in the house and onto the couch and Rabion fell back asleep.

         Beck and Smith both testified that on the afternoon leading up to the wreck, Beck had been having a family get-together at her house. They both testified that they saw Rabion drinking beer that afternoon. From Beck's house, some of the adults had gone on to a nightclub. Beck testified that she saw Rabion there and at some point he had his head down on a table as if he were sleeping. Beck said that she and her friends left the nightclub sometime after Rabion did and started driving home toward Bearden along Highway 128. She came upon the accident after the police had cordoned off both lanes. An officer told her Rabion's identification had been found at the scene, and she turned around to return home on a different route. When Beck arrived home, she said that Rabion was still asleep on her couch. She woke him up and told him about the accident and how the police had found his identification at the scene. Rabion said he did not remember any accident. Beck called the police. Both Smith and Beck testified that they had not seen Rabion drink any time after the accident and before the police arrived.

         Officials from the Dallas County Sheriffs Office arrived, placed Rabion under arrest, and transported him to their office. Once there, an officer administered a breath test to measure Rabion's blood-alcohol concentration. The test did not yield a usable sample, so Rabion was then transported to the Dallas County Medical Center for a blood test. At 5:10 a.m., Rabion's blood-alcohol concentration was .117. An accident-reconstruction officer with the Arkansas State Police testified that he investigated the accident and concluded that Rabion's car had crossed the center line and struck Thompson's vehicle head-on.

         On January 12, 2016, the State filed a felony information charging Rabion with two counts of negligent homicide, failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury or death, driving with an invalid license, and driving while intoxicated. On May 23, 2016, the State filed an amended information to add a habitual-offender count.

         Rabion's jury trial took place on August 8 and August 9, 2016. A jury found him guilty of each offense charged in the amended information and recommended a sentence of forty years' imprisonment and a fine of $10, 000 for each count of negligent homicide, and a sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment and a fine of $10, 000 for failing to stop after an accident resulting in injury or death.

         The jury recommended that he serve the sentences consecutively, which resulted in a total of ninety-five years' imprisonment and fines totaling $30, 000. The circuit court ordered that Rabion serve his sentences for driving with an invalid license and driving while intoxicated concurrently with his sentences for his felony convictions. The circuit court entered the sentencing order on August 10, 2016, and Rabion filed a timely notice of appeal on August 31, 2016.

         Rabion first argues that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and thus the circuit court should have granted his motion for a directed verdict on the negligent-homicide charges. A motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Witcher v. State, 2010 Ark. 197, at 1, 362 S.W.3d 321, 322. When reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court assesses the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and considers only the evidence that supports the verdict. Gillard v. State,366 Ark. 217, 221, 234 S.W.3d 310, 313 (2006). A conviction will be affirmed if substantial evidence exists in the record to support it. Tillman v. State,364 Ark. 143, 146, 217 S.W.3d 772, 775 ...

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