FROM THE CLARK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 10CR-15-20]
HONORABLE ROBERT MCCALLUM, JUDGE
Terrence Cain, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Bailey Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
DAN KEMP, Chief Justice
Laron Williams and two accomplices, Craig Wade and James
Gray, Jr., were charged with aggravated robbery and capital
murder. Appellant was tried individually by a Clark County
jury, found guilty on both counts, and sentenced to a total
term of life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole. For reversal, appellant contends that the
circuit court (1) erred in denying his motions for directed
verdict and (2) abused its discretion by admitting into
evidence gruesome and inflammatory photographs of the
victim's body. We affirm.
case arises from the aggravated robbery and capital murder of
Christopher Brown at a Caddo Valley Shell gas station and
convenience store. Brown was the clerk on duty at the time.
The criminal episode was captured on time-stamped
surveillance videos, which were played for the jury.
morning of January 24, 2015, Craig Wade and James Gray, Jr.,
picked up appellant at his home in Pine Bluff. At
approximately 2:00 p.m., the three left Pine Bluff and drove
in Gray's car to the casino at the Oaklawn racetrack in
Hot Springs. They gambled, drank alcohol, and used drugs for
several hours before starting back to Pine Bluff during the
early morning hours of January 25. While driving home, they
realized that the car was low on fuel and that none of them
had any money.
show Gray's car, a silver Ford, pulling up to the store
for the first time at approximately 4:25 a.m. Appellant and
Wade exited the vehicle and went inside the store. After
buying a package of gum, the two returned to the car and
drove away from the station at 04:30:50.
04:38:11, the silver Ford returned to the Shell station and
parked near the back entrance of the store. No one exited the
vehicle for more than four minutes. Appellant testified that,
during this time, they were planning how they would steal a
thirty-pack of beer so that they could sell it for gas money.
Appellant further testified that he attempted to conceal his
identity by wrapping a jacket around his waist to cover his
pants pockets and pulling a wave cap down over his face.
show that at 04:42:52, appellant and Wade simultaneously
exited the vehicle. They entered the store together at
04:42:56. Wade ran toward the counter, and at 04:43, he shot
Brown in the forehead. Brown fell to the floor behind the
counter. Wade appeared to be frantic, running inside the
store and then outside to the car, falling twice as he fled.
appellant ran behind the counter, covered his hands with the
t-shirt he was wearing, and attempted to open the cash
register. Unable to open the register, appellant stepped over
Brown's body and appeared to be looking for something to
steal behind the counter. He then leaned over and searched
Brown's pockets. Videos show that appellant stayed in the
store about fifteen seconds longer than Wade. When appellant
exited the store, he left a trail of bloody footprints from
behind the counter into the car, which Gray had positioned to
facilitate a quick getaway.
denied that, during their first trip to the store, he, Wade,
and Gray were "casing it" for a possible robbery.
Appellant maintained he did not know that Wade had a gun and
that he was "shocked" when Wade shot the victim.
Appellant acknowledged that after the shot had been fired, he
could be seen on the video attempting to open the cash
register, stepping over the victim's body, and looking
around behind the counter. Appellant claimed, however, that
he merely pretended to proceed with the crime because he
feared that Wade would shoot him.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
contends that the State failed to prove that he was guilty of
the underlying felony of aggravated robbery to support a
conviction for capital murder. He concedes that his intent to
commit theft was established by his admission that he went
into the store to steal beer. But he contends that there is
insufficient evidence to establish that he was an accomplice