FROM THE ST. FRANCIS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 62CR-09-294]
HONORABLE RICHARD L. PROCTOR, JUDGE
Simes, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
Lorenzo Harrison appeals after he was convicted by a St.
Francis County jury of murder in the first degree and
possession of a firearm by certain persons. He was sentenced
to serve 300 months' imprisonment for murder in the first
degree and 60 months' imprisonment for possession of a
firearm by certain person, both to be served concurrently. On
appeal, appellant contends that (1) the trial court's
denial of his motion to sever resulted in prejudicial error;
(2) the trial court erred in denying his motions for directed
verdict as to the offense of murder in the first degree; and
(3) the trial court erred in refusing to submit his proffered
jury instruction on the "choice of evils" defense.
4, 2009, appellant shot the victim, Joe Evans (Joe), during a
"block party" in Hughes, Arkansas. Appellant was
later arrested and charged with murder in the first degree, a
Class Y felony, under Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-10-102 (Repl. 2013), and with possession of firearm by
certain persons, a Class D felony, under Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-73-103. A jury trial was held on August
5-8, 2015, and the following facts were introduced at trial.
was testimony that on the day of the incident, the victim,
Joe Evans; his brother, Roosevelt Evans (Roosevelt); and his
cousin, Tavarious Speed (Speed) were all together and
planning to attend the block party. The three men went to a
nearby liquor store; Joe and Roosevelt went inside the store,
but Speed stayed outside. Vanessa Harrison (Vanessa),
appellant's wife, was also in the liquor store with other
women. While Roosevelt and Joe were inside, Joe got into a
heated verbal argument with Vanessa. Roosevelt testified that
as Vanessa and the other women were leaving the store,
Vanessa said she was going to call her husband, appellant, to
get him to do something to Joe.
thereafter, Roosevelt and Joe left the liquor store and were
joined by Speed. As the three men were walking around a
corner en route to the block party, appellant pulled up and
got out of his car with a gun. Roosevelt and Speed each
testified that appellant pointed and fired the gun at Joe and
that Joe ran away. Speed testified that he was then hit in
the head by someone with a gun and was "knocked
out." Roosevelt testified that after Joe ran away,
appellant pursued him and continued to shoot at him.
Roosevelt followed and remained within twenty feet of the
pursuit. At some point, appellant caught up with Joe.
According to Roosevelt, at that point, Joe was facing
appellant with his hands up begging for him to not shoot, but
appellant shot him. Appellant left, and Roosevelt ran to his
brother's aid, picked him up, and carried him to a nearby
car to take him to a hospital. An ambulance was called, and
at some point between Hughes and West Memphis, the car was
met by an ambulance. Joe was transferred to the ambulance and
transported to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. However, Joe
died as a result of his injuries en route to the hospital.
Dr. Frank Peretti testified that Joe had been shot twice, the
fatal shot having been in the abdomen.
the State rested its case, appellant moved for a directed
verdict on the charge of murder in the first degree.
Appellant specifically argued that the State failed to prove
that he had purposely caused the death of the victim and that
Roosevelt's testimony was inconsistent. The trial court
denied the motion.
were two other eyewitnesses to the incident who testified for
the State. Tamara Robinson (Robinson) and Roslyn Rucker
(Rucker) testified that they were in a car approaching the
block party when they saw appellant cross the street in front
of them and walk toward Joe with a gun pointed at him. They
testified that Joe backed away from the situation with his
hands up in the air. Rucker further testified that she saw
Joe mouth the words "put the gun down. Don't shoot
me." Seconds later, appellant fired his gun toward Joe.
Robinson and Rucker testified that they saw Joe turn and run
and that appellant chased him. Robinson and Rucker lost sight
of appellant and Joe. After they drove around the block,
Robinson and Rucker saw Roosevelt carrying Joe to a nearby
were two other witnesses to the incident who testified for
appellant. Vanessa, appellant's wife, and her sister,
Felicia McDonald (Felicia), testified to a different version
of events. Vanessa and Felicia testified that they were in
the liquor store with Joe and Speed. Vanessa testified that
she did not see Roosevelt in the store. Vanessa and Felicia
testified that Joe confronted Vanessa and threw ice at her
while they were in the store. After they left and walked
around the block, they ran back into Joe and Speed. At that
point, Joe threw some type of a firework at Vanessa. The
women testified that Joe and Speed knocked Vanessa to the
ground and punched her repeatedly. Vanessa testified that she
was hit in the side, back, and face. Vanessa further
testified that appellant arrived during the attack, screamed
at the men to get off of her, fired a warning shot, hit Speed
in the back of the head with the pistol, and began tussling
with Joe. Vanessa testified that while the men were fighting,
Felicia grabbed her and that they left the scene. Felicia
testified somewhat differently in that she said she never saw
appellant and that she simply grabbed Vanessa and took her
home as soon as she could get Vanessa away from Joe and
Speed. Felicia additionally stated that she called the police
to report the incident.
Tommy Watlington responded to Felicia's call and took
Vanessa's statement. Lieutenant Watlington testified that
he did not see any physical signs that Vanessa had been
involved in a fight and confirmed that he did not call for
any medical assistance.
the appellant rested, he renewed his motion for a directed
verdict, and the trial court denied his motion.
State then called Chief Deputy Gene Wingo as a rebuttal
witness. Chief Deputy Wingo testified that he went to
appellant's home to interview him the day after the
incident. Vanessa had told him that she did not know the
location of her husband. However, ...