FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, GREENWOOD DISTRICT
[NO. 66CR-15-164] HONORABLE JAMES O. COX, JUDGE.
Law Firm, by: Lee D. Short, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE.
Aaron Cutsinger was convicted of one count of first-degree
murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, and one
count of committing the offense of first-degree murder in the
presence of a child. On appeal, he does not challenge the
sufficiency of the evidence; instead, he argues that the
circuit court erred in denying his motion in limine to
exclude part of a text message. While we agree that the
circuit court erred in denying Cutsinger's motion in
limine, the error was harmless in light of the evidence
presented at trial. We therefore affirm.
had a tumultuous relationship with Leanora Rippy. In
September 2015, Rippy's body was discovered on the side
of a mountain road in Sebastian County. She had been run over
repeatedly by a vehicle. Rippy's infant son, S.C., was
also found on the side of the road a short distance away from
her body. S.C. had multiple bruises, contusions, and
abrasions on his head and torso consistent with "road
rash." Cutsinger was arrested within days and charged
with the murder of Rippy and the attempted murder of S.C.
to trial, Cutsinger filed a motion in limine seeking to
exclude evidence of text messages he had sent to a friend,
Scott VanHorn, in the weeks prior to Rippy's death. The
message was part of an exchange of texts between Cutsinger
and VanHorn as follows:
Cutsinger: Tell Lea to piss off and her n her kid can brin
[sic] in hell fuck off you white piece of luring
[sic] trash fuck u
VanHorn: I cannot tell her anything like that. And by texting
me messages you violate the restraining order. I can talk about
anything else but I cannot do what you asked. This is for
everyone's protection. Hope you understand. Here is
hoping you have a wonderful evening.
Cutsinger: Fuck the restraining order I kill them both she a
living white ass bitch I'm ready to kill me some cops
come on you peace [sic] of shit fuck your n [S.C.]
hope you both die
Come at me she done fuck up
You all have God can't even save you!!!
Cutsinger's motion in limine sought to preclude the State
from introducing the last message from him in which he said
he was "ready to kill me some cops." He asserted
that the message had no independent relevance because he was
"not on trial for any offense committed against the
police." He further argued that any relevance this
statement might have was outweighed by the danger of undue