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Harris v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

January 31, 2018

KEITH HARRIS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH DIVISION [NO. 60CR-16-3485] HONORABLE HERBERT WRIGHT, JUDGE

          Willard Proctor, Jr., P.A., by: Willard Proctor, Jr., for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.

         Keith Lamont Harris appeals from the Pulaski County Circuit Court's denial of his motion to transfer two of his cases to the juvenile division of circuit court. Appellant argues on appeal that the trial court's denial of his motions to transfer was clearly erroneous. We affirm.

         Appellant was charged by felony information in case no. 60CR-16-3485 with two counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of theft of property stemming from an incident that occurred on August 21, 2016. The State further requested that appellant's sentence be increased pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-90-120 (Repl. 2016) for committing the felonies while employing a firearm. In case no. 60CR-16-3487, appellant was charged by felony information with two counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of theft of property stemming from an incident that occurred on July 31, 2016. Thereafter, appellant filed a motion to transfer to the juvenile division of circuit court in each case on March 20, 2017, and a joint hearing was held on April 25, 2017.

         At the hearing, Detective Julio Gil testified that he had investigated the incident that occurred on July 31, 2016, after responding to an alleged robbery with two Hispanic victims. The victims reported that four black males had robbed them at gunpoint, taking their cell phones and wallets. One of the victims was able to provide photographs of three of the four robbers after recovering a backup from his iCloud account, which led to appellant's being developed as a suspect. That victim tentatively identified appellant from a subsequent photo spread.

         Detective Chris Johnson testified that he had investigated a separate incident that occurred on August 21, 2016, in which two Hispanic victims had been robbed outside the parking lot of a nightclub. One of the victims, who only spoke Spanish, was able to recover photographs of the suspects from his iCloud account, and that victim positively identified appellant in a subsequent photo spread.

         Jennie Promack testified that she is appellant's juvenile-probation officer. She testified that appellant had been placed on probation in multiple adjudication cases. Appellant had been previously adjudicated delinquent for breaking or entering, criminal mischief, fleeing, and criminal trespass. Appellant more recently had been placed on a nonpriority list to attend the C-Step court-ordered boot-camp program, and appellant's brother had been attending that program. Promack testified that appellant was living at home with his mother and that the home was found to be a suitable home. Appellant's father was accidentally killed in a shooting incident when appellant was approximately five years old. Promack further testified that appellant was sixteen years old at the time of the hearing and testified regarding the various programs offered if appellant's cases were transferred to the juvenile division. She additionally stated that it was her opinion that appellant could be rehabilitated before juvenile jurisdiction would expire if the cases were transferred.

         Jennifer Walker, appellant's mother, testified that she has twelve children. Walker admitted that appellant was charged with his first juvenile offense in 2012 and continued to have involvement with the juvenile-justice system thereafter. Walker testified that she did not believe that her son had robbed anyone and testified that she did not believe that her son had a firearm. However, Walker admitted that it was her son holding a handgun in one of the pictures. Walker further admitted that appellant was on probation in at least two other cases and that he had at least three other adjudications. Walker indicated that she does her best to take care of appellant but admitted that she could not be with him 100 percent of the time.

         On May 1, 2017, the trial court made written findings in both cases in virtually identical orders on all of the factors enumerated in Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-318(g) (Repl. 2015). The following pertinent findings are from the order entered in case no. 60CR-16-3487:

1. The Defendant is charged with two counts aggravated robbery and two counts theft of property. These are serious offenses involving violence. The nature of the offenses and protection of society would favor prosecution in the criminal division of circuit court.
2. The offenses charged were committed in a violent and premeditated manner.
3. The offenses charged were committed against persons and ...

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