FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 46CR-14-480]
HONORABLE BRENT HALTOM, JUDGE
Knutson Law Firm, by: Gregg A. Knutson, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
December 7, 2016, a Miller County jury convicted appellant
Ronald Anthony Antoniello of thirty counts of distributing,
possessing, or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit
conduct involving a child in violation of Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-27-602 (Repl. 2013). He received ten-year
sentences on each count, to run consecutively, for a total of
300 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He now
appeals, arguing that the circuit court erred in (1)
admitting evidence of other child pornography for which he
was not charged; (2) admitting testimony from
Antoniello's former stepdaughter about past molestation
by Antoniello; and (3) denying Antoniello's
Batson challenge. We affirm.
appeal centers around three pretrial motions and the
consequences of those rulings. The relevant facts are these.
At the trial, the State presented evidence that the
cyber-crimes unit of the Arkansas Attorney General's
Office had identified a computer that had downloaded videos
of child pornography using a BitTorrent client. The
investigator, James Lett, subpoenaed the internet service
provider to find out the name and address of the subscriber
corresponding to the IP address identified during the
investigation. The information returned identified
Antoniello. A search warrant was issued, and a search was
conducted at Antoniello's home.
the search, the investigators discovered a computer and a
hard drive that contained suspected videos and images of
child pornography. The computer and hard drive also contained
search terms that are known to be used by people searching
for illegal child pornography. There were also lists of
websites, DVDs, CDs, and other items found at the home.
trial, the State indicated its intention to introduce
evidence pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Evidence Rule 404(b).
The trial court allowed the introduction of Rule 404(b)
evidence over Antoniello's objection. In particular,
Agent Chris Cone testified that Antoniello's computer had
"over three thousand" images or videos depicting
child pornography. However, Antoniello was not charged with
possession of these images or videos and none of the
"three thousand" images or videos were introduced
at trial. The court overruled Antoniello's objection and
allowed Agent Cone to testify to the amount of child
pornography he found through his investigation.
same motion, the State also sought to offer evidence of
"other instances of sexual acts involving
children." The court granted the motion, and at
sentencing, the State introduced evidence that involved
Antoniello's former stepdaughter, who lived in Florida
and whom he had not seen for nearly forty years. The
stepdaughter testified about how Antoniello had sexually
assaulted her when she was only nine or ten years old.
Antoniello challenges on appeal the State's peremptory
strikes against two black jurors during jury selection.
Antoniello, however, made his challenge on this point to the
court after the jury had been sworn in. Antoniello argued
that the State did not provide a race-neutral reason for the
strikes. The court found the motion was not timely and denied
References to Additional Child Pornography
previously mentioned, the circuit court permitted the State
to introduce, over Antoniello's objection, testimony that
Antoniello's computer contained "over three
thousand" child-pornography images, for which Antoniello
was not charged with possessing. Antoniello objected to the
Rule 404(b) evidence on the basis of Arkansas Rule of
Evidence 403, which provides that relevant evidence may be
excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed
by the danger of unfair prejudice.
Rule of Evidence 404(b) provides that evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove character,
but the evidence may be admissible for other purposes, such
as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan,
knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
Circuit courts are afforded wide discretion in evidentiary
rulings; specifically, a circuit court's ruling on issues
relating to admission of evidence under Rules 401, 403, and