FROM THE PRAIRIE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
59NCR-15-38] HONORABLE THOMAS MORGAN HUGHES, JUDGE.
Hancock Law Firm, by: Sharon Kiel, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE.
Norman Ray Bullock was convicted by a jury in Prairie County
Circuit Court of first-degree murder of his wife, Dayla
Bullock, for which he was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Appellant argues on appeal that the trial court erred (1) in
denying his motions for directed verdict because there was
insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of his
daughter, April Bullock, who appellant contends was an
accomplice and was not a credible witness and (2) in denying
his motion for a mistrial. Appellant's first point on
appeal is not preserved for appellate review, and his second
point on appeal holds no merit. We therefore affirm.
the State presented its case-in-chief, defense counsel moved
for directed verdict "for the State's failure to
prove their case." Defense counsel recited that
appellant was charged with first-degree murder, which
required the State to prove the following beyond a reasonable
That [with] the purpose of causing the death of Dayla
Bullock, Norman Bullock caused the death of Dayla Bullock. We
say the State has failed to meet a prima facie case on that.
attorney did not renew this motion until after the jury had
rendered a guilty verdict, while the jury was deliberating on
what sentence to impose. At that time, defense counsel stated
to the trial court:
I screwed up on this, in that when we closed, I didn't
re-do my motions. I don't know if it's going to be
any good at this point, but I want to go ahead and put those
on the record and re-do my motions.
counsel's renewed motion for a directed verdict was
denied. Thereafter, the jury returned to open court and
rendered the ten-year prison sentence.
appeal, appellant contends that there was insufficient
evidence to support the incriminating testimony of his adult
daughter, April Bullock. Appellant specifically argues that
April was an accomplice whose testimony was required to be
corroborated. Appellant also argues that April suffers from
mental-health issues, her testimony was not compatible with
the physical evidence, and her testimony was not credible. We
do not reach these arguments because appellant failed to
preserve his arguments for appellate review.
treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Snider v. State, 2010
Ark.App. 694, 378 S.W.3d 264. The test for determining the
sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is
supported by substantial evidence, either direct or
circumstantial; evidence is substantial if it is of
sufficient force and character to compel reasonable minds to
reach a conclusion and pass beyond suspicion and conjecture.
Id. On appeal, we view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the State, considering only that evidence
supporting the verdict. Id. A jury is free to
believe all or part of a witness's testimony, and we do
not weigh the credibility of witnesses on appeal-that is a
job for the finder of fact, not the appellate court.
Foster v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 63, 510 S.W.3d 782.
Arkansas law is clear that a conviction cannot be had in any
case of felony on the testimony of an accomplice unless it is
corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the
defendant with the commission of the offense. Procella v.
State, 2016 Ark.App. 515, 504 S.W.3d 686.
order to make these challenges on appeal, however, appellant
was required to strictly comply with Arkansas Rule of
Criminal Procedure 33.1 (2017), which mandates the content
and timing of directed-verdict motions at trial. Appellant
failed to comply with Rule 33.1. First, appellant's
initial motion was too general and lacked any specific
challenge to the State's proof, as required by Ark. R.
Crim. P. 33.1(a) and (c). Second, appellant's motion did
not mention credibility of witnesses, nor did it mention the
requirement of corroboration of accomplice
testimony. An appellant is bound by the scope and
nature of the arguments raised at trial. Stewart v.
State, 2012 Ark. 349, 423 S.W.3d 69; Brewer v.
State, 2017 Ark.App. 119, 515 S.W.3d 629. And third,
even if the initial motion contained the necessary
specificity and included these arguments, appellant failed to
renew the motion for directed verdict at the appropriate
time, as required by Ark. R. Crim. P. 33.1(a) and (c) (at the
close of the State's case and renewed at the close of all
the evidence). Appellant's attorney admittedly waited
until it was too late, presenting the renewal after the jury
had begun deliberating on his sentence, which was after the
jury had already found him guilty of first-degree murder.
See Cathey v. State, 351 Ark. 464, 95 S.W.3d 753
(2003). We are therefore precluded from reaching
appellant's sufficiency-of-the-evidence arguments on
other point on appeal asserts that the trial court erred by
denying his motion for a mistrial. Appellant contends that
during a recess in jury selection, the prospective jurors
could have seen a State's witness (investigating officer
Duerson) walk out of the trial judge's chambers, which
opens into the general courtroom. Appellant asserted that
this gave the appearance of impropriety that deprived
appellant of a fair trial; appellant did not move for the
trial judge's recusal. Appellant asserted that there was
no jury instruction that could cure the issue because it
would only emphasize that a State's witness was having a
discussion in the judge's ...