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Mosby v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 21, 2018



          John F. Gibson, Jr., for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Vernyell Mosby was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and now appeals, arguing that the circuit court erred in (1) denying his motion for directed verdict, (2) denying his motion to suppress, (3) not allowing the testimony of Dr. Joseph Drumm at the suppression hearing or at trial, and (4) finding that certain statements made to Mosby by a police officer were inadmissible hearsay. We affirm.

         Mosby was charged with two counts of capital murder for the deaths of Michael Reeves and Kentarrious Madden. Generally, the State alleged that on 11 June 2015, Mosby shot Reeves, who had recently started dating Mosby's ex-girlfriend, and Reeves's friend, Madden, and then concealed the bodies in his home.

         After a four-day jury trial in August 2016, Mosby was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to an aggregate term of forty-five years' imprisonment. Mosby filed a timely notice of appeal from his convictions. Specific facts related to each point on appeal will be discussed below.

         I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         This court treats a motion for directed verdict as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. See Tubbs v. State, 370 Ark. 47, 257 S.W.3d 47 (2007). In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id. Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or conjecture. Id. This court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and only evidence supporting the verdict will be considered. Id. The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury and not the court. Morgan v. State, 2009 Ark. 257, 308 S.W.3d 147. The trier of fact is free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and inconsistent evidence. Id.

         At trial, the State presented the following evidence in support of the verdict:

         Martavieon Ward, Reeves's cousin, testified that he knew Mosby from playing basketball but did not know him very well. Ward said that Reeves began dating Korea Myles, Mosby's girlfriend, in June 2015, and that Mosby confronted him (Ward) about it. In a June 8 telephone conversation, Mosby told Ward that "[h]e wasn't gonna let a young n**** take his old lady."

         Korea Myles testified that in June 2015, she and Mosby had been together almost eight years and have two children together. Myles had begun dating Reeves in April 2015, and she moved out of Mosby's home in early June. From late May 2015 until approximately June 10, Myles and Mosby exchanged many text messages in which Mosby expressed his displeasure with the breakup.

         On June 11, Myles listened to a telephone conversation between Reeves and Mosby that Reeves had put on speaker; in that conversation, Mosby asked Reeves to meet him at an apartment complex near his (Mosby's) house. Myles advised Reeves not to go, but Reeves said that he would go and that he and Mosby had met twice before without incident. Later that afternoon, Myles was unable to reach Reeves on his cell phone. Myles called Mosby and planned to stop by his house, but he told her to "give him a little while." She went to his house anyway, but he refused to let her enter the house. Approximately two hours later, Myles successfully entered the home and saw that the carpet in the house had been ripped up and piled in the kitchen.

         Myles left the home to pick up her children and intended to return to the home, but she was stopped by Officer Ricky Cantrell with the Dumas Police Department. Myles asked Cantrell to go to Mosby's house and check things out because Mosby had been "acting weird." Myles advised Cantrell to "check the carpet."

         Scott Rosegrant, a criminal investigator with the Arkansas State Police, testified that the Dumas Police Department requested his assistance with their investigation in the early morning hours of June 12 and that he interviewed Mosby later that morning. Rosegrant was present when another officer explained to Mosby his Miranda rights, and the entire interview was video and audio recorded. The State then played the video of the officers' interview with Mosby in which he explained that he had met Reeves and Madden near his home and that the three men returned to his home to talk. After approximately thirty minutes, "[a]ll the sudden tempers flared, " and Madden charged toward him. Mosby grabbed a gun from under a pillow on his loveseat, and he and Madden began "tussling." While they were fighting, the gun went off and Reeves was shot. A second shot hit Madden in the stomach, and Mosby fired a third shot toward Madden as he was falling. According to Mosby, he then went into "straight panic mode." He disposed of his gun in a trash bag and put it in the bed of a truck parked at a nearby Dollar General, and he wrapped the bodies in sheets, tied them with extension cords, and pulled up all the carpet and piled it on top of the bodies.

         At the conclusion of the video, Rosegrant continued his testimony and said that on August 4, he was advised by Mosby's attorney that Mosby's brother, Camdon Mosby, was in possession of the firearm used in the murders. Rosegrant met with Camdon and recovered the firearm the next day.

         Jermaine Cobbs, Mosby's older brother, testified that on June 11, he had stopped by Mosby's house in the early evening and saw that all the carpet had been pulled up. Mosby told him that he (Mosby) was remodeling. Later that evening, Cobbs's son informed him of several police cars at Mosby's residence, so Cobbs returned to Mosby's house. Cobbs saw Officer Ricky Cantrell, who was a good friend of his, and Cantrell told Cobbs that Mosby was not talking to anyone and asked Cobbs, "Do you think you can talk to him and see what's going on?" According to Cobbs, "So we went to the side, me and Ricky. I said, 'Brother, whatever's going on, tell him. And that's when he said, 'It was two inside.'" Cobbs said he understood that to mean that there were two bodies inside the house. Mosby was then taken into custody.

         Camdon Mosby, Mosby's younger brother, testified that on the afternoon of June 11, Mosby called him and said that he needed a truck. When Camdon arrived later that afternoon, a truck was there, and Mosby told him (Camdon) that there were two dead bodies in the house. Camdon also said that Mosby had given him a gun wrapped in a plastic bag that evening and that he (Camdon) had taken the gun home and "kept it put up" until giving it to Rosegrant. Camdon also explained that on June 11, he had called Officer Ricky Cantrell at Mosby's request because of the fighting between Mosby and Myles.

         Chuck Blevins, an investigator with the Dumas Police Department, testified that he searched Mosby's house in the late-night hours of June 11 and that he found the bodies of Reeves and Madden in the kitchen. According to Blevins, the bodies were wrapped in sheets, tied with extension cords, and concealed under a pile of carpet.

         After the State rested, Mosby moved for a directed verdict as follows:

There is insufficient evidence from which the jury could conclude that Vernyell Mosby is the one who committed these murders. The evidence appears that they were the result of a homicide. That they occurred in Vernyell's home, but there is no physical evidence connecting him to the deaths of these two young men. No fingerprints on a weapon, no gunpowder residue on ...

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