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Green v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 21, 2018



          Daren J. Nelson, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Following a jury trial, the Union County Circuit Court entered a sentencing order convicting Jeremiah Green of first-degree murder, an enhancement for committing first-degree murder in the presence of a child, an enhancement for employing a firearm as a means of committing first-degree murder, and possession of a firearm by certain persons. Jeremiah was sentenced to imprisonment for forty years, ten years, fifteen years, and fifteen years, respectively, to run consecutively, for a total of eighty years. Jeremiah appeals the sentencing order, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the first-degree-murder conviction and the possession-of-a-firearm conviction. We affirm.

         On July 24, 2015, Jeremiah was charged by information with first-degree murder and possession of firearms by certain persons. The information further alleged that Jeremiah employed a firearm in committing first-degree murder and that he did so in the presence of a child. The information was later amended to allege that Jeremiah previously had been convicted of more than one felony, but less than four felonies; therefore, Jeremiah was charged as a habitual offender.

         On November 3 and 4, 2016, a jury trial was conducted during which the State called numerous witnesses, and through their testimony it was established that shortly before 2:00 p.m. on July 5, 2015, at the Hillsboro Manor apartment complex in El Dorado, Arkansas, a male, identified as Cameron Johnson, was found dead lying face down in a large pool of blood between two vehicles in the parking lot of the complex.

         Ten-year-old K'Naya Buggs testified that she lived at Hillsboro Manor. K'Naya had been popping firecrackers on July 5, 2015, when she saw Cameron talking to Shakorey Wade, K'Naya's mother's boyfriend. Cameron was standing in the parking lot near his vehicle and K'Naya's mother's vehicle. K'Naya asked Cameron to light her punk so she could continue to pop firecrackers. When it began to rain, K'Naya went into the doorway of her building. She said at that time Shakorey had gone inside and that Cameron was alone in the parking lot. She was leaning out of her door when she saw Jeremiah, whom she knew, "sneak" up behind Cameron and shoot him in the back. She testified that she saw Jeremiah holding a black gun but did not hear the shot because people were shooting firecrackers in the area. She further stated that she saw Cameron fall but did not think that he had been shot until she saw blood on the ground.

         Lashena Stanley testified that she lived at Hillsboro Manor, and on the day in question, Keet Miller knocked on her door and asked her to come outside to check on Cameron. She did and found him lying on the ground in a pool of blood in the parking lot between two vehicles. Lashena testified that she witnessed Keet go through Cameron's pockets, enter Cameron's vehicle and remove a black backpack, and run away. Lashena testified that she did not see Jeremiah at this time; however, she stated that she had seen K'Naya playing outside before the shooting.

         Sergeant Scott Harwell of the El Dorado Police Department testified that he found a gun-shell casing near where Cameron's body was found. Deborah Pumphrey, a forensic-firearm and tool-mark examiner with the Arkansas State Laboratory, testified that the gun-shell casing was fired from a nine-millimeter gun.

         El Dorado Police Department criminal investigator Angela Means testified that Cameron was shot in the right side of his neck.[1] She said that the investigation led to Jeremiah as a suspect in Cameron's death. She was unable to locate him immediately, but Jeremiah's father, Richard Miller, brought him to the police department on the evening of July 6, 2015.

         Officer Means stated that she interviewed Jeremiah on two occasions and that Jeremiah's version of events continually changed. Jeremiah first said that on July 5, 2015, he had been at Hillsboro Manor visiting friends from 12:45 p.m. to about 1:30 p.m. Jeremiah said that his father picked him up around 1:30 p.m. and drove him to Little Rock where he stayed until the late afternoon of July 6, 2015. Officer Means called Jeremiah's father to confirm the alibi, and Jeremiah's father stated that it was not true. Officer Means interviewed Jeremiah again on July 8, 2015. Jeremiah admitted that the story he told about his father picking him up around 1:30 p.m. was not true. He said that he had been driving around with Briana Ford smoking marijuana when he received a call from "Ray" accusing him of killing Cameron. Miracle Rogers and Victoria Fikes testified that they saw Jeremiah at Hillsboro Manor on July 5, 2015.

         Keet, Jeremiah's cousin, testified that he and Cameron were standing in the parking lot when Jeremiah walked toward them with a black gun sticking out of his right back pocket. Keet testified that Jeremiah ran by Keet, shot Cameron, and ran away. Keet admitted going through Cameron's pockets and opening Cameron's car but denied taking a backpack out of it. During cross-examination, Keet admitted that he initially did not tell the police what had happened and that he had lied to police when he said that he did not see the shooter's face. However, he stated that he was telling the truth at trial when he positively identified the shooter as Jeremiah. He also stated that he had recently been charged with capital murder in connection with Cameron's death and that his charges would be reduced if he testified against Jeremiah.

         The State also presented the testimony of Shree Johnson and Greg Hayes, friends of Jeremiah's father, Richard. Shree and Greg testified that in the summer of 2016, they had a conversation with Richard about Jeremiah.[2] They said that Richard told them that the police were looking for the murder weapon; then, he pulled a black nine-millimeter gun out of his pocket, set it on the ...

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