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Harris v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 28, 2018



          Benjamin W. Bristow, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Appellant Duan Harris was convicted in a jury trial of rape, aggravated assault, and interference with emergency communication. The victim was Mia Colley. For these offenses, Mr. Harris was sentenced to ten years in prison.

         Mr. Harris now appeals, raising two arguments for reversal. First, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing Lakeisha Harris to testify about an alleged assault by him against her. Mr. Harris contends that this evidence should have been excluded pursuant to Arkansas Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b). In addition, Mr. Harris challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his aggravated-assault conviction. We affirm.

         Prior to trial, the State filed a motion for the admission of Lakeisha Harris's testimony. This testimony pertained to an assault committed by appellant against Ms. Harris about eleven months after he committed the charged offenses against the victim herein, Mia Colley. In its motion, the State asserted that the attacks against each victim were under similar circumstances and that Ms. Harris's testimony was admissible to show appellant's motive and intent with respect to his assault of Ms. Colley. A pretrial hearing was held on the State's motion, wherein Ms. Harris gave her proposed testimony. Appellant objected to the introduction of this testimony at trial, arguing that it was inadmissible under Arkansas Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b). The trial court found that this testimony was relevant to show appellant's intent and that the probative value was not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. Therefore, the trial court ruled that Ms. Harris's testimony would be admissible at trial.

         At the jury trial, Mia Colley testified about the assault and rape committed by the appellant against her, which occurred on August 14, 2015. Ms. Colley testified that she knew Mr. Harris because they had gone to school together, and that he had recently been over to her apartment a couple of times to visit and eat pizza. On his third visit to her apartment, on August 14, 2015, they had planned to go to a movie. According to Ms. Colley, while he was there she was sitting on her couch and received a text message from another man who asked her to go to a movie. While she was responding to the text, Mr. Harris hit her in the back of the head.

         Ms. Colley testified that, after Mr. Harris struck her in the back of the head, she jumped up off the couch and he came around and hit her two or three more times. Mr. Harris grabbed her by the neck, and he choked and punched her until she was unconscious. Mr. Harris dragged her into her bedroom. When Ms. Colley regained consciousness, she was naked and Mr. Harris was having forcible intercourse with her. Ms. Colley testified that Mr. Harris penetrated her vaginally and anally and that he also forced her to give him oral sex. Mr. Harris had blocked the front door of the apartment with a couch to prevent Ms. Colley from leaving.

         Ms. Colley stated that she was beaten badly, and that after Mr. Harris was finished raping her she asked him if he would take her to the hospital. Mr. Harris at first refused, but he finally agreed to take her to the hospital when Ms. Colley faked an asthma attack. Ms. Colley stated that Mr. Harris had taken her phone from her because he did not want her to call the police. On the way to the hospital, Mr. Harris told Ms. Colley to make up a story about being attacked and raped by a stranger.

         When they arrived at the hospital, Ms. Colley told the nurse that Mr. Harris had beaten and raped her. Mr. Harris left the facility. The nurse observed hemorrhaging in Ms. Colley's eyes, and a rape kit was ordered. Vaginal and anal swabs tested positive for semen that matched Mr. Harris's DNA.

         The police were put on notice to be on the lookout for Mr. Harris's car. Officer Anthony Petty observed Mr. Harris's car traveling at over eighty miles per hour in a nearby town. Officer Petty initiated his lights and sirens and gave chase. According to Officer Petty, Mr. Harris drove almost nine miles before he finally stopped and was taken into custody.

         Two days after his arrest, Mr. Harris agreed to an interview with the police. During the interview, Mr. Harris acknowledged that, on the night of the alleged offenses, he got upset with Ms. Colley after she received a text from another man. Mr. Harris said that he cussed her out and grabbed her by the hair, but he denied striking or choking her. Mr. Harris stated that, after the argument ended, they had consensual sex.

         The State called Lakeisha Harris to testify. Mr. Harris renewed his objection to her testimony on the grounds that it should be excluded pursuant to Arkansas Rules of Evidence 403 and ...

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