FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 46CR-16-721]
HONORABLE BRENT HALTOM, JUDGE
Phillip A. McGough, P.A., by: Phillip A. McGough, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE
Sherry Lashay Woods was convicted of the second-degree murder
of Jeffrey Baker, and the jury sentenced her to thirty years
in prison. Woods admitted that on October 5, 2016, she
stabbed Baker with a knife during an altercation with her and
her two teenage sons. Baker died as a result. Woods argues on
appeal that the trial court erred in denying her motion for
directed verdict on the second-degree-murder charge,
asserting that she was justified in defending herself and her
sons and that she was acting under extreme emotional
disturbance. The State contends that appellant's
arguments are not preserved for appellate review. Because we
agree with the State that appellant's arguments are not
preserved for appellate review, we affirm without reaching
the merits of appellant's arguments.
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we review the
evidence in the light most favorable to the State and
consider only the evidence that supports the conviction.
Cluck v. State, 365 Ark. 166, 226 S.W.3d
780 (2006). Evidence is sufficient if it is of such character
and force that it, with reasonable certainty, compels a
conclusion one way or the other without resort to speculation
or conjecture. Id. The credibility of witnesses is
an issue for the jury. Kinsey v. State, 2016 Ark.
393, 503 S.W.3d 772. 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.
order to preserve a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence in a jury trial, a criminal defendant must make a
motion for directed verdict at the close of the evidence
offered by the prosecution and at the close of all the
evidence. Ark. R. Crim. P. 33.1(a) (2016). A motion for
directed verdict shall state the specific grounds therefor.
Maxwell v. State, 373 Ark. 553, 559, 285 S.W.3d 195,
200 (2008). Without a circuit court ruling on a specific
motion, there is nothing for this court to review.
Id. Failure to abide by these procedural rules
renders any question of the sufficiency of the evidence
waived on appeal. Ark. R. Crim. P. 33.1(c); Bradley v.
State, 2013 Ark. 58, 426 S.W.3d 363. An appellant must
make a specific motion for a directed verdict that advises
the trial court of the exact element of the crime that the
State has failed to prove. Conley v. State, 2011
Ark.App. 597, 385 S.W.3d 875. Rule 33.1 is strictly
construed. Pratt v. State, 359 Ark. 16, 194 S.W.3d
appellant's attorney made the following motion for
directed verdict at the close of the State's evidence:
I have a Motion for Directed Verdict. I do not think the
state has met the element of murder in the second degree in
that they have failed to prove it. Ms. Woods knowingly caused
the death of uh, Jeffrey Baker. I think there has been
testimony that she was defending her uh, defending her sons,
and that she tried to break this up and stop this several
times, and I do not think the state has met their burden that
she knowingly caused the death of someone under the
circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value
of human life, or for the purposes of causing serious
physical injury caused the injury caused the death of someone
prosecutor argued that the motion should be denied. The trial
court responded that it knew that appellant's defense was
justification but that this would be a fact question for the
jury to determine. The trial court denied appellant's
directed-verdict motion. After appellant testified in her own
defense, her attorney renewed the motion for directed
verdict, which was again denied.
jury was subsequently instructed that Woods was asserting
justification as a defense to the charge of second-degree
murder or the lesser-included offense of manslaughter. The
jury was instructed that this was a defense only if Woods
reasonably believed that the deceased was committing or about
to commit a felony with force or violence and if Woods only
used such force as she reasonably believed was necessary. The
jury instruction further provided that
Woods would not have been justified in using deadly physical
force if she knew that the use of deadly physical force could
be avoided with complete safety by retreating. However, she
is not required to retreat if she is in her dwelling or on
the curtilage surrounding her dwelling, and is not the
jury returned a guilty verdict on second-degree murder, and
this appeal followed. Woods argues on appeal that Baker was
known to have a history of domestic violence with his
girlfriend and that he was aggressive, highly intoxicated,
and violent on that date, justifying her use of deadly force.
Woods also asserts that she regularly carried protection,
such as a taser or knife, when she walked from her house, and
she was only protecting her two sons who were engaged in an
altercation with Mr. Baker. We cannot reach these arguments.
cannot enlarge or change the grounds for an objection or
motion on appeal but is bound by the scope and nature of the
arguments made at trial. Kinsey, supra. In
Mr. Kinsey's appeal of his murder convictions for killing
two men with a machete, Kinsey argued that there was
insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions because the
State failed to negate his defense of justification. Mr.
Kinsey argued on appeal that the State failed entirely to
address his claim of self-defense and did not offer any
evidence disproving that the deceased men were the
aggressors. Mr. Kinsey also contended that any evidence the
State presented was not of sufficient force and character to
compel reasonable minds to reach a conclusion and pass beyond
suspicion and conjecture. The State responded that Mr.
Kinsey's argument was not preserved for review. Our
supreme court agreed with the State because, in his
directed-verdict motion, Mr. Kinsey failed to ...