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Jackson v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

May 30, 2018



          Hoskins & Harris, P.A., by: James W. Harris, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Michael A. Hylden, for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         A Mississippi County jury convicted appellant Michael Jackson as an accomplice to first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the shooting death of Yuri McKeever. Jackson was sentenced to an aggregate term of forty years' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his directed-verdict motion and that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting a recording of clips from a surveillance video. We affirm Jackson's convictions.

         I. Trial Testimony

         Eric Farrell, a former detective with the Blytheville Police Department, testified that on June 8, 2016, he responded to the scene of a shooting at a residence belonging to Yuri McKeever. He entered the residence and saw the victim lying face down on the living-room floor in a puddle of blood. Dr. Charles Kokes later testified that Yuri died from two gunshot wounds to the back of his head. Farrell took several photos of the crime scene depicting, among other things, the victim's pockets turned inside out, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, multiple cellular telephones, and a DVR and monitor. He described the residence as a "trap house, " meaning that it was used for trafficking narcotics.

         Farrell stated that there was a camera outside the home pointed toward the victim's front door. He said that the surveillance system was operating because there was a live feed showing his actions, as well as the actions of other law-enforcement officers and EMTs at the scene. He said that he took the DVR to the criminal-investigation division's office and hooked it up to a monitor. Farrell conceded that the footage had an incorrect date and time stamp in that it was off by one day and several hours; however, he created a timeline by going back, scene by scene, until he saw Yuri entering the home that day. He testified that he was unable to make a copy directly from the DVR, so he recorded clips of activity using a camcorder while the surveillance video played on the DVR. Farrell said that he recorded footage from the DVR in ten sections showing everyone who had come to the door after Yuri entered the residence. Based on what was shown on the surveillance video and the identification of the suspects by Yuri's family members, Farrell got arrest warrants for Michael King and Michael Jackson.

         Farrell testified about what he saw on the silent video: Yuri arrived at the residence around 9:20 a.m. Jackson knocked and entered the residence around 9:30 a.m., and King arrived approximately one minute later. As Jackson was leaving the residence, he held the door open for King to enter. Jackson was "walking real slowly, kept looking back, " and then he turned abruptly and went back toward the house "in a hurried manner." Jackson used his t-shirt to open the door and went inside. Jackson was then seen "sprinting" from the house and carrying a bag that he had not had earlier. King could be seen running behind Jackson and pulling something-maybe socks or gloves-from his hands.

         Amber McKeever, Yuri's sister, testified that she had identified Jackson and King on the surveillance video. She said that she had grown up with Jackson and that he was Yuri's best friend. She said that she knew King and that he was also friends with Yuri. Amber identified the bag that Jackson was seen carrying and said that it belonged to Yuri. She said that Yuri kept valuables in the bag, such as money, and possibly drugs.

         Amber also testified about Yuri's surveillance system. She said that Yuri had installed the system because someone had broken into the residence and stolen items and that Yuri had wanted to see "the goings and comings at his apartment." Amber testified that she knew the system had a recording function but that that fact was not something Yuri "put out, as far as it records." Two of Yuri's sisters, Kambri Wells and Tashesa Wells, testified that they knew Jackson and King, that both men were Yuri's friends, and that the bag that Jackson was carrying belonged to Yuri. One of the sisters pointed out that Jackson and King are cousins.

         II. Discussion

         A. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         A motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Mainard v. State, 102 Ark.App. 210, 283 S.W.3d 627 (2008). In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, considering only the evidence that supports the verdict, and we will affirm a conviction if substantial evidence exists to support it. Id. Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force and ...

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