FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-15-518]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Schulze, Murphy & Patterson, by: Darryl E.
"Chip" Baker, Bobbi Patterson, and J.G.
"Gerry" Schulze, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
DAN KEMP, CHIEF JUSTICE.
Jonathan Ryan Hill appeals an order of the Faulkner County
Circuit Court convicting him of aggravated residential
burglary and sentencing him to a term of life imprisonment.
For reversal, Hill argues that the circuit court erred in (1)
denying his motion for directed verdict, (2) refusing to
admit character evidence of a victim, (3) admitting text
messages from Hill's cell phone, and (4) refusing to
allow the cross-examination of an investigating officer with
a prior inconsistent statement. Pursuant to Arkansas Supreme
Court Rule 1-2(a)(2) (2017), we have jurisdiction of this
appeal because Hill received a life sentence. We affirm.
Eric Woodward of the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office
relayed the following facts constituting probable cause in an
affidavit signed on August 20, 2015. According to Woodward,
the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office responded to a
Damascus residence in the early morning hours of July 10,
2015, for an alleged home invasion. Deputy Brian Kesterson
met the two residents, Cornenia "Cle" Dillard and
Donna Salvo, and performed a search of the premises. After
discovering that the suspects had left the residence, he
interviewed Dillard and Salvo. Dillard stated that he was
asleep on the living room couch when a white male intruder
woke him, held a knife against his throat, and demanded money
and pills. Dillard stated that he did not have those items
but that Salvo may have them. According to Dillard, the
intruder proceeded toward Salvo's bedroom, and "a
scuffle ensued." Dillard grabbed a small .25-caliber
pistol and went into the bedroom where he saw the intruder
holding a shotgun that had been stored in the bedroom.
Dillard stated that he fired at the intruder until his gun
jammed but did not know if he had hit the suspect. The
intruder dropped the shotgun and exited the residence by
jumping out the bedroom window. Dillard then felt a pain in
his back and turned around to discover that an unknown white
female had struck him. Dillard told the female that the male
intruder had left, and she exited the residence at that time.
The deputy investigated the scene, processed blood stains and
personal effects, and found a spent shell casing in the
bedroom that matched the type of pistol that Dillard had
County police alerted surrounding law enforcement that a male
suffering from a gunshot wound might seek medical treatment
at a nearby hospital. The Clinton Police Department received
a call and went to the hospital. There, the officers met Hill
and his girlfriend, Stacy Wright, who had driven him to the
hospital and who initially gave the officers a fictitious
name. Hill was transported to Conway Regional Hospital, and
Wright was transported to the detention center for multiple
outstanding warrants. Salvo later identified Hill as the
intruder in a photograph lineup. Testimony revealed that
Dillard had passed away before trial.
September 30, 2016, the State filed an amended felony
information charging Hill as a habitual offender with
aggravated robbery, aggravated residential burglary, and
aggravated assault. Before trial, the State filed a motion in
limine to exclude testimony pursuant to Arkansas Rules of
Evidence 404(a)(2) and 405. In its motion, the State
requested that the circuit court grant the motion to prevent
the defense from calling witnesses to provide testimony
regarding specific instances of Dillard's conduct. The
circuit court granted the motion.
February 22, 2017, the circuit court held a jury trial. After
the State's case-in-chief, Hill moved for a directed
verdict. The circuit court denied the motion and found that
the State had made a prima facie case on all three counts.
After the defense presented its case, Hill renewed his motion
for directed verdict, and the circuit court again denied the
motion. The jury found Hill guilty of aggravated residential
burglary and sentenced him to a term of life imprisonment.
The jury acquitted him of aggravated robbery and aggravated
assault. Hill timely filed a notice of appeal and now brings
his appeal to this court.
Motion for Directed Verdict
first point on appeal, Hill argues that the circuit court
erred in denying his motion for directed verdict.
Specifically, Hill contends that the State lacked substantial
evidence to support the residential-burglary element of the
aggravated-residential-burglary offense, as set forth in
Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-39-204 (Repl. 2013). He
claims that the State failed to prove that he illegally
entered or remained in a dwelling. Hill does not challenge
the second element that he was armed with a deadly weapon or
that he inflicted or attempted to inflict death or serious
physical injury upon another person.
motion for directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency
of the evidence. Marshall v. State, 2017 Ark. 347,
532 S.W.3d 563. In a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence, this court considers only the evidence supporting
the conviction in the light most favorable to the State and
determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial
evidence. Sweet v. State, 2011 Ark. 20, 370 S.W.3d
510. Substantial evidence is evidence that is forceful enough
to compel a conclusion beyond suspicion or conjecture.
Id., 370 S.W.3d 510. Finally, 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. Id., 503 S.W.3d 772.
was convicted of aggravated residential burglary. A person
commits aggravated residential burglary if he or she commits
residential burglary, as defined in section 5-39-201, of a
residential occupiable structure occupied by any person, and
he or she (1) is armed with a deadly weapon or represents by
word or conduct that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon;
or (2) inflicts or attempts to inflict death or serious
physical injury upon another person. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-39-204(a). A person commits residential burglary if he or
she enters or remains unlawfully in a residential occupiable
structure of another person with the purpose of committing in
the structure any offense punishable by imprisonment. Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-39-201(a)(1). Serious physical injury is
defined as a physical injury that creates a substantial risk
of death or that causes protracted disfigurement, protracted
impairment of health, or loss or protracted impairment of the
function of any bodily member or organ. Ark. Code Ann. §
case at bar, Salvo testified at trial that she had been
asleep in bed when she heard her name and awoke. She saw Hill
walk in the door, and he asked, "Where's the pills?
Where's the money?" According to Salvo, Hill grabbed
her and threw her down. When she "got up and went toward
him, " Hill threw her on the bed, grabbed Dillard's
twelve-gauge shotgun propped in the bedroom corner, pointed
the gun at her, and pulled the trigger. She heard the click,
but the gun did not fire. Salvo stated that Dillard then
entered the room. Hill pointed the shotgun at Dillard, and
Dillard fired a shot. Salvo said that she heard two shots,
but she did not know who had been shot. Salvo testified that
Hill pushed her backward and jumped out the window. She
stated that she and Dillard went into the living room, where
she saw "a lady" who asked, "Is he still in
there?" Salvo responded, "No. Get out of
here." She then called the police.
Salvo's testimony provides substantial evidence to
support Hill's conviction. Her testimony reveals that
Hill entered and remained in the bedroom and demanded money
and pills. She testified that Hill picked up Dillard's
shotgun and pointed it at her. According to Salvo, Hill
pulled the trigger, and she heard a click. This testimony
supports the elements of aggravated residential burglary
because Hill (1) remained unlawfully in Salvo's bedroom
with the purpose of committing an offense punishable by
imprisonment (2) while armed with a deadly weapon (3)
attempting to inflict serious bodily harm on Salvo. Thus, we
hold that the circuit court did not err in denying Hill's
motion for directed verdict.
Character and Reputation Evidence
second point on appeal, Hill argues that the circuit court
erred in sustaining the State's objection to the
admission of evidence from other witnesses about
Dillard's character and reputation for engaging in sexual
assaults. Hill asserts that this testimony should have been
admissible pursuant to Rule 401 and Rule 405 of the Arkansas
Rules of Evidence, because it was relevant to corroborate
Wright's testimony at trial.
an in camera proceeding before trial, defense counsel stated
that Hill's defense was that Dillard and Hill's
girlfriend, Wright, had a relationship during which she
periodically bought pills from him. Defense counsel claimed
that he assaulted her the night of the offense, and that Hill
"heard her scream and went in." Defense counsel
sought to admit the testimony of other women to show that
Dillard "would use that [time] as an opportunity to
assault young women." The circuit court stated, "I
think Ms. Wright can testify as to what she says occurred the
night she went into the house. We're not going to bring
all these other folks in here to testify about that."
The circuit court further ruled that Wright could testify
about what had occurred the night of the offense and stated
that Hill could proffer the "other witnesses at some
point during the proceedings today."
trial, testifying for the defense, Wright stated that she and
Hill went to Dillard's residence to buy some pills on the
night of the offense. She stated that she frequently bought
pills from Dillard and would often resell the pills and turn
a profit. Wright testified,
We were sitting on the couch and he kind of forced hisself
[sic] over on me and started fondling like my crouch [sic]
and my breast and I just started screaming and tell him get
to off me [sic] and that's when Johnny [Hill] come in and
we-I- when Johnny [Hill] come to the right side where I was
and Cle pulled a gun out and it was in my face and I run
around the back side of the-over the couch, stepped along the
couch and went around to the left side and he started firing
the gun and Jonathan ran into the bedroom that was right
there to the right and he kept firing the gun and I-I
didn't see Jonathan after that.
counsel later proffered the testimony of two witnesses who
allegedly would corroborate Wright's ...