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Wells v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

September 5, 2018

ANFERNEE WELLS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA DISTRICT [NO. 47BCR-15-339] HONORABLE MELISSA BRISTOW RICHARDSON, JUDGE

          The Burns Law Firm, PLLC, by: Meagan Burns, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kathryn Henry, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE

         This appeal asks whether the circuit court erred when it denied Anfernee Wells's request to suppress evidence of his arrest because, he argues, there was no supporting affidavit for the arrest warrant when the warrant first issued. We hold that the warrant process was not fatally flawed and affirm the denial of the motions to suppress.

         I.

         Wells was tried and convicted for murdering Vincent Stone. Stone died of a gunshot wound after playing a pickup game of basketball in a Blytheville park on 22 June 2015. During the April 2017 trial, two witnesses identified Wells as one of two gunmen at the Blytheville park that day.

         Wells argued to the circuit court before the trial and during the trial that his arrest for first-degree murder was unlawful. Here, he essentially repeats that the arrest in Detroit, Michigan was bad because the warrant authorizing the arrest was issued without a reasonable-cause affidavit. Wells claims that the fruits of his arrest-that he gave a false name to the arresting officers and that he was arrested in Detroit, making it appear to the jury that he was on the run-should have been suppressed. The circuit court denied the motions, concluding that Wells was lawfully arrested, that no federal or state constitutional violations had occurred, and that there was no police misconduct.

         A warrant must be issued by a "neutral and detached magistrate" and "supported by Oath or affirmation." U.S. Const. amend. IV; Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14 (1948). Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 7.1 sets forth the warrant process in this state:

(b) [A] judicial officer may issue a warrant for the arrest of a person if, from affidavit, recorded testimony, or other documented information, it appears there is reasonable cause to believe an offense has been committed and the person committed it. A judicial officer may issue a summons in lieu of an arrest warrant as provided in Rule 6.1. An affidavit or other documented information in support of an arrest warrant may be transmitted to the issuing judicial officer by facsimile or by other electronic means. Recorded testimony in support of an arrest warrant may be received by telephone or other electronic means provided the issuing judicial officer first administers an oath by telephone or other electronic means to the person testifying in support of the issuance of the warrant.
(c) A judicial officer who has determined that an arrest warrant should be issued may authorize the clerk of the court or his deputy to issue the warrant.

         Simply summarized, the rule authorizes a judge to issue an arrest warrant if, from the information presented, there is reasonable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and the person to be arrested committed it. Blanchett v. State, 368 Ark. 492, 496, 247 S.W.3d 477, 480 (2007). An arrest warrant is valid when a sworn complaint or testimony adequately sets forth the underlying facts and circumstances for an arrest. Id. The State cannot save an insufficiently supported warrant by arguing that the police had additional information to support the probable-cause statement but failed to disclose it to the issuing judge. Whiteley v. Warden, Wyo. St. Penitentiary, 401 U.S. 560, 568 (1971). But see Moya v. State, 335 Ark. 193, 981 S.W.2d 521 (1998) (holding that additional information known to a police officer but not previously disclosed to the magistrate may be used for the limited purpose of determining the good faith of the police officer).

         A timeline is helpful to further understand this case. The ...


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