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Rose v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

September 26, 2018

GREGORY ROSE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, OSCEOLA DISTRICT [NO. 47CR-16-189] HONORABLE DAN RITCHEY, JUDGE

          Dusti Standridge, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jacob H. Jones, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE

         A Mississippi County jury convicted appellant Gregory Rose of one count of harassment, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days in the Mississippi County jail; Rose was also ordered to pay a $2, 500 fine.[1] Rose raises three arguments on appeal: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his harassment conviction; (2) the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of his past convictions during sentencing; and (3) the circuit court erred in refusing to set an appeal bond. We affirm.

         I. Sufficiency of the Evidence-Harassment

         A person commits the offense of harassment if, with purpose to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, without good cause, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person, subjects that person to offensive physical contact or attempts or threatens to do so; or, in a public place repeatedly insults, taunts, or challenges another person in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-71-208(a)(1) & (4) (Repl. 2016).[2]

         Rose argues that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of harassment. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Castrellon v. State, 2013 Ark.App. 408, 428 S.W.3d 607. Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or conjecture. Armour v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 612, 509 S.W.3d 668. This court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and only evidence supporting the verdict will be considered. Reese v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 336, 552 S.W.3d 47. We do not weigh the evidence presented at trial nor do we weigh the credibility of the witnesses. Id. Decisions regarding the credibility of witnesses are for the trier of fact. Robinson v. State, 353 Ark. 372, 108 S.W.3d 622 (2003). The fact-finder is not required to believe any witness's testimony, especially the testimony of the accused, because the accused is the person most interested in the outcome of the trial. Mooney v. State, 2009 Ark.App. 622, 331 S.W.3d. 588. With these standards in mind, we turn our attention to the evidence presented at trial.

         In July 2016, Stephanie Merritt was a customer at Gary's Junior Food Mart in Osceola. She had just completed her purchase and was chatting with the store clerk, Aretha Adams, when Rose entered the store with another man. After a short exchange, Rose grabbed or touched Merritt's breast. Merritt hit Rose's hand with her key chain.[3] Using some profanity, Merritt told Rose, "You don't touch a woman's breast" and stated, "That's a good way to get shot." In response, Rose said, "How you gonna talk about shooting somebody that ain't even got no pistol?"; and he pulled a realistic-looking BB gun out of his waistband. Adams attempted to calm everyone down, and Rose eventually left the store at the urging of the other man who had come in with him. Merritt contacted the police to report the incident.

         On appeal, Rose does not argue that he did not touch Merritt's breast. Instead, he asserts that there was no evidence that he intended for his touching of Merritt to be offensive. In support of his argument, Rose cites his own testimony at trial wherein he stated that he meant no annoyance or harm to Merritt and suggested that she was not scared or offended. Moreover, while he acknowledges that Merritt hit him with her key chain, he contends that this was "not a violent or disorderly response" as is required by section 5-71-208(a)(4). He insists that his conduct toward Merritt was "simply . . . a playful and friendly manner" and was not intended to alarm or annoy her.

         Rose's argument thus focuses on his intent or purpose. This court has noted that a criminal defendant's intent or state of mind is seldom apparent. Wells v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 596, at 7-8, 424 S.W.3d 378, 384-85 (citing Tarentino v. State, 302 Ark. 55, 786 S.W.2d 584 (1990)). One's intent or purpose, being a state of mind, can seldom be positively known to others, so it ordinarily cannot be shown by direct evidence but may be inferred from the facts and circumstances. Id. Because intent cannot be proved by direct evidence, the fact-finder is allowed to draw on common knowledge and experience to infer it from the circumstances. Jones v. State, 2009 Ark.App. 135. Because of the difficulty in ascertaining a defendant's intent or state of mind, a presumption exists that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of his or her acts. Id.

         We find Rose's arguments unpersuasive. At trial, Merritt testified that Rose "grabbed" her breast and that she was "really upset" about it, enough so that she decided to press charges. Aretha Adams testified that although she did not see the contact, Merritt started cursing at Rose shortly after he had come into the store and saying he had touched her breast. Adams said that Merritt was "roused up" and that Adams had to calm her down. According to Osceola Police Department patrolman Matthew Richardson, who took Merritt's report, Merritt was "aggravated" and "upset" by the incident.

         The jury was entitled to draw its conclusions from the testimony and from the visual evidence on the videotape; it was not compelled to believe Rose's self-serving testimony that he meant no offense by touching Merritt's breast. See Mooney, supra. The jury plainly found Merritt's testimony credible and gave greater weight to it, which was entirely within its province to do. See Ortega v. State, 2016 Ark. 372, at 5, 501 S.W.3d 824, 827 (it is "the sole province of the jury to determine a witness's credibility, as well as the weight and value of his testimony."). As noted above, this court considers only the evidence that supports the verdict, and it does not reweigh the evidence. Mooney, supra. Based on the evidence presented, we cannot conclude that the circuit court erred in denying Rose's motion for directed verdict.

         II. Prio ...


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