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Lacefield v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Divisions III, IV

October 3, 2018

JOSEPH THOMAS LACEFIELD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 04CR-14-821, 04CR-14-1460, 04CR-15-69] HONORABLE ROBIN F. GREEN, JUDGE.

          David Hogue, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Valerie Glover Fortner, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          WAYMOND M. BROWN, JUDGE.

         A Benton County jury found appellant Joseph Thomas Lacefield guilty of two counts of robbery and one count of aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of thirty years' imprisonment. He argues on appeal that (1) the trial court erred by allowing gloves and testimony of the gloves into evidence, (2) the trial court erred by allowing two notes into evidence, and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm.[1]

         In case number 04CR-14-821, appellant was charged with the robbery of TownePlace Suites in Bentonville on or about May 15, 2014. According to Timothy Dye, he was at work at the hotel on May 15, 2014, when a man came in around 1:00 a.m. with a "big fake beard up to his nose a" blue rain jacket, blue jeans, and white shoes. He stated that the man handed him a Walmart sack and told him to place money into it. He testified that he asked the man whether he was for real and threatened to call the police. He stated that at that time, the man slid over the handicap portion of the desk and showed Dye a taser. Dye placed the money in the bag and the man slid back over the desk and slowly walked out. He testified that he initially told the police that the man was about 6'2" tall, but that he has a friend who is 6'4" tall and that the man appeared about that height. Dye stated that the man did not threaten him with the taser. He described the man as having "a really sharp nose with defined eyebrows and really dark-colored brown eyes." He said that he was presented with a photo lineup by the Bentonville Police Department and that when he looked at the photo of appellant, he "could see the same eyes, the same color of eyes and [he] was sure it was him."

         On cross-examination, Dye stated that he remembered speaking to Officer Chris Gravely and that he "supposed" he told Gravely that the suspect was "6'3 and had a slender build," but that "he wasn't skinny at the time." He admitted that before being presented with the photo lineup, he had already described the suspect as being "an older gentleman, in his 40's." He testified that the suspect pulled the taser out of his pocket with his left hand and that the suspect's right hand never touched the taser. He said that although he watched the suspect leave after the robbery, he did not see the suspect get into a truck.

         Officer Scott Fry with the Rogers Police Department stated that he was on duty on May 15, 2014. He stated that there was a BOLO sent out for a robbery suspect with "a fuzzy picture of a vehicle from a surveillance photo from an earlier robbery on Springdale."[2] He stated that the truck in the picture had extensive damage to the passenger's[3] side of the truck. He testified that he saw a green Chevy or GMC pickup at around 1:00 a.m. traveling east on Pleasant Grove over the interstate, which matched the BOLO. He stated that he did a U-turn and followed the vehicle to the Walmart off Pleasant Grove, where the vehicle pulled into a parking spot. He said that he stopped in the middle of the parking lot and radioed for assistance. He testified that he waited until the other officers showed up before he made contact with the driver, appellant. He said that appellant stepped out of his vehicle and was questioned. He stated that he did not search appellant's vehicle but that he "did kind of look inside the window and got appellant's information in case it turned out to be a lead or not." He said that he did not see a blue raincoat in appellant's truck but that he did see a blue coat. He testified that when he came in contact with appellant, appellant was using a cane and spoke of back or knee problems. He further stated that the "BOLO mentioned the suspect had jumped the counter of the business he had robbed and ran off, so it didn't add up enough for [him] to ask [appellant] for consent" to search the vehicle.

         On cross-examination, Officer Fry stated that the stop occurred at 1:04 a.m. on May 15, 2014. He testified that he did not recall seeing a fake beard, a blue raincoat, or a taser in appellant's truck at that time. On redirect examination, Officer Fry testified that he did not open the door of the truck and physically enter it, but that he just shined his light through the window to look inside. He stated that he was about twenty yards from appellant's vehicle during the five minutes he waited for the other officers to arrive. He said that appellant did not get out of the vehicle while the other officers were en route. He stated that appellant should have been aware of him because he was in a marked police car sitting twenty yards away from appellant.

         In case number 04CR-14-1460, appellant was charged with the robbery of Dollar General in Rogers, on or about May 8, 2014.[4] According to Oscar Linares, a man walked into Dollar General with a "camo hoody pulled over his head, jeans and a fake beard." He stated that he really did not take notice of what the man was wearing because it was raining outside. He said that he greeted the man and that the man asked for two packs of Marlboro Red Special Blend cigarettes. He asked the man for identification, and the man asked him for a sack. He stated that the man went and "grabbed some tasty cakes and brought them back to the register and slipped [Linares] a note saying don't say anything, just give me the money." Linares said that he placed the money from the register into the bag the man gave him. He stated that the man told him not to come outside and then left. He testified that based on the tape by the door of the store, the suspect was about 6'2" tall. He stated that the man was holding a small taser during the robbery and that he did not feel like getting tased so he did what was asked of him. He said that he could not see the suspect's mouth but that he could remember the fake beard and the suspect's eyes.

         On cross-examination, Linares stated that he worked at Dollar General for about six months and that Marlboro Red cigarettes were a popular brand of cigarettes. He said that the suspect removed the taser from his left pocket and held it in his left hand.

         In case number 04CR-15-69, appellant was charged with the aggravated robbery of Pizza Hut in Rogers on or about November 17, 2013. According to Samantha Inglis, on the night of November 17, 2013, an armed man walked into the store and told her to give him all of the money the store had. She stated that she placed the money into a "clear portion bag" and laid on the floor as she was instructed. She said that the man was using a small caliber semiautomatic handgun. She stated that she could not recall if the man was wearing gloves because she was focusing on the gun and trying to remain calm. She testified that after the man left, she got up, locked the door, and called the police. She stated that when she was shown a photo of appellant, his eyes made her "freeze" and "cry", reminding her of the fear she felt that night.

         On cross-examination, Inglis stated that she did not see the suspect get into a vehicle when he left. She said that she described the suspect to the police as being approximately 6'1" tall and weighing 170 pounds. She testified that the suspect had a "reddish beard and a cap pulled down on his chin" and was wearing "a hunting jacket, not a rain coat." She again said that she did not remember seeing gloves.

         On redirect examination, Inglis testified that she was able to identify a ski mask worn by the suspect the day after the robbery. She stated that the suspect wore an olive-green ski mask that covered his face; however, she said that his eyes and mouth were visible.

         Bobby Ryan, a locksmith and safe technician for Our Keys, testified that the business is located close to the Pizza Hut that was robbed. He stated that he learned in November 2013 that the Pizza Hut had been robbed and that the next day while taking out the trash, he "saw some material and gloves and scarf in the dumpster and called the detective." When asked, again, what did he recall seeing in the dumpster, the defense objected, stating in pertinent part:

Mr. Hogue: Judge, he - he just testified to seeing the gloves and I - and-other items located there. I'm going to object to lack of foundation of any more testimony regarding the gloves.
The victim was on the stand. She did not provide any testimony or evidence that there were any gloves ever used in the commission of the crime. I think the testimony regarding the gloves is also - any probative value it's going to have is far outweighed by any prejudicial effect, and I don't think we've, one, laid a foundation for the gloves being used in the commission of the crime. I don't think he can testify to it at this point.
The Court: Overruled.
Mr. Cearley: Thank you.

         Ryan stated that he did not touch any of the items in the dumpster but closed the lid and locked it back up. He testified that he was the only one who had access to the dumpster and that it was kept locked. However, he stated that it could still be raised three to six inches while locked. He said that he was last at the dumpster one to three days before finding the items and that he did not put them there.

         Detective Nick Torkelson of the Rogers Police Department testified that he worked the Pizza Hut aggravated robbery in November 2013. He stated that there were not any surveillance videos located at Pizza Hut. He testified that the day after the robbery, he was dispatched back to the scene after Ryan called the police. He said that he talked to Ryan and then located the items in the dumpster. He stated that the mask and a pair of gloves that were found looked as if they had been "crumpled up together and thrown in the dumpster." He then identified both the mask and the gloves found in the dumpster. When the State attempted to admit the gloves into evidence, the defense objected.

Mr. Hogue: There has not been a foundation laid tying the gloves to the scene of the crime.
The Court: Objection is overruled. State's Exhibit #8 is admitted.

         Detective Torkelson stated that after he collected the items from the dumpster, he logged them into the evidence room and subsequently took them to the crime lab.

         On cross-examination, Det. Torkelson stated that none of the fingerprints recovered from Pizza Hut matched appellant's. He said that he interviewed numerous people and that there were a number of people who were considered persons of interest.

         On redirect examination, Det. Torkelson testified that he was able to eliminate McKenzie Moran as a suspect after interviewing Moran and running his DNA. He stated that the only identifiable fingerprint found in Pizza Hut was from Daniel Keenan, an employee.

         On recross-examination, Det. Torkelson stated that based on the description given by Inglis, they were looking for a suspect who was 6'1" tall and weighed approximately 170 pounds.

         Detective Torkelson was recalled to the stand later during the trial and testified that Moran is 5'11" tall and 240 pounds. He testified on cross that appellant was 6'4" tall and weighed 245 pounds at the time of his arrest.

         In addition to the above testimony, other pertinent evidence was heard by the jury during appellant's trial. Tyler Leis testified that he worked at a different Dollar General in Rogers in May 2014. He stated that on May 1, 2014, "a weird man wearing a fake beard walked in." He also said that the man was wearing a "big heavy coat with his hood on" on a warm day. He described the man as being about 6'2" tall. He testified that the man attempted to purchase cigarettes but that he could not sell them to him because the man did not have his identification with him. He stated that after appellant was arrested, he went online and looked at appellant's picture and that "his eyes specifically stood out." He testified that he did not notify the police but that they "showed up at [his] door and [he] talked to them about it." There was video surveillance at Dollar General, and it was admitted without objection.

         Larry Roberts testified that he rented a house to appellant in the summer of 2013. He stated that appellant did not have a job when he rented the house but told Roberts that he had some interviews lined up. He testified that appellant paid three months' rent in June when he signed the lease. He stated that appellant was three days late with his rent payment in October; paid significantly late in November; paid on time December through March; paid late in April; and paid a couple of weeks late in May. He said that appellant promised "to have some money soon in early May" and that appellant paid $650 on May 15, 2014.

         On cross-examination, Roberts stated that he mainly dealt with appellant on the phone and only saw him occasionally after June 2013. However, he said that he saw appellant in April 2014 and that he was "heavier" than he appeared in court.

         Sherry Nickerson testified that she worked at Any Y Liquors in Springdale and was working on May 9, 2014. She stated that on May 9, "someone walked in wearing what looked [like] a carpet beard over his whole entire face." She said that the person came in and "watched" them for a while. She stated that the man was tall enough to see over the aisle, which she found intimidating. She testified that she called the police after the man left because she "had read something on [her] phone about a man wearing a beard robbing a store in Rogers and [she] thought the description matched the man that had been in the store." She identified a photo taken of the man while he was in the store.

         On cross-examination, Nickerson stated that her manager gave the police a bottle of ...


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