DAVID A. VINES APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-17-144]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Hudson Law Firm, PLLC, by: Grace Casteel, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rachel Kemp, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE.
Vines appeals his conviction by a Faulkner County Circuit
Court jury of one count of second-degree domestic battery.
David challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing
that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for
directed verdict. We affirm.
November 22, 2016, Becky Vines was driving, and her husband,
appellant David Vines, was riding in the passenger seat. The
two were arguing. Becky testified at trial that David became
angry, pulled the keys out of the ignition, and grabbed
Becky's phone. When Becky stopped the car, David got out.
Becky testified that she also got out of the car to try to
retrieve her phone and keys from David. David then walked
around the car and got into the driver's seat. Becky
testified that she thought David was trying to steal her car,
so she got into the passenger seat. Becky testified that
David then started the ignition, slammed his foot down on the
gas, and said, "Now, I'm going to kill us
both." Becky testified that she begged David to stop the
car, but he placed his right hand on top of the steering
wheel and turned the wheel sharply to the right. He kept his
foot on the gas and did not apply the brakes. The car left
the road, hit several mailboxes and a culvert, rolled, and
stopped near the tree line. Becky testified that as a result
of the crash, she was severely injured-her left heel was
crushed, her right shin bone was shattered, and her fifth
lumbar vertebra was broken. She testified that she had
endured several surgeries, had required twenty-four-hour
care, had limited mobility, and was unable to work. Becky
also testified that when the car came to a stop, David got
out, walked around, and then came back to the car and said,
and Michael Burns both testified that they witnessed the
crash. The Burnses had been driving in separate cars behind
Becky's car. Kimberly testified that she saw the man and
woman switch places, with the man getting into the
driver's seat. She testified that the car then sped off,
causing the tires to squeal, veered off the road to the
right, and hit the culvert. Kimberly testified that she never
saw the car's brake lights come on. Michael testified
that the car did not drift; it darted abruptly to the right.
Boyd and Dennis Robertson, the first two police officers at
the scene, testified that Becky's car was "pretty
far" off the roadway and that when they arrived David
was leaning into the passenger seat and appeared to be
talking to the passenger. Both officers stated that although
they observed the path the car had traveled off the road,
there were no brake or skid marks or any other signs
indicating any attempt to correct the car's path. Officer
Boyd acknowledged that when a car slowly drifts off the road
due to the driver's distraction, sometimes brake marks
are not present.
counsel moved for a directed verdict at the close of the
State's case, arguing that the State had failed to prove
that David acted with the intent to cause serious physical
injury. The court denied the motion. The defense rested and
renewed its motion, which the court again denied. The jury
convicted David of one count of domestic battery in the
second degree,  and this appeal follows.
court reviews a motion for a directed verdict as a challenge
to the sufficiency of the evidence, and we will affirm the
circuit court's denial of a motion for directed verdict
if there is substantial evidence, either direct or
circumstantial, to support the jury's verdict. See
Flowers v. State, 373 Ark. 127, 282 S.W.3d 767 (2008).
Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a
conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion or
conjecture. Id. In reviewing the sufficiency of the
evidence, we view the evidence and all reasonable inferences
deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to the State
without weighing it against conflicting evidence that may be
favorable to the appellant, and we affirm the verdict if it
is supported by substantial evidence. Id.
only argument on appeal is that the court erred in denying
his motion for a directed verdict because there was
insufficient evidence that he acted with the purpose to cause
physical injury. A person commits the offense of domestic
battering in the second degree if "with the purpose of
causing physical injury to a family or household member, the
person causes serious physical injury to a family or
household member." Ark. Code Ann. § 5-26-304(a)(1)
(Repl. 2013). Here, Becky testified that David stated,
"Now, I'm going to kill us both," before
intentionally yanking the steering wheel to the right and
driving the car off the road. This testimony was bolstered by
the Burnses' eyewitness accounts that immediately after
the couple changed seats in the car, the car sped off and
darted abruptly off the road. The officers at the scene also
observed no indications that David had attempted to brake or
avoid the accident.
argues that Becky's testimony was not credible because
she had previously been convicted of filing a false
credit-card application. David also argues that the
officers' testimony that sometimes a person may
distractedly or inadvertently drive off the road without
braking or leaving skid marks indicates that the wreck may
not have been purposeful. Neither of these arguments has
merit. The jury heard testimony about Becky's previous
conviction and was free to consider it when determining how
much weight to give Becky's account of the accident. The
Arkansas Supreme Court has previously held that variances and
discrepancies in the proof go to the weight or credibility of
the evidence, and such matters are for the fact-finder to
resolve. Marts v. State, 332 Ark. 628, 644, 968
S.W.2d 41, 49 (1998). The trier of fact is free to believe
all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve
any conflicts and inconsistencies; such matters are not for
the court to resolve on a directed-verdict motion.
Id. at 644, 968 S.W.2d at 49; see also State v.
Long, 311 Ark. 248, 251, 844 S.W.2d 302, 304 (1992)
(stating that "when a trial court exceeds its duty to
determine the sufficiency of the evidence by judging the
credibility of the evidence, it commits an error that
requires correction"). Here, the court properly denied
David's directed-verdict motion and allowed the jury to
give each witness's testimony the weight and credibility
it deemed appropriate.