FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-17-285] HONORABLE BARRY A. SIMS, JUDGE
William R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller,
Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge.
Jason Michael Hoyle appeals after he was convicted by a
Pulaski County Circuit Court jury of rape. He was sentenced
as a habitual offender to serve 720 months' imprisonment.
On appeal, appellant does not contest the sufficiency of the
evidence. Rather, appellant's sole argument is that the
trial court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony
of two rebuttal witnesses for the defense. We affirm.
was arrested and charged by felony information with rape in
violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103(a)(1)
(Repl. 2016). The State further alleged that appellant's
sentence should be increased as provided in Arkansas Code
Annotated section 5-4-501(b) because he had been previously
convicted of four or more felonies. On February 1, 2017, the
State filed its discovery motion specifically requesting that
the defense provide the names and addresses of any person the
defense intended to call as a witness at trial. A jury trial
was held on September 26-27, 2017.
pretrial hearing on the first day of trial, the State
informed the trial court that the defense had provided it
with the names of two witnesses the day before trial. The
trial court ruled that their testimony would be excluded in
appellant's case-in-chief because providing names on the
eve of trial was insufficient and that the State did not have
an adequate amount of time to talk with the witnesses. The
defense did not object or offer any reason for why it had
failed to provide the names earlier.
Ball testified at trial that while she was waiting at her
children's bus stop on December 8, 2016, appellant, whom
she had not met before, approached her and told her that he
had some children's toys that he wanted to give away to
someone who had kids. Appellant told her that he would leave
them on his front porch if she wanted to pick them up while
he was gone. Later that day, Ball went to appellant's
home with her children at the time he told her that he would
be away. However, she found that appellant was at his home
and that the front door had been left open. Her children saw
the toys on the porch and in the living room and ran to play
with them. Ball explained that she went into appellant's
home and that he showed her around his trailer. Ball
testified that when she heard her son crying and attempted to
leave to attend to him, appellant grabbed her, pushed her
onto his bed, and raped her. She testified that she did not
scream because she did not want her children to come into his
bedroom. After she returned to her home with her children,
Ball called her sister-in-law, who told her to call the
police. Ball testified that she was taken to the hospital and
that the hospital prepared a rape kit.
Leasha Rice testified that she responded to Ball's call
to the police. When she arrived, Ball was crying and shaking.
Ball gave Rice a description of appellant and the exact
location of his residence. Employees from the Arkansas State
Crime Laboratory confirmed that the semen found on a vaginal
swab and various pieces of Ball's clothing was consistent
with appellant's DNA.
Mitchell Zimmerman testified that he went to appellant's
home and subsequently arrested him. At that time, appellant
admitted that Ball had been to his home and stated that Ball
had wanted him to "shower with her." Officer
Zimmerman further testified that appellant later told him
that the only thing Ball and appellant did was kiss and
"rub up on each other" on the bed.
morning of the second day at trial and outside the presence
of the jury, defense counsel announced that he wished to call
Meagan Conners and Jimmy Sandefur strictly as rebuttal
witnesses. Defense counsel argued that rebuttal
witnesses were not required to be disclosed ahead of time and
that he would restrict his questions to rebuttal information
only. The State objected and argued that the defense was
calling the witnesses for impeachment purposes-not as true
rebuttal witnesses. Defense counsel responded that the
testimony was "impeaching rebuttal" that he would
not have needed to produce until after Ball testified. The
trial court commented that it seemed as though the defense
was "trying to find a backdoor way to get witnesses that
[it] didn't disclose to the State." The trial court
initially took the matter under advisement but later denied
the request. In doing so, the trial court explained that if
it had used the defense's theory to define a rebuttal
witness, every defense witness would be considered a rebuttal
witness, and "that's not true rebuttal."
defense counsel proffered the testimony of Jimmy Sandefur and
Meagan Conners to preserve the issue for appeal. Sandefur
testified that he had seen Ball leave appellant's trailer
on the day of the incident. According to him, she appeared to
be walking normally and did not seem to be upset. Conners
testified that Ball had personally visited her the evening of
the incident. At that time, Ball admitted to her that she had
sex with appellant earlier that day. Conners additionally
testified that Ball did not appear to be distraught or upset.
the State rested and the trial court denied appellant's
motion for directed verdict, appellant did not provide any
witness testimony on his behalf. The jury found appellant
guilty, and appellant was sentenced to serve 720 months'
imprisonment as a habitual offender. This appeal followed.
appeal, appellant argues that the trial court abused its
discretion in excluding the testimony of two rebuttal
witnesses for the defense. Matters pertaining to the
admissibility of evidence are left to the sound discretion of
the trial court. McEwing v. State, 366 Ark. 456, 237
S.W.3d 43 (2006). We will not reverse such a ruling absent an
abuse of ...