FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA
DISTRICT [NO. 47BCR-16-94] HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE.
Akram was convicted by a Mississippi County Circuit Court
jury of first-degree murder. He was sentenced as a habitual
offender to sixty years' imprisonment in the Arkansas
Department of Correction. On appeal, he claims that (1) the
circuit court erred by denying his motion to suppress his
statement, (2) the State improperly commented on his failure
to deny his guilt, and (3) there was insufficient evidence to
support his first-degree-murder conviction. We affirm.
motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Steele v. State, 2014
Ark.App. 257, 434 S.W.3d 424. Although this is Akram's
final point on appeal, double-jeopardy considerations require
this court to consider a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence before the other issues on appeal. See Jones v.
State, 340 Ark. 331, 78 S.W.3d 104 (2002).
the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal from
a criminal conviction, we consider only that proof that
supports the conviction. Singleton-Harris v. State,
2014 Ark.App. 436, 439 S.W.3d 720. We view that evidence and
all reasonable inferences deducible therefrom in the light
most favorable to the State. Davis v. State, 2011
Ark.App. 261, 378 S.W.3d 873. We will affirm if the finding
of guilt is supported by substantial evidence. Id.
Evidence is substantial if it is of sufficient force and
character to compel reasonable minds to reach a conclusion
and pass beyond suspicion and conjecture. Clayton v.
State, 2011 Ark.App. 692. The jury is free to believe
all or part of a witness's testimony, and we do not weigh
the credibility of witnesses on appeal because that is a job
for the fact-finder and not the appellate court. Sizemore
v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 295, 462 S.W.3d 364.
order to preserve a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence, a defendant must make a motion for directed verdict
at the close of the State's case and at the close of all
the evidence and must state the specific grounds for the
motion. Ark. R. Crim. P. 33.1(a) (2017). It is well settled
that Rule 33.1 is strictly construed, and a defendant's
failure to adhere to the requirements of Rule 33.1(a) will
constitute a waiver of any question pertaining to the
sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict. Ark. R.
Crim. P. 33.1(c). A general motion for directed verdict that
merely asserts that the State has failed to prove its case is
inadequate to preserve a sufficiency challenge for appeal.
Jordan v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 255, at 7, 492 S.W.3d
543, 548. Failure to make the motion for directed verdict
with specificity regarding the sufficiency issue on appeal
equates to the motion never having been made. E.g.,
did not comply with the requirements of Rule 33.1; therefore,
his sufficiency argument is not preserved for this
court's review. At the close of the State's evidence,
Akram moved for a directed verdict because the State's
evidence was "not sufficient as a matter of the law to
sustain a conviction." At the close of all the evidence,
Akram stated that he was "asking for a direct[ed]
verdict" because the State "hadn't proven the
burden of guilt." These are general motions for directed
verdict, and they do not specify any missing elements.
Accordingly, they are insufficient to preserve the issue for
appeal. See, e.g., id.
turn to Akram's argument that the circuit court erred by
denying his motion to suppress. Before trial, the circuit
court held a hearing on the motion to suppress Akram's
custodial statement. Detective Matt Huckabay of the
Blytheville Police Department testified that on March 18,
2016, Linda Hatcher, Akram's live-in girlfriend, was
found beaten to death. Akram was the only other person in the
house, and he was taken into custody around midnight.
Detective Huckabay testified that he did not interview Akram
the night of the murder because an officer had told him that
Akram was intoxicated. The following afternoon at 2:35 p.m.,
Detective Huckabay interviewed Akram. The audio recording of
the interview was introduced into evidence at the suppression
beginning of the interview, Detective Huckabay handed Akram a
copy of his Miranda rights and read the rights
aloud. Akram acknowledged that he understood his rights and
completed the Miranda form by providing his date of
birth, address, and signature. Detective Huckabay then asked
Akram a series of background questions that Akram was able to
explained that he spent most of the day on March 18, 2016,
with Pauline Richardson, his other girlfriend. Akram drank
gin and smoked marijuana throughout the day. Akram claimed he
did not remember what time he got home or what happened to
Linda. He stated that he did not "remember doing that to
[Linda]" and that he could not remember what had
happened or why there was blood all over the house. Akram did
not affirmatively deny that he had murdered Linda.
Huckabay testified that Akram was upset and crying during the
interview but that he did not appear to be intoxicated.
Detective Huckabay also stated that Akram did not smell of
alcohol at the time of the interview. After Detective
Huckabay's testimony, the State introduced certified
copies of two of Akram's previous convictions-one for
robbery and one for manslaughter-to show his familiarity with
the criminal-justice system. Akram argued that he was
intoxicated the night before the interview and that Detective
Huckabay did not know whether Akram was still intoxicated at
the time of the interview.
also alleged that he did not have his reading glasses and was
unable to read the Miranda-rights forms. The circuit
court found that Detective Huckabay read verbatim the
Miranda-rights and waiver form to Akram and that
Akram voluntarily waived those rights. The circuit court
stated that on the tape of the interview Akram sounded
"coherent" and "articulate" and
"[d]id not slur his words" and "[d]id not
appear to be intoxicated." Based on these findings, the