FROM THE FAULKNER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 23CR-16-163]
HONORABLE CHARLES E. CLAWSON, JR., JUDGE
Law Firm, P.L.L.C., by: Scott A. Scholl, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE.
Jason Douglas Hensley was convicted in a jury trial of
kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault, and aggravated
residential burglary. The victim was appellant's
estranged wife, Melissa Hensley. For these offenses, Mr.
Hensley was sentenced to thirty years in prison.
Hensley now appeals, raising two arguments for reversal.
First, he argues that the trial court abused its discretion
in allowing the hearsay testimony of Officer Melissa Smith
regarding statements made to her by Mrs. Hensley at the
hospital after the attack. Next, he argues that the trial
court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict on the
aggravated residential-burglary charge. We affirm.
appeal, we treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge
to the sufficiency of the evidence. Harris v. State,
2014 Ark.App. 264. When an appellant challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, we address the
sufficiency argument prior to a review of any alleged trial
errors. Kennedy v. State, 49 Ark.App. 20, 894 S.W.2d
952 (1995). In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence, we determine whether the verdict was supported
by substantial evidence, either direct or circumstantial.
Armour v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 612, 509 S.W.3d 668.
We review the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State, considering only the evidence that supports the
Hensley and Mrs. Hensley were a married couple going through
a divorce. They had separated in November 2015. Before the
separation, the parties had arranged to move with their
children into a rental house in Conway. Mrs. Hensley and the
children subsequently moved into that house, but Mr. Hensley
never lived there because of the parties' separation. Mr.
Hensley had instead moved into a friend's house in
Benton. According to Mrs. Hensley, Mr. Hensley did not have a
key to her house, and she had unsuccessfully tried to take
his name off the lease. In addition, as a result of charges
unrelated to this case, there was a no-contact order entered
in November 2015 prohibiting Mr. Hensley from having any
contact with one of Mrs. Hensley's children or any of the
child's immediate family.
morning of February 22, 2016, Mrs. Hensley was home in her
bed and her children were at school. The police received an
emergency call about a disturbance at the house. Officer
Matthew Hugen was one of the officers who arrived to
Officer Hugen arrived at the house, Mrs. Hensley was standing
outside. Officer Hugen testified that Mrs. Hensley had blood
on her clothing and was wearing a handcuff on one of her
ankles. She was upset and her voice was fast, shaky, and
trembling. According to Officer Hugen, the first thing Mrs.
Hensley said to him was that Mr. Hensley had come into the
house and tried to attack her with a knife and that she tried
to defend herself with a coffee mug. 
police entered the house and found Mr. Hensley in Mrs.
Hensley's bedroom lying unconscious on her bed with his
pants down around his ankles. There were deep cuts on both of
Mr. Hensley's wrists, and the sheets were covered in
blood. Upon inspecting the bedroom, the police found a knife,
a box cutter, and a still-lubricated condom that appeared to
have been recently removed from a torn wrapper. The police
also found broken pieces of two coffee mugs. In Mrs.
Hensley's kitchen was a knife block with one knife
missing. Mr. Hensley had driven his roommate's vehicle
and parked a block away before entering the house.
Melissa Smith testified that she made contact with Mrs.
Hensley after Mrs. Hensley had been transported by ambulance
to the hospital. Officer Smith described Mrs. Hensley as very
upset, emotional, and sobbing. Mrs. Hensley had blood on her
clothes, hands, arms, and hair, as well as a bruised and
swollen cheekbone. As part of her duties, Officer Smith
interviewed Mrs. Hensley at the hospital. Mr. Hensley
objected to Officer Smith testifying about what Mrs. Hensley
had told her in the interview, arguing that this was
inadmissible hearsay. The trial court overruled the
objection, ruling that her testimony was admissible under the
excited-utterance exception to the hearsay rule. Officer
I did not know this woman [Mrs. Hensley], so I was trying to
get the entire story from her. She told me that she and her
husband were separated and were in the process of divorce.
She said that they had been separated for a year, and that
they really hadn't spoken a whole lot since then but
suddenly he started sending her a bunch of text messages,
repeating things like he loved her and could not live without
her. She said she didn't really respond to him, but the
night before the incident he sent her a message saying that
he really needed to talk to her, that it was important and
that it affected him and the children.
She said she thought that was a very odd statement, so she
saved that message but did not reply to it. So she got up
that morning, took all the kids and . . . .
She told me that she had been talking on the phone. As soon
as she hung up, her husband was at her bedroom door. She had
not heard him come in. He was just suddenly there, and he was
holding a knife up above his shoulder and he screamed what
she described as wildly at her and ran at her and started
trying to stab her with the knife.
She said they got in a struggle and she was able to knock the
knife away from him, and so he put his hands around her
throat and started trying to strangle her. She said she could
not breathe at this point and felt like she was going to pass
out. She said she was reaching around for anything that she
could find to defend herself and she found a coffee mug and
smashed it on his head, and that distracted him long enough
for her to try and get away.
He caught her before she got out of the bedroom and slammed
her against the wall, then he pulled a box knife from his
pocket and slit his wrists.
She said they kept struggling and she tried to dart into the
bathroom to get away and he followed her in and ended up
getting her into the bathtub. Whenever she tried to get away
from him, he would smash her head into the bathtub.
The whole time she was telling me this, she is going from
being able to talk to almost reliving it and starting to
bawl. So, we would have to try and calm her down so she could
talk again and explain it and then she would just get into
the moment again and start crying. But she was able to relay
it to us over time.
She said that he was bleeding really badly because he had
slit his wrists and also because of the damage she caused by
smashing the coffee mug on his head. At one point she thought
"I'll just kind of trick him and say, oh, it's
okay, it's okay." Then she started blotting his head
with a towel trying to calm him down. After she thought that
she had distracted him long enough she tried to run again,
but he charged her again and tackled her on the bed.
She said that he had a set of leg shackles. She didn't
know where they came from, but he shackled her right leg to
her right wrist and he had her on the bed. . . .
He then pulled her pants down. He has her shackled on her
wrists and ankle. Pulled her pants down and stuck two fingers
into her ...