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Moore v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

October 31, 2018

JAMES MOORE, JR. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE LAFAYETTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 37CR-18-5] HONORABLE KIRK JOHNSON, JUDGE.

          Joseph C. Self, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          RITA W. GRUBER, Chief Judge

         On January 10, 2018, appellant James Moore, Jr., was charged in the Lafayette County Circuit Court with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, class Y and D felonies respectively. Appellant filed a motion to transfer his case to the juvenile division of circuit court on the basis that he was seventeen years old at the time of the alleged offenses. The circuit court denied the motion, and a timely notice of appeal followed. Appellant argues that the circuit court's denial of his motion to transfer is clearly erroneous. We disagree and affirm.

         The factual issues, as appellant points out in his brief, are not in dispute. On December 20, 2017, appellant went to the home of the victim, Annie Mae Briggs, intending to get money from her in a robbery. At the hearing on April 26, 2018, Jeff Black, chief of police in Stamps, testified that he investigated the incident. He stated that Ms. Briggs is a seventy-four-year-old woman who is severely diabetic, an amputee, and in a wheelchair. She sells snacks, candy, and drinks out of her home and has done so for the past forty to fifty years. Ms. Briggs wears a money bag tied around her waist because she is in a wheelchair. She told Chief Black that some juveniles came to her home that evening, and one purchased chips. All the juveniles left except appellant, who stayed in the house and asked Ms. Briggs if she had change. Appellant then grabbed the money bag to try to rip it loose, and when it did not come loose, he began to cut the bag off with a knife.[1] As a result, Ms. Briggs's hand was cut, requiring stitches from "the tip of her [pinky] finger back down to nearly her wrist."

         Chief Black testified that appellant was cooperative when he and his father came to Chief Black's office after being contacted. Appellant was informed of his Miranda rights, and he signed the rights form along with his father. Appellant admitted having been at the residence and taking $41 from the victim, but he denied any cutting. When asked if there was any indication from appellant's statement that it was a planned event, Chief Black testified as follows:

I took that it was a plan because [appellant] mentioned that he was not happy being there in Stamps. He had been sent up there from, I believe, the Dallas area, possibly by his mom. I'm not real sure about that. But [appellant] was wanting to get enough money to get a bus ride and go back to the Dallas area.

         Chief Black was not aware of anything on appellant's record.

         Appellant's mother, Cynthia Moore, testified that appellant had been living in Stamps for six months to a year at the time of the incident. She stated that there was no particular reason she sent appellant to live with his father. She stated that appellant had not been in any criminal trouble and only had "regular trouble" at school, such as "detention or things of that nature." There had been no suspensions or expulsions. When asked if she knew why appellant wanted to be back in Dallas, Moore guessed he missed his family as most of his family is in Dallas.

         Following the hearing, the circuit court entered a May 3, 2018 order denying the motion to transfer.

         In juvenile-transfer proceedings, the court shall order the case transferred to another division of circuit court only upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the case should be transferred. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-318(h)(2) (Repl. 2015). The movant bears the burden of proving the necessity of transfer from the criminal to the juvenile division of circuit court. Sharp v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 255, at 8, 548 S.W.3d 846, 851. Clear and convincing evidence is proof that will produce in the trier of fact a firm conviction as to the allegation sought to be established. Id.

         Pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-318(g), the circuit court must consider the following ten factors at the transfer hearing:

(1) The seriousness of the alleged offense and whether the protection of society requires prosecution in the criminal ...

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