FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66FCR-16-65] HONORABLE J. MICHAEL FITZHUGH, JUDGE
L. Dunagin, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
M. GLOVER, JUDGE
Bryan Porras was convicted by a Sebastian County Circuit
Court jury of one count of murder in the first degree and
seven counts of committing a terroristic act. He was
sentenced to a total of seventy-three years in the Arkansas
Department of Correction (ADC), with his sentences being
enhanced for using a firearm in the commission of the crimes
and for being a habitual offender. Porras makes two arguments
on appeal-(1) the State failed to present sufficient evidence
to support the convictions, and (2) the circuit court denied
him the right to confront witnesses against him when it ruled
defense counsel had opened the door to a line of questioning.
charges arose from a gang-related shooting in Fort Smith,
Arkansas, on January 14, 2017. Porras and his
codefendants-Alberto Chavez, Ryan Oxford, and Jorge
Chirinos-were members of a gang known as Slangez 96. The
victim, Justin Lopez, was a member of a rival gang, Clout
Boyz. Lopez and another Clout Boyz member, Trey Miller, were
shot by assault rifles while in a camper trailer; Lopez was
killed when a bullet entered the back of his skull and
Jorge Chirinos testified against Porras at trial. His
testimony placed Porras at the scene of the crimes, and he
identified Porras as one of the shooters. However,
Chirinos's testimony at trial differed from previous
statements he had given, and it was contrary to some
testimony from other witnesses. At the close of the
State's evidence, defense counsel moved for a directed
verdict, which was denied; this motion was renewed at the
close of all the evidence and was denied again.
first argues the State failed to present sufficient evidence
to support his convictions. A motion for directed verdict is
a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Vaughan
v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 439, 555 S.W.3d 922. The test
for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether
the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, either
direct or circumstantial; 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.
Bullock v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 118, 544 S.W.3d 566.
On appeal, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable
to the State, and only that evidence supporting the verdict
is considered. Id. Weighing the evidence,
reconciling conflicts in testimony, and assessing credibility
are matters exclusively for the finder of fact; a jury may
accept or reject any part of a witness's testimony, and
its conclusion regarding credibility is binding on the
appellate court. Vaughan, supra.
argues there was no corroboration of Chirinos's
testimony, who had also been criminally charged for the same
incident, and there must be evidence independent of an
accomplice's testimony to show the crime occurred and
tend to connect the accused to the crime. Porras contends
Chirinos admitted he had lied in previous statements he gave
to police, his testimony at trial was different from his
previous statements and contradicted the testimony of other
witnesses, and Chirinos had a reason to lie about his
involvement in the shooting.
is correct. Arkansas law provides that a conviction cannot be
had in any case of felony on the testimony of an accomplice
unless it is corroborated by other evidence tending to
connect the defendant with the commission of the offense.
Bullock, supra. However, to make these
challenges on appeal, an appellant must strictly comply with
Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 33.1 (2017), which
requires a defendant to make specific challenges to the
State's proof. Porras's directed verdict was as
There has been no credible evidence presented that shows that
my client was at the scene of the crime, other than Mr.
Chirinos who we know has lied at least 2 different occasions
prior to coming in here to testify today. I think it is
believable that he lied again today when he said that he was
under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You saw the videos
where there was a lot of drug use going on. I don't
believe his testimony is truthful or believable. I don't
think it even rises to the level of a fact question for the
jury. What we have got here is primarily speculation as to my
client's involvement and that is not sufficient to
justify this case going to the jury trial, Your Honor, it is
just not there. I am going to ask the Court to grant my
motion for a directed verdict.
appellant is bound by the scope and nature of the arguments
made at trial. Bullock, supra. An appellate
court will not address an argument made for the first time on
appeal; a defendant cannot change the grounds for an
objection or motion on appeal but is bound by the scope and
nature of the arguments made at trial. Davis v.
State, 2018 Ark.App. 450, __S.W.3d__. Porras never made
a corroboration argument to the circuit court; therefore,
that argument is not preserved for our review. To the extent
Porras made the argument in his directed-verdict motion that
Chirinos's testimony lacked credibility, this argument is
of no moment, as witness credibility is a matter for the
finder of fact, and a jury's determination regarding
credibility is binding on the appellate courts.
second argument on appeal is the circuit court denied him his
right to confront witnesses against him during the testimony
of Detective Anthony Parkinson, who investigated Lopez's
murder. When Parkinson testified, the following colloquy
Defense Counsel: Officer, as part of the investigation did
you direct other officers to go out and do things?
Defense Counsel: Did you direct that Officer Scamardo go take
soil samples at the scene of the crime?
Defense Counsel: Scarbrough?
Defense Counsel: Yes.
Defense Counsel: Okay. That was done and did you direct that
Bryan Porras' car be, I don't want to say tossed, ...