KENNY LEMONT DANNER, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CR-16-573]
HONORABLE JOHN HOMER WRIGHT, JUDGE
& Co., PLLC, by: Tim J. Cullen, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Garland County Circuit Court jury found Kenny Lemont Danner
guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mark Turner.
Danner appeals his conviction and argues that the evidence
was circumstantial and was therefore not sufficient for a
finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Because
substantial evidence supports a conviction, we affirm.
reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State
and consider only the evidence that supports the verdict.
Cluck v. State, 365 Ark. 166, 226 S.W.3d 780 (2006).
We will affirm a conviction if substantial evidence exists to
support it. Id. Substantial evidence is that which
is of sufficient force and character that it will, with
reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the
other, without resorting to speculation or conjecture.
Id. When a theory of accomplice liability is
implicated, we affirm a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge
if substantial evidence exists that the defendant acted as an
accomplice in the commission of the alleged offense. Cook
v. State, 350 Ark. 398, 86 S.W.3d 916 (2002).
the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, as we
must do, the following evidence substantially supports
Danner's conviction. On May 29, 2016, Mark Turner failed
to show up for work. He was later found dead in his
apartment. Law enforcement was notified.
enforcement responded to Turner's apartment to
investigate his death. Turner's fatal injuries appeared
to have been inflicted by the use of three different weapons:
possibly a hammer, a knife, and a phillips-head screwdriver.
He had suffered multiple blunt-force and sharp-force
injuries. The apartment was processed for evidence,
and certain items were collected, including blood samples and
a piece of carpet containing a bloody shoe print.
police eventually focused on Danner as a suspect in
Turner's murder. The investigation into Turner's
death revealed that Danner, his brother Korean, James
Marshall, and Alvin Smith had gathered at Turner's
apartment in the early morning hours of May 28, 2016. Turner,
Danner, Korean, and Smith began drinking, smoking marijuana,
and shooting dice, while Marshall sat on the couch watching
videos and texting on his phone. Turner had a backpack with
an extra set of clothes, some marijuana, and a gun. He also
had a large amount of money from an insurance settlement. He
was betting on the dice game with some` of the money but did
not have it all out. Turner generally carried the money in
his wallet or in the backpack.
left the apartment at approximately 3:45 a.m. Marshall left
five or ten minutes later, leaving Danner and Korean with
Turner. At approximately 5:00 a.m., Melissa Clenney,
Turner's downstairs neighbor, was awakened by the sound
of "thumps and bumps" coming from Turner's
apartment. Danner and Korean were the last-known persons to
have seen Turner alive.
leaving Turner's apartment, Danner and Korean walked to
the apartment of their sister. Danner and Korean's route
to the apartment was captured on surveillance video between
5:45 and 6:00 a.m. Both Danner and Korean were carrying
backpacks. Surveillance video from his sister's apartment
complex later that morning captured Danner placing a large
black trash bag in the apartment complex trash bins. In that
video, Danner is seen wearing blue argyle socks and Converse
police searched the apartment where Danner had been staying
with his sister. Of note, the police collected a pair of size
9 Converse tennis shoes, a pair of gray Hanes underwear, and
a pair of blue argyle socks. The shoes collected matched two
bloody footprints located in Turner's apartment in terms
of both pattern and size and matched a third in pattern only.
An examination of the shoes showed discoloration and some
reaction to testing, but it could not be definitively
confirmed as blood. However, Turner's blood was found on
the socks and the underwear seized by the police. The
underwear also contained Danner's DNA, thereby linking
him to that article of clothing. Additionally, Danner was
interviewed by the police. During the interview, he had a
black eye, indicative of his involvement in some altercation.
Danner advised that he had received the injury from his
nephew's hitting him with a broom on May 27, but Marshall
and Smith both testified that Danner did not have a black eye
when they saw him at the apartment in the early morning hours
of May 28 prior to Turner's death.
appeal, Danner asserts that the above-recited evidence was
insufficient to support his conviction because the evidence
presented was circumstantial. He specifically claims that
there were no identifiable eyewitnesses to the murder, and
the State was unable to produce or identify the murder
weapons. With regard to the time frame and nature of the
attack on Turner, Danner contends that the only evidence the
State offered came from Ms. Clenney, the downstairs neighbor,
claiming she heard "thumps and bumps" coming from
Turner's apartment. He argues that those noises could
reasonably have come from innocent conduct, such as
footsteps, and it was possible that someone killed Turner
after Danner had left the apartment. He also challenges the
State's suggestion that he was attempting to destroy
evidence by depositing items in a dumpster at the apartment
complex the next morning. He notes that no trash was
recovered or produced at trial linking him to the murder and
that there is an equally innocent explanation for his
actions. Thus, it also is not sufficient to rule out all
other reasonable conclusions. He asserts that while the
circumstantial evidence presented might be sufficient to
prove that he was present at the time of the attack, it is
not sufficient to prove that he participated in Turner's
murder. He notes that presence alone at the scene of the
crime is insufficient to establish guilt.
is correct that if circumstantial evidence provides the basis
to support a conviction, it must be consistent with the
defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any other
reasonable conclusion. See Edmond v. State, 351 Ark.
495, 95 S.W.3d 789 (2003). Whether the evidence excludes
every other hypothesis is left to the jury to decide.
Carmichael v. State, 340 Ark. 598, 12 S.W.3d 225
(2000). The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury
and not the court. Burley v. State, 348 Ark. 422, 73
S.W.3d 600 (2002). The trier of fact ...