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Miller v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

December 12, 2018

ALLEN MILLER APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT [NO. 16JCR-15-1325] HONORABLE BRENT DAVIS, JUDGE

          Willard Proctor, Jr., P.A., by: Willard Proctor, Jr., for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE

         Allen Miller was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and now appeals his convictions, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying the admission of certain evidence, allowing expert testimony regarding fingerprints, denying two motions for mistrial, and denying his motion for a new trial. We affirm.

         In December 2015, Miller was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. The State alleged that Miller, Kazanna Dixon, and Rodshey Walker robbed George Banks in his home, that Mr. Banks was shot during the robbery, and that Mr. Banks died appromimately twenty days later from his injuries. A jury trial was held over two days in August 2017. The jury found Miller guilty on both counts, and he was sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment and forty years' imprisonment, respectively, to run consecutively. Miller has timely appealed his convictions. Miller does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, so a detailed recitation of the facts is not necessary. Specific facts related to the points on appeal will be discussed as needed.

         I. Evidentiary Objections

         The admissibility of evidence is left to the discretion of the circuit court, and we will not reverse a decision to admit or exclude evidence absent an abuse of discretion. Moore v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 39, 511 S.W.3d 880. An abuse of discretion occurs when the circuit court acts improvidently, thoughtlessly, or without due consideration. Hajek-McClure v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 690, 450 S.W.3d 259.

         Rule 401 of the Arkansas Rules of Evidence defines relevant evidence as "evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Ark. R. Evid. 401. Arkansas Rule of Evidence 402 further provides that "[e]vidence which is not relevant is not admissible." Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. Ark. R. Evid. 403.

         A. Medical Records

         At the trial, Dr. Charles Kokes, the state medical examiner, testified that he performed the autopsy on Banks's body on November 25. Dr. Kokes explained that Mr. Banks had four separate gunshot injuries-the most serious of which passed through the neck and injured the right subclavian artery. Dr. Kokes stated that the gunshot wounds proximately caused Banks's death. On cross-examination, Dr. Kokes was questioned about some of Banks's medical records dated November 6:

Defense Counsel: Is that one of the records you reviewed?
Dr. Kokes: I probably did; yes.
Defense Counsel: Okay. And in this record, you indicated that it was a 30-year-old, gunshot wound to the right back, left hand, and it says continue, it's got "slash/as"; do you know what that is?
Dr. Kokes: That's, uh, that means 81 micrograms, uh, acetosalic silic [sic] acid, which is aspirin.
Defense Counsel: Okay, All right. And the third one down here, no further vascular surgery issues at the time?
Dr. Kokes: Yes.
Defense Counsel: All right. Then I want to go up to page 220 of 459, and it says "A/P"; what does that stand for?"
Dr. Kokes: That stands for Assessment and Plan.
Defense Counsel: Okay. And it says "the patient doing well from a vascular standpoint, with adequate palpable RUE and RLE." ...

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