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Oxford v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

December 12, 2018

RYAN SAIGE OXFORD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT [NO. 66CR-17-65] HONORABLE J. MICHAEL FITZHUGH, JUDGE

          Laura Avery, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Michael A. Hylden, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, JUDGE

         Ryan Saige Oxford was convicted by a Sebastian County Circuit Court jury of second-degree murder and seven counts of terroristic acts, one of which resulted in death, and the jury recommended concurrent sentences.[1] However, the circuit court sentenced him consecutively for a total term of 936 months' imprisonment.[2] On appeal, Oxford claims that the circuit court abused its discretion by ordering his sentences to run consecutively when the jury did not recommend it. We affirm.

         Oxford was originally charged by criminal information in connection with the shooting death of Justin Lopez. It was established at trial that Oxford and three other men took guns and masks with them, questioned people at a wedding, went to a trailer occupied by Justin Lopez, and affirmed that Lopez was inside. At least two of the four men shot several times into the trailer, and Lopez received a fatal gunshot wound to the head. After the shooting, the four returned to their vehicle and went back to the wedding. Police collected evidence and spoke with Oxford and other witnesses. Transcripts of Oxford's two interviews by police were admitted, and therein Oxford stated that he and three others used two guns, wore masks, and shot at Lopez's trailer; although, Oxford claimed he did not shoot. Oxford downplayed his involvement during the interviews; however, he admitted that he worked at a pawn shop and that he collected guns. He also said that one of the guns used in the shooting belonged to him, and the other gun used had been sold by him to a codefendant.

         The jury found Oxford guilty of second-degree murder, eight counts of felony with a firearm, six counts of terroristic acts, and one count of a terroristic act involving death and recommended that Oxford serve concurrent sentences that would amount to twenty years' imprisonment. The State asked that the court consider running the sentences consecutively, and the defense responded as follows:

We recognize that you have the discretion in this case to do whatever you are going to do. I would just say that traditionally the courts follow the recommendation of the jury. As far as my client is concerned, I think that if you run them consecutive it appears that you might possibly be violating his due process rights by his desire to go to a jury trial. We think that is unfair.

         The circuit court made its ruling, stating as follows:

All right. Well, I have given this a lot of thought over the last sixteen hours or so since the verdict came back in last night, at home, and again this morning.
This was senseless violence. There have been so many lives and families that are ruined because of one group of people thought they were being dissed. I looked at the nature of this offense, going to that trailer knowing that people were in there, shooting at least 40 rounds into paper-thin walls of a trailer with bullets going in and out of the trailer.
Mr. Oxford, you were the one that provided the weapons for this. You worked in the pawn shop. I don't know if Robert permitted you to sell firearms, but I know you are familiar with the ATF Form 4473 that these people are required to fill out. At least years ago when I was dealing with the ATF and Form 4473, one of the questions was a felony and you were allowing at least one of those guns to be in the possession of a kid, a young man who had been convicted of manslaughter and hadn't been out of the Detention Center 30 days before he, you and others are shooting, waving and flaunting these weapons with rap music, signs that you were making in the wee hours of the morning. On some of those films, I think it was 2:30 or 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning. Then, I don't believe that Mr. Porras just came over to your house and got that gun. The testimony was that you brought it over there and you have given him or sold him the other, but then you go out and you get into a vehicle with those weapons and your comment was that you knew that they were going to or I think it was you knew they were going to do some sh**.
The Court feels that you knew very well that there was going to be some shooting and you did absolutely nothing. You went along with them in the car, you knew those guns were in there, and when they pulled up there and instead of getting out and fleeing or trying to stop them you jumped up in the front seat so that you could drive the getaway so that nobody would get caught. Then, knowing this had gone on, you went back to this wedding party so you would have an alibi. Then, you were able to go home and go to bed like nothing at all had happened. As a result of it, there is a young man that is dead and ...

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