FROM THE LOGAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
42BCR-17-55] HONORABLE JERRY RAMEY, JUDGE
Witt, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE
Gregory Alan Rongey was convicted by a jury in Logan County
Circuit Court of first-degree battery against a law
enforcement officer and possession of a defaced firearm. The
battery charge carried an enhanced penalty due to use of a
firearm in the commission of the battery. Rongey does not
dispute that Booneville police chief Albert Brown was shot in
the thigh with Rongey's firearm, but he contends that it
was an accident. Rongey argues on appeal that the State
failed to present sufficient evidence of his criminal intent
to commit the battery. We affirm.
reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we
determine whether the verdict is supported by substantial
evidence. Howard v. State, 2016 Ark. 434, 506 S.W.3d
843. Substantial evidence is evidence that 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. In reviewing a
sufficiency challenge, we view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the State, considering only evidence that
supports the verdict. Id.
intent or purpose, being a state of mind, can seldom be
positively known to others. Cole v. State, 33
Ark.App. 98, 802 S.W.2d 472 (1991). Since intent ordinarily
cannot be proved by direct evidence, jurors are allowed to
draw upon their common knowledge and experience to infer it
from the circumstances. Martinez v. State, 2018
Ark.App. 187, 545 S.W.3d 264; Green v. State, 2018
Ark.App. 145, 544 S.W.3d 574. Because of the difficulty in
ascertaining a person's intent, a presumption exists that
a person intends the natural and probable consequences of his
or her acts. Lee v. State, 2017 Ark. 337, 532 S.W.3d
first-degree battery, the circuit court instructed the jury
to determine whether the State had proved that Rongey (1)
purposely caused serious physical injury to Brown; (2)
purposely caused physical injury to Brown using a firearm; or
(3) caused serious physical injury to Brown under
circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value
of human life. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-201(a)
(Repl. 2013). A person acts with purpose with respect to his
conduct or a result thereof when it is his conscious object
to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a
result. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-2-202 (Repl.
2013). The phrase "circumstances manifesting extreme
indifference to the value of human life" indicates that
the attendant circumstances themselves must be such as to
demonstrate the culpable mental state of the accused.
McCoy v. State, 347 Ark. 913, 69 S.W.3d 430 (2002).
Extreme indifference is thus in the nature of a culpable
mental state and therefore is akin to intent. Id.
Offenses requiring extreme indifference involve actions that
evidence a mental state on the part of the accused to engage
in some life-threatening activity against the victim.
Price v. State, 373 Ark. 435, 284 S.W.3d 462 (2008);
Hoyle v. State, 371 Ark. 495, 503, 268 S.W.3d 313,
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the State,
revealed the following. At around midnight on April 26, 2017,
Rongey called 911 and made contact with the Logan County
Sheriff's Office. Rongey would later admit that he had
consumed a bottle of Amaretto (a liqueur) and a couple beers.
Rongey told the dispatcher that he wanted to die and wanted a
law enforcement officer to come shoot him. Rongey told the
dispatcher that he had a rifle and a pistol, one of which was
on his lap, and he would have the firearms in his hands so
the officers would shoot him. The dispatcher offered to send
help to Rongey and told him that no one was going to shoot
him. Rongey responded, "When I fire at one [of] them,
though, they will." One officer remembered speaking to
Rongey, testifying that Rongey wanted someone to "just
come over and knock on the door, and he was going to start
shooting so we would have to shoot him." Brown testified
that he spoke with Rongey on the phone, and Rongey told him
that he wanted "to go out in a battle" and that
"if he needed to come find us, he would."
enforcement officers went to Rongey's apartment. Rongey
came out of his apartment and fired a shot. Brown tackled
Rongey from behind, and Brown was struck in the upper thigh
with a bullet from one of Rongey's firearms. The bullet
went through Brown's thigh, causing substantial blood
loss, and Brown was taken to the emergency room for
treatment. Rongey gave a statement to law enforcement
insisting that he never intended to shoot officers but that
he just wanted to die himself. He stated that he fired the
first shot in the air and that the firearm accidentally went
off the second time when he was tackled.
attorney moved for directed verdict, arguing that there was
insufficient evidence that Rongey acted purposely to hurt
Brown or that he acted under circumstances manifesting
extreme indifference to the value of human life. The trial
court denied the motion and denied the renewal of that
motion. The jury found Rongey guilty of first-degree battery,
and this appeal followed.
evidence may constitute substantial evidence to support a
conviction. Price, supra. To be
substantial, the circumstantial evidence must exclude every
other reasonable hypothesis than that of the guilt of the
accused. Id. The question whether the circumstantial
evidence excludes every other reasonable hypothesis
consistent with innocence is for the jury to decide.
Id. We must determine whether the jury resorted to
speculation and conjecture in reaching its verdict.
Id. The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the
jury and not the court. Id. The trier of fact is
free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony
and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and
inconsistent evidence. Id. Extreme indifference
requires actions that evidence a mental state on the part of
the accused to engage in some life-threatening activity
against the victim. Id. The mere act of pointing a
loaded gun at another person can be sufficient to establish a
manifestation of extreme indifference to the value of human
life, regardless of whether there was an actual intent to
shoot. See Isbell v. State, 326 Ark. 17, 931 S.W.2d
the foregoing principles to the evidence in this case, we
hold that the trial court did not err in denying Rongey's
motion for directed verdict. Rongey, who had consumed a
considerable amount of alcohol, told law enforcement that he
was armed with two firearms, that he wanted to "go out
in a battle," and that he would come to law enforcement
if law enforcement did not come to his apartment. Rongey
intentionally fired a round as he came out of his apartment
to encounter law enforcement personnel, and Brown was
subsequently struck with a bullet from one of Rongey's
two firearms. This is sufficient evidence to ...