FROM THE DREW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 22CR-17-137]
HONORABLE SAM POPE, JUDGE
Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE
Jeremy Louis Huskey was tried before a Drew County Circuit
Court jury and convicted of aggravated residential burglary
and manslaughter. Appellant was sentenced to an effective
prison term of fifty-five years plus a $10, 000 fine. On
appeal, appellant challenges (1) the sufficiency of the
evidence to support that he was the person who committed
these crimes; (2) the admission of the deceased victim's
statement under the excited-utterance exception to the rule
against hearsay; (3) the admission of that statement in
violation of appellant's right to confront the witness
against him; and (4) the admission of a prior bad act under
Rule 404(b). We affirm.
first consider the sufficiency-of-the-evidence argument. The
victim, sixty-seven-year-old George Flowers, was in his
residence when someone broke in and beat him severely. George
later died from the blunt-force trauma to his head. Appellant
challenges whether the State presented sufficient evidence to
identify him as the perpetrator.
standard of appellate review is well settled. The test for
determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the
verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or
circumstantial. Estrada v. State, 2011 Ark. 3, 376
S.W.3d 395. Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough
to reach a conclusion one way or the other beyond suspicion
or conjecture. Smith v. State, 352 Ark. 92, 98
S.W.3d 433 (2003). When a defendant challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence convicting him, the evidence is
viewed in the light most favorable to the State, and only
evidence supporting the verdict will be considered. Moore
v. State, 355 Ark. 657, 144 S.W.3d 260 (2004). We
examine all the evidence including evidence allegedly
admitted erroneously. Barron-Gonzalez v. State, 2013
Ark.App. 120, 426 S.W.3d 508. The jury has the sole authority
to evaluate the credibility of evidence and to apportion the
weight to be given to the evidence. Starling v.
State, 2016 Ark. 20, 480 S.W.3d 158.
evidence in this case is reviewed in the light most favorable
to the State. Christy Johnson had allowed George to live with
her for about a year, but she wanted him to move.
Christy's brother John Etheridge lived in a house about
seventy-five yards away from Christy's house. Christy
moved to John's house while she waited for George to find
somewhere else to live. Christy was dating
thirty-eight-year-old appellant, and John had seen appellant
drive a small blue car when he came over to visit Christy.
John had heard Christy complaining about George to appellant,
who told Christy that "if you want him out, I'll get
him out." John remembered that appellant had gone over
to confront George, during which encounter appellant
"b**ch slapped" George.
two weeks later, at around 10:30 at night, John saw the same
car being driven up the driveway and stopping at
Christy's house; the car departed less than ten minutes
later. John and his son went outside and saw George on the
ground between the two houses; they helped him up and to
John's house, where John's mother tended to
George's bloody wounds. George had a deep cut on his left
elbow; his nose was cut and appeared nearly torn off; he had
a head injury behind his left that looked like he had been
hit with a tire tool; his bottom lip appeared to be fileted;
his hands were torn up. George was upset and crying, and John
asked George what happened.
told John that appellant had come to the door, stormed
inside, hit him in the face, knocked him against the
entertainment center, caused him to fall on the floor, and
kicked him repeatedly. George knew it was appellant because,
although his attacker had a shirt wrapped around his face, he
recognized appellant's voice; appellant had told George
to "get the f**k out of Christy's house." John
called 911 and reported that appellant had beaten up George.
Law enforcement officers responded to the call and took
pictures of George's injuries, but George refused medical
treatment. A sheriff's deputy affirmed that George told
him who had assaulted him. A few days later, George's
condition deteriorated, he was hospitalized, and he
ultimately died. An autopsy revealed all the injuries to
George's thin body and the damage to his head. His death
was ruled a homicide because he died as a result of
blunt-force head trauma.
admitted that she had initially lied to the police, telling
them that she and appellant had been at his aunt's house,
but in truth, appellant had gone to see George to convince
him to move out. Appellant, who had been drinking, came back
about fifteen minutes later and told Christy that George
"would leave now." She said that appellant wanted
to get rid of George so he could move in with Christy.
Christy later asked appellant why he had done that to George,
and appellant replied, "You wanted him out of your
house." Christy said that she initially lied because
appellant told her to, and she was afraid of him.
challenges the State's proof by arguing that there were
no witnesses to the attack, there was no DNA to connect him
to the attack, and the victim identified appellant only by
his voice and not by his face. This argument is unpersuasive.
The victim positively identified appellant as the man who had
severely beat him, and appellant admitted to Christy that he
had attacked George to get him to move. We consider only the
evidence that supports the verdict, and credibility findings
are for the jury to make. We hold that there is substantial
evidence to support the jury's finding that appellant was
guilty of aggravated residential burglary and manslaughter.
remaining three points on appeal challenge the admission of
certain testimony. On appellate review of evidentiary
rulings, we recognize that a circuit court has broad
discretion, and we will not reverse an evidentiary ruling
absent an abuse of discretion. Hopkins v. State,
2017 Ark.App. 273, 522 S.W.3d 142. Abuse of discretion is a
high threshold that does not simply require error in the
circuit court's decision but requires that the circuit
court act improvidently, thoughtlessly, or without due
consideration. Owens v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 109,
515 S.W.3d 625. In addition, we will not reverse absent a
showing of prejudice, as prejudice is not presumed.
Edison v. State, 2015 Ark. 376, 472 S.W.3d 474.
first challenges the circuit court's finding that
George's statement to John identifying appellant as the
perpetrator fell within the excited-utterance exception to
the rule against hearsay. Arkansas Rule of Evidence 803(2)
provides that an "excited utterance" is a statement
relating to a startling event or condition made while the
declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the
event or condition. Factors to consider are the lapse of
time, the age of the declarant, the physical and mental
condition of the declarant, the characteristics of the event,
and the subject matter of the statement. Wright v.
State, 368 Ark. 629, 249 S.W.3d 133 (2007). For the
exception to apply, there must be an event that excites the
declarant. Id. It must appear that the
declarant's condition at the time was such that the
statement was spontaneous, excited, or impulsive rather than
the product of reflection and deliberation. Id. The
statements must be uttered during the period of excitement
and must express the declarant's reaction to the event.
Id. It is for the circuit court to determine whether
the statement was ...