FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-16-31]
HONORABLE BRAD KARREN, JUDGE
Law Firm, PLLC, by: Matthew D. Swindle, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, JUDGE
Allen Farmer was convicted in the Benton County Circuit Court
of aggravated robbery, aggravated residential burglary,
terroristic threatening, and domestic battery in the third
degree. He was sentenced to twenty-two years'
imprisonment. Following his convictions, Farmer filed a
motion for new trial, which was denied by the circuit court.
Farmer now appeals, arguing that the circuit court erred in
not granting a new trial because text messages and voicemails
introduced by the State should not have been admitted or
allowed to remain in evidence. We affirm.
day the jury trial was set to begin, September 11, 2017,
Farmer sought a continuance based on the fact that the
defense had not received recordings of voicemails from the
prosecutor until September 1, 2017, despite the
prosecutor's previous representation that all discovery
had been provided. The State did not object to the request
for a continuance, but the court denied the request and
initially ruled that the voicemails would be inadmissible.
After the State argued against exclusion of the voicemails,
the court decided to take the matter under advisement.
court later heard the defense's motion to exclude text
messages sent between Farmer and the victim, Darcy Fisher.
The messages were not extracted from Fisher's phone by
the State but were first produced on paper by Fisher at a
hearing for an order of protection. The defense attempted to
subpoena the phone, but Fisher could not produce
Farmer alleged that the text messages the State intended to
introduce could not be authenticated because there are easily
accessible tools that can be used to fabricate text messages,
some messages appeared to have been altered, and the
progression of the conversation indicated some messages might
have been deleted. The court ruled that based on the
information the State planned to use to authenticate the
messages, including Farmer's phone number, statements he
made to his mother, and the content of the messages, the
messages would be admissible. After listening to the
voicemails, the court ruled that they would also be
admissible, noting that they contained the same information
as in the text messages.
trial, Fisher's neighbor, Jody Keigley, testified that he
called the police on January 4, 2016, when Fisher yelled at
him to do so from the street and told him that Farmer had
beaten her and stolen her guns. Keigley later saw Farmer
holding Fisher by the elbow and pointing her back toward the
house, and he saw Farmer retrieve a tactical vest and a rifle
from his car.
police officers who responded to the scene testified that
when they arrived, Fisher ran out of the house and was
extremely distraught and holding her abdomen. Fisher told
them that Farmer said he was there to get what was owed him
and kicked in the door after she told him to leave. She said
that he threw his AR-15 rifle on the ground and started
attacking her. Officers detained Farmer inside the house and
found a pocketknife in his pocket. An unloaded AR-15 that
belonged to Fisher and a flat-screen television appeared to
have been thrown haphazardly onto the couch. A flak jacket
with six AR-15 magazines that were fully loaded were found
near the front door, and Farmer's fully loaded AR-15 was
found on the floor in the back bedroom. In Farmer's car,
police found a loaded nine-millimeter Glock pistol in a
holster and another pistol along with ammunition and a
tactical knife in a bag. The front door of Fisher's house
appeared to have been busted inward.
Clayton Stewart testified that Farmer told them several
different stories of what happened, including that Fisher had
stolen money and guns from his house a few weeks earlier and
had invited him over to retrieve them. Farmer claimed that
Fisher attacked him when he went into the house and he simply
defended himself and pushed her off; he said that she broke
the door by slamming it. Although Farmer claimed that Fisher
had attacked and scratched him, police were unable to find
any marks or scratches on him. Fisher, however, had bruises
and red marks on her head, neck, abdomen, arms, back, and
legs. Farmer's mother, Sandra Switzer, identified
Farmer's phone number and testified that he called her on
January 4, 2016, and told her that he had beaten Fisher up
and that the police were coming to arrest him. Switzer said
that Farmer later told her that he had been having a fight
with Fisher via text messages on the morning of the incident.
testified that Farmer, her ex-boyfriend, was texting and
calling her on January 4, 2016, and the night before. She
said that State's exhibit 20 depicted text messages they
exchanged as they appeared on her phone. She said that she
downloaded an app on the phone that would convert the texts
to a PDF file and show the phone number and time for each
message. Fisher testified that the exhibit was an accurate
copy of the text conversation she had with Farmer on the
morning of January 4. The exhibit was admitted into evidence
over the defense's previous objections. Fisher testified
that she did not answer Farmer's phone calls on January
4, and he left voicemails on her phone. A recording of the
voicemails was made at the Gentry Police Department. Fisher
said that the discs of the recordings contained accurate
copies of the voicemail messages, and they were admitted into
evidence. Although admitted into evidence at this time, the
text messages were not read or shown to the jury and the
voicemails were not played until near the end of Fisher's
testimony on direct examination.
testified that Farmer had threatened her before but nothing
had ever happened, so she felt comfortable taking a nap after
receiving the threatening messages. She woke up to Farmer
beating on her door. Fisher told him to leave or she would
call the police, but before she could do so Farmer kicked
open the door, which flung her back. She said that Farmer
came in with his flak jacket and AR-15 and started beating
her with closed fists. She said that she was pinned
underneath him and begged him to stop as he hit her on the
legs, abdomen, and groin area. He also hit her on the head,
slapped her, and held a knife to her cheek and threatened to
disfigure her face. He called her names, told her that she
was going to die, and when she told him that her children
would be home soon, he said that they could die with her.
Farmer also told her that he was going to take her belongings
because she owed him money and asked where her AR-15 and
testified that when Farmer went to get her gun, she ran
across the street to tell her neighbor to call 911. She said
that she then saw Farmer put her AR-15 in his car and start
to bring her television out to the car. Fisher took her AR-15
out of the car, but Farmer saw her and jerked it out of her
hands and flung it in the yard. He then put her in a
chokehold and dragged her back in the house. Fisher said that
he again started hitting her and threatening to kill her, but
he stopped and let go of her when he heard police sirens.
Photos of Fisher's injuries were admitted into evidence,
and she said that she had been diagnosed with a concussion.
messages in State's exhibit 20 were then read to the
jury. The lengthy conversation between Fisher and Farmer
begins at 8:58 a.m. and consists of arguing about their
relationship and other matters. The messages contain numerous
threats sent by Farmer, including the following:
If you mouth my kid I will shove my thumb through ...