FROM THE DREW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CR-2014-40-1]
HONORABLE SAMUEL B. POPE, JUDGE
Law Firm, by: Michael K. Kaiser, Megan M. Wilson, and William
O. "Bill" James, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Darnisa Evans Johnson, Deputy
Att'y Gen., and David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't Att'y
Gen., for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
Jonathan Antonio Woods appeals an order of the Drew County
Circuit Court denying his petition for postconviction relief
pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal
Procedure. For reversal, Woods argues that (1) the circuit
court erred when it denied without a hearing his claim that
his trial counsel was ineffective because counsel compared
his case to the O.J. Simpson case, and (2) appellate counsel
was ineffective by failing to challenge the sufficiency of
the evidence on direct appeal. We affirm.
January 2016, Woods stood trial before a Drew County Circuit
Court jury. The State introduced evidence demonstrating that
on March 14, 2014, the Monticello Police Department was
called to the Save-A-Lot store in Monticello for reports of a
man assaulting a woman in the parking lot. The woman proved
to be Samantha Poole, and the man was Woods. The incident
began inside the store when Woods grabbed Poole by the hair
and dragged her outside. Witnesses reported that the man
eventually forced Poole at gunpoint into the driver's
seat of a Cadillac. One eyewitness reported hearing gunshots
and seeing Poole exit the vehicle once before Woods
"brought her back." The two then drove away. James
Slaughter served as a Drew County sheriff's deputy on the
date of the crime. Slaughter testified that he was on the way
to the Save-A-Lot when he saw the Cadillac pulling out of the
parking lot. Slaughter blocked the Cadillac with his cruiser.
Once the Cadillac was stopped, Woods shot Poole multiple
times, killing her. Slaughter shot Woods during the
confrontation, but Woods survived.
was charged with kidnapping and capital murder under Arkansas
Code Annotated § 5-11-102 (Repl. 2012) and Arkansas Code
Annotated § 5-10-101 (Supp. 2017). Section 5-11-102
(a) A person commits the offense of kidnapping if, without
consent, the person restrains another person so as to
interfere substantially with the other person's liberty
with the purpose of:
(4) Inflicting physical injury upon the other person;
. . . .
(6) Terrorizing the other person or another person
5-10-101 provides that a person commits capital murder if the
person commits certain felonies, including kidnapping, and
"[i]n the course of and in furtherance of the felony or
in immediate flight from the felony, the person or an
accomplice causes the death of a person under circumstances
manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human
life[.]" Woods was convicted of both kidnapping and
capital murder and was sentenced respectively to forty years
imprisonment and life imprisonment without parole.
filed a timely Rule 37 petition alleging multiple points at
which trial and appellate counsel allegedly rendered
constitutionally ineffective assistance, including trial
counsel's references to the Simpson case and appellate
counsel's failure to challenge the sufficiency of the
evidence that are the bases of this appeal. The State argued
in response that Woods (1) did not show that he was
prejudiced by any discussion of the Simpson case, (2) did not
explain how counsel's response to a juror's comment
about the case was ineffective, and (3) did not demonstrate
that any argument by appellate counsel as to the sufficiency
of the evidence would have been successful. The circuit court
issued written findings and denied the petition without a
hearing, and Woods filed a timely appeal.
Standard of Review
court reviews the trial court's decision on a Rule 37.1
petition for clear error. Gordon v. State, 2018 Ark.
73, 539 S.W.3d 586. A finding is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the appellate
court, after reviewing the entire evidence, is left with the
definite and firm ...