FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-17-417]
HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE
Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Allen Claggett was convicted by a Jefferson County jury of
one count of second-degree murder and one count of
third-degree domestic battery. He was sentenced to sixty
years in the Arkansas Department of Correction and ordered to
pay a $15, 000 fine for the murder conviction; he was
sentenced to one year in the Jefferson County jail for the
battery conviction. On appeal, he contends that the circuit
court should have granted his motion for directed verdict on
the murder charge. Because substantial evidence supports
Claggett's conviction, we affirm.
motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Carter v. State, 2019
Ark.App. 57, ___ S.W.3d ___. In reviewing a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State and consider only the
evidence that supports the verdict. Taylor v. State,
2017 Ark.App. 331, 522 S.W.3d 844; Ealy v. State,
2017 Ark.App. 35, 511 S.W.3d 355. We affirm a conviction if
substantial evidence exists to support it. Taylor,
supra. Substantial evidence is that which 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.
therefore review the evidence that was presented at trial,
examining it in the light most favorable to the State. In the
early morning hours of June 2, 2017, Claggett's sister,
Nancy Claggett, was at her home with her boyfriend, Henry
Johnson, the victim in this case. Claggett arrived at
Nancy's house and began arguing with Nancy. During the
argument, Claggett hit Nancy in the eye. Nancy tried to
prevent Claggett from striking Johnson because Johnson was
partially disabled from a previous stroke and was unable to
defend himself. Claggett began hitting Johnson repeatedly,
knocking him onto the bed and then onto the floor. Once
Johnson was on the floor, Claggett began "stomping"
on Johnson. Nancy ran from the house, but she could still
hear Claggett hitting and stomping on Johnson as she did.
Shortly thereafter, at about one o'clock in the morning,
Claggett called Nancy to come back inside where she
discovered Johnson in distress, vomiting, and apparently
unconscious. Nancy attempted to call an ambulance, but
Claggett had her phone. As a result, Nancy was unable to call
for medical attention until noon on June 2.
response to Nancy's call, EMS first responders
ascertained the nature of Johnson's injuries. Because of
the severity of his head injuries, Johnson was taken to UAMS
in Little Rock, where a CT scan revealed the presence of a
subdural hematoma, or bleeding underneath the fibrous
covering of the brain. Surgeons performed a craniotomy on
Johnson.Unfortunately, this procedure was not
successful, and blood reaccumulated in the area,
necessitating a second surgery within hours to drain the
epidural hematoma that developed. Postoperatively, doctors
determined that Johnson had suffered a significant
infarction, or lack of blood flow, to the right side of his
brain, resulting in that part of his brain beginning to die.
On June 8, 2017, Johnson was taken to hospice care, where he
subsequently died of pneumonia on June 13. While pneumonia
and surgical complications contributed to Johnson's
death, Dr. Stephen Erickson, the deputy chief medical
examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, testified
that Johnson's neurological injury was caused by a
traumatic head injury. Ultimately, Dr. Erickson opined that
Johnson had died as a result of receiving head trauma or
secondary to the traumatic head injury.
on this evidence, Claggett was convicted of second-degree
murder. A person commits murder in the second degree if, with
the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another
person, the person causes the death of any person. Ark. Code
Ann. § 5-10-103(a)(2) (Repl. 2013). On appeal from his
conviction for this offense, Claggett argues that there was
insufficient evidence to show that he acted with purposeful
conduct that resulted in Johnson's death. He also argues
that the jury had to resort to speculation and conjecture to
determine that his actions were the cause of Johnson's
unable to reach Claggett's purposeful-conduct argument.
At trial, Claggett moved for directed verdict as follows:
I would move for a directed verdict. The State showed-there
has been proof that there was a fight between the defendant
and the decedent that resulted in the decedent having to have
brain surgery. And there were complications from the brain
surgery that led to his death. It was not caused immediately
by the defendant. And there has been a death of the defendant
[sic], there was a fight, but there's been no
evidence that the fight caused the death.
readily apparent from Claggett's directed-verdict motion
that he did not argue that the State failed to prove that he
acted with purposeful conduct. Arguments not raised below are
waived, and parties cannot change the grounds for an
objection on appeal but are bound by the scope and nature of
the objections and arguments presented at trial. Goins v.
State, 2019 Ark.App. 11, ___ S.W.3d ___. Because
Claggett did not argue to the circuit court that there was
insufficient evidence of his purposeful state of mind, we
cannot address the merits of this specific argument.
then to Claggett's second argument, which is that the
evidence was insufficient to show that his conduct was the
cause of Johnson's death. With respect to causation,
Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-2-205 (Repl. 2013) provides
may be found when the result would not have occurred but for
the conduct of the defendant operating either alone ...