RONNIE R. COLLINS APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-15-1818] HONORABLE BARRY SIMS, JUDGE.
William R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller,
Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, Associate Justice.
Ronnie R. Collins appeals from his conviction for capital
murder, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. For
reversal, Collins argues that the circuit court abused its
discretion in not allowing him to impeach a prosecution
witness's credibility with extrinsic evidence of her
mental disorder. We affirm.
17, 2015, Collins was charged with the premeditated and
deliberated capital murder of Jonathan Brown. Collins was
also charged with employing a firearm during the commission
of the offense. The State filed an amended information on
October 17, 2017, asserting that Collins was a habitual
offender with four or more prior felonies. Although Collins
does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, a brief
recitation of the facts and the evidence presented at the
October 2017 jury trial is helpful to understand the issue
presented on appeal.
early morning hours of May 8, 2015, Brown was shot and killed
inside Larry Bailey's residence. Bailey testified that he
often let homeless persons stay at his home, and he indicated
that on the night of the murder, there were five others
sleeping there- Brown, who was sleeping in the living room on
the floor; Preston Hopkins, who was sleeping on the
living-room couch; a female identified as "Toledo,"
who was sleeping in the bedroom with Bailey; Collins, who was
sleeping on a pallet in the kitchen area; and Collins's
girlfriend, Lakeesha Jackson, who was sleeping next to
Collins. Bailey stated that he heard Brown and Collins, whom
Bailey knew as "N.O.," arguing that morning and
that he got up and was standing at the bedroom doorway
looking into the living room when he saw Collins shoot Brown
three times with a black pistol. According to Bailey, Collins
and the other individuals then left the house, and Bailey
went across the street to use his neighbor's phone to
call 911. Bailey indicated that while he was across the
street on his neighbor's front porch, he witnessed
Collins go back inside the house, heard a fourth gunshot, and
then saw Collins exit the house and walk down the alley.
Bailey testified that he did not see Collins again after the
Jackson testified that she had been dating Collins for
approximately one month at the time of the shooting. She
stated that on May 8, 2015, she arrived at Bailey's home
around 3:00 a.m. to find Collins asleep on his pallet in the
kitchen with a black .45 semiautomatic pistol on his chest.
Jackson put the gun on the floor, laid down beside Collins,
and went to sleep. She testified that a couple of hours
later, Brown was getting ready for work and asked Collins
what time it was. According to Jackson, Collins and Brown
began arguing. Collins walked into the living room, and
Jackson then heard multiple gunshots. Jackson stated that she
did not actually see Collins shoot Brown. She indicated that
everyone left the house after the shooting, including
Collins, although she remembered seeing Collins return to the
house and hearing one more gunshot.
medical examiner testified that Brown had been shot twice in
his right arm, once in his right thigh, and once in his chest
and that he died from multiple gunshot wounds. Jennifer
Floyd, the firearm and tool-mark examiner, indicated that all
four of the bullets and all of the cartridge cases were .45
caliber and were fired from the same gun, which was never
recovered. Megan Buchert, the crime-scene specialist, further
testified that additional rounds of .45-caliber bullets were
found in a black bag near the pallet where Collins had been
jury found Collins guilty of the premeditated and deliberated
capital murder of Brown and of using a firearm during the
commission of the offense. Because the State waived the death
penalty, Collins was sentenced by the circuit court to life
in prison. He also agreed to have the circuit court sentence
him on the firearm enhancement, for which he received a
sentence of zero years' imprisonment. The sentencing
order was entered on November 17, 2017, and an amended
sentencing order was filed on December 4, 2017. Collins
timely appealed from his conviction and sentence.
sole point on appeal, Collins contends that the circuit court
abused its discretion by not allowing him to impeach Lakeesha
Jackson's credibility with extrinsic evidence that she
suffered from a mental disorder, specifically, schizophrenia.
Prior to trial, Collins filed a motion requesting that the
circuit court issue an order directing the release of
Jackson's mental-health records from July 1, 2014, to
September 20, 2017. Collins argued that evidence of
Jackson's mental state, both currently and at the time of
the alleged offense in 2015, was relevant due to the nature
of her anticipated testimony at trial. The State argued that
Jackson's patient-psychotherapist privilege under
Arkansas Rule of Evidence 503 (2017) barred discovery of
these records. The circuit court denied Collins's motion.
to the start of trial, defense counsel indicated that it had
obtained certified circuit court documents from several
unrelated cases involving Jackson in 2011 and 2016 that
contained information pertaining to her schizophrenia. The
State asserted that there was no evidence that Jackson was
suffering from a psychotic disorder either currently or at
the time of the murder and asked that the circuit court
exclude this evidence as irrelevant. Collins responded that
the court records in his possession indicated that
Jackson's mental health was an ongoing issue, and he
requested that he be allowed to use these documents to
impeach her on cross-examination if the matter was brought up
during her direct examination. The circuit court reserved
ruling on this issue until Jackson testified.
Jackson's direct-examination testimony, she indicated
that she had spent time at a certain psychiatric facility in
connection with a prior criminal charge. Collins renewed his
request to impeach Jackson's credibility with the court
documents pertaining to her mental disorder, arguing that she
had opened the door to admission of this evidence. The
circuit court denied this request. Collins later proffered
the relevant court records into the record.
courts have broad discretion on evidentiary issues, and we
will not reverse a circuit court's ruling on the
admission of evidence in the absence of an abuse of
discretion. Friar v. State, 2016 Ark. 245. An 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. Hortenberry
v. State, 2017 Ark. 261, 526 S.W.3d 840. Furthermore, we