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Hinton v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

May 2, 2019

Kenneth HINTON, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

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          APPEAL FROM THE LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 40CR-2013-13-5], HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE

          Bill Luppen, for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         KAREN R. BAKER, Associate Justice

          Appellant Kenneth Hinton appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. Hinton was convicted of one count of first-degree battery and one count of second-degree battery and sentenced to thirty years’ imprisonment and fifteen years’ imprisonment respectively. Hinton’s convictions and sentences were affirmed in Hinton v. State, 2017 Ark. 107, 515 S.W.3d 121. Following this court’s decision, Hinton timely filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. After a hearing, the circuit court entered its order denying Hinton’s petition. We affirm.

          Hinton’s convictions stem from a disturbance at the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction ("ADC") on October 28, 2012, in which Hinton and other inmates were involved. Hinton was charged in the disturbance for injuring Warden Joe Page and shift lieutenant Stephen Simmons. Initially, Hinton was named as a codefendant with Karl Pearce, Demetrius Woods, Desmond Holliman, Charles Jester, and Antonio Smith. On December 15, 2014, a jury trial was held and resulted in a mistrial on December 16. On April 25, 2016, the case proceeded to trial for a second time.

          During Hinton’s trial, Lieutenant Simmons testified that on the day of the incident, he had been working at the Varner Unit for a little over two years and was familiar with Hinton. Lieutenant Simmons testified that at the time of the incident there was tension in the chow hall because the inmates realized that an illegal phone had been confiscated from one of the barracks. A riot broke out with several inmates assaulting the staff. Lieutenant Simmons testified that Hinton struck him in the back of his head. Lieutenant Simmons testified that he was certain Hinton was the inmate who had struck him because "that’s a face I will never, ever forget." Lieutenant Simmons testified that after Hinton struck him, Hinton immediately ran and struck Warden Page. During his testimony, Lieutenant Simmons reviewed videos and still photographs of the incident and identified Hinton as the inmate who had struck him and Warden Page. With regard to Warden Page’s condition after he was struck by Hinton, Lieutenant Simmons testified that Warden Page was unresponsive. Lieutenant Simmons testified that as a result of the incident, he prepared an incident report in which he stated that Hinton ran out of the main chow hall and hit him with a closed fist on the left side of his face. On cross-examination, Lieutenant Simmons testified that he did not document Hinton’s striking Warden Page in the incident report.

          Sergeant Kenneth Ridgell, a field rider with the ADC, testified that he was familiar with Hinton because Hinton previously worked on his utility squad. Sergeant Ridgell testified that on the day of the incident, he ...


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