FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CR-17-1629],
HONORABLE ROBIN F. GREEN, JUDGE
and Zachary, PLLC, Conway, by: Justin Zachary, for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Kent Holt, Asst Atty Gen., for
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Brandon Philpott appeals his conviction by a Benton County
Circuit Court jury of one count of criminal mischief and one
count of domestic battering. He argues that the circuit court
erred in refusing to strike two potential jurors and in
allowing the State to introduce evidence of Philpotts prior
bad acts. We affirm.
case arises out of a July 29, 2018 domestic dispute between
Philpott and his mother, Pam, with whom he lived. Philpott
acknowledges in his brief that he became angry and began
throwing objects around the house and that during the
incident he threw an item at Pam that hit her and caused
to trial, Philpott filed a motion in limine to exclude
evidence of his prior conviction for domestic battering.
Although the State argued that the prior
conviction was admissible under Rule 404(b) of the Arkansas
Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court granted Philpotts
motion to exclude it unless Philpott opened the door to such
voir dire, a few panel members indicated a desire to hear
from the defendant and have him testify to his side of the
story. Philpott challenged two of the panel members for
cause— Mr. Spotts and Mr. Oxford— and the court
denied both requests to strike, finding that both men had
indicated that they could be fair and impartial. Philpott
then used his last peremptory challenge to strike Mr. Spotts
but was forced to accept Mr. Oxford. Although he stated prior
to trial that he did not intend to testify, Philpott did
choose to testify. He argues that this was due to the courts
refusal to strike Mr. Oxford, who had indicated a desire to
hear him testify.
Philpotts former wife testified at trial. During her
cross-examination, the State questioned her about Philpotts
history of destroying property when angry. Philpott objected,
arguing that the questions were prohibited under the courts
ruling on the motion in limine. The State argued that the
motion in limine and the courts ruling had covered only his
prior conviction for domestic battering, which was a
different issue than his habit of destroying property. The
circuit court allowed the testimony.
jury convicted Philpott on both counts and sentenced him to
thirty years imprisonment and a $ 10,000 fine. This timely
"The decision to excuse a juror for cause rests within
the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be
reversed absent an abuse of discretion." Holder v.
State,354 Ark. 364, 383, 124 S.W.3d 439, 452-53 (2003)
(quoting Nooner v. State,322 Ark. 87, 907 S.W.2d
677 (1995)). "Persons comprising the venire are presumed
to be unbiased and qualified to serve." Holder,
354 Ark. at 383, ...