FROM THE PRAIRIE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
59SCR-17-14], HONORABLE TOM HUGHES, JUDGE
Law Firm, Little Rock, by: Michael Kiel Kaiser and William O.
"Bill" James, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Karen Virgina Wallace, Asst Atty
Gen., for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
Yuniesky Hernandez-Diaz was convicted on July 2, 2018, in the
Prairie County Circuit Court of fleeing and possessing a
controlled substance with the purpose to deliver. He argues
that there was insufficient evidence to support the fleeing
conviction and that his case must be remanded for correction
of clerical errors in the sentencing order. The State opposes
his sufficiency argument but concedes that the errors in the
sentencing order should be corrected. We affirm and remand to
correct clerical errors in the sentencing order.
Hernandez-Diaz was charged by criminal information with
possessing more than twenty-five pounds of marijuana and
felony fleeing. At his trial, William Basore, a K9 police
officer with the Hazen Police Department, testified that he
had been patrolling the interstate on December 21, 2016, when
he observed Hernandez-Diazs vehicle cross the fog line.
Basore activated his lights and siren, but Hernandez-Diaz
increased his speed to 115 miles an hour and did not stop.
Basore called for backup, and he testified that
Hernandez-Diaz continued "on the south side or the
shoulder of the interstate to pass cars going that way. When
he couldnt get over to the south side, he would continuously
pass cars using both shoulders." The chase continued for
about twenty-two miles. The Arkansas State Police were
contacted, and officers deployed spike strips as
Hernandez-Diaz approached, and he hit the strips, deflating
his front tires. Hernandez-Diaz continued for another two
miles before veering off the roadway and crashing in the
woods. He jumped out of his vehicle on the passenger side and
ran into the woods, leaving behind a black bag filled with
what later was discovered to be baggies of marijuana. After
Basores police dog helped to follow and apprehend him,
Hernandez-Diaz complied with the officers, and he was taken
to jail. Officers then searched his vehicle, finding several
large bags of marijuana in the backseat.
Busselle, an investigator for the Central Arkansas Drug Task
Force, testified that he assisted the Hazen police and
retrieved the marijuana for processing. He photographed it,
weighed it, placed it in boxes, and took it to the Arkansas
State Crime Lab for analysis. He said that the marijuana in
its packaging weighed 27.4 pounds and that he had weighed
each bag separately. The packaging was vacuum-sealed freezer
bags. Dan Hedges, a forensic scientist for the Arkansas State
Crime Lab, testified that the evidence tested positive for
marijuana. He said that he had weighed the bags labeled 1
through 14 of the twenty-six bags of evidence and that an
approximate weight for the entirety of the marijuana was
Hernandez-Diaz moved for a directed verdict at the close of
the States evidence, arguing that insufficient evidence was
presented by the State to prove possession of a controlled
substance in excess of twenty-five pounds and that all the
elements of fleeing had not been met because the officers
testimony did not establish that anyone was put at risk. The
trial court denied the motion.
jury found Hernandez-Diaz guilty of fleeing by means of a
vehicle under certain circumstances manifesting extreme
indifference to the value of human life, purposely operating
the vehicle in a manner that created a substantial danger of
death or serious physical injury. Further, the jury found him
guilty of possessing less than twenty-five pounds of
marijuana with the intent to deliver. However, the sentencing
order reflects that he was convicted of ...