FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 18CR-17-518]
HONORABLE JOHN N. FOGLEMAN, JUDGE
Lewellen, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, JUDGE
Lamarvin Farmer appeals the sentencing order entered by the
Crittenden County Circuit Court convicting him of one count
of attempted capital murder, with an enhancement for
employing a firearm; sixteen counts of second-degree unlawful
discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, with each count being
enhanced for employing a firearm; and one count of fleeing,
with an enhancement for employing a firearm. Farmer was
sentenced to a total of ninety-six years' imprisonment
for these convictions. On appeal, Farmer raises three points:
(1) the circuit court erred in denying his motion for
mistrial; (2) the circuit court erred in denying his motion
for new trial; and (3) there was insufficient evidence
corroborating the accomplice testimony to support his
convictions. We affirm.
trial, the evidence established that around 9:30 p.m. on May
19, 2017, patrol officer Cody Gross of the West Memphis
Police Department observed a gold Oldsmobile Alero with three
occupants turn into a convenience store. Officer Gross
witnessed two of the occupants of the Alero, Farmer and
Vondre McClure, standing outside the vehicle at the gas
station. When the Alero left the convenience store, the
officer followed it. As the vehicle approached speeds of
fifty-five to sixty-five miles an hour, Officer Gross turned
on his blue lights to initiate a traffic stop. The Alero made
an abrupt right turn without applying the brakes, after which
someone in the backseat of the Alero pointed an assault rifle
out of the window and began firing multiple shots at the
officer. One of the bullets struck the passenger-side
windshield of Officer Gross's patrol vehicle. Officer
Gross stopped his vehicle, and the Alero drove away. Law
enforcement officers later found the Alero in a ditch at a
dead end still running with the front doors open.
Gross testified that he was familiar with Farmer's
vehicle and had assumed, immediately after the incident, that
Farmer was driving it when the shots were fired from the
backseat. Gross further testified that he could have been
mistaken and that he was unable to identify the person who
was driving. After reviewing surveillance video from the
convenience store, Officer Gross stated that Farmer was
wearing a green shirt and a watch and that McClure was
wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.
McClure, and JK, a minor, were arrested following the
incident. Farmer gave an interview to police wherein he
stated that the Alero is his vehicle and that he had been
driving the vehicle. He said that he was going to pull over
for the officer when JK unexpectedly started firing a weapon
from the backseat. Farmer denied that either he or McClure
shot at the officer. Farmer stated that once he stopped the
vehicle, he ran from his car on foot.
testified at trial that JK had been driving the Alero when
Farmer, who was in the backseat, fired the assault rifle at
Officer Gross. McClure stated that when the officer tried to
stop the Alero, Farmer told JK to "go, go." McClure
further testified that when JK reached a dead end, all three
occupants jumped out of the car and ran away. McClure stated
that he met up with Farmer later that night and that Farmer
told McClure that JK was going to take the blame as the
shooter and for McClure not to "snitch." According
to McClure, when he disagreed with Farmer's plan, McClure
felt threatened by Farmer. McClure turned himself in to the
authorities the next day.
also testified that he had given three interviews to police.
In his first two interviews, he said that he had lied and
told officers that Farmer was the driver and that JK was in
the backseat firing the assault rifle because that is what
Farmer told him to say, and he was afraid of Farmer. McClure
said that he received seven or eight letters from Farmer
while they were both in jail indicating that JK was going to
take the blame as the shooter, stating that there was no
evidence against Farmer or McClure, and instructing McClure
not to "snitch." McClure testified that he
requested a third police interview, and on February 2, 2018,
he told the police the truth that JK had been driving the
Alero and that Farmer was the person who had shot the assault
rifle from the backseat.
Taylor, a sergeant with the West Memphis Police Department,
testified that he was skeptical about McClure's third
interview, so he conducted a follow-up investigation. Taylor
said that he read the letters that Farmer had sent to
McClure and listened to a phone call Farmer made
from jail to McClure. Sergeant Taylor stated that the letters
and the phone call were consistent with McClure's story
that JK was taking the blame as the shooter for Farmer.
Sergeant Taylor testified that he watched gas-station
surveillance video that showed Farmer wearing a shiny watch
and McClure wearing a red hoodie. The sergeant also watched
Officer Gross's dashcam video that showed the shooter had
bare arms and a shiny object on his wrist. Sergeant Taylor
testified that after his follow-up investigation, he believed
Farmer was in the backseat firing the assault rifle at
State also presented evidence that sixteen shell casings from
an AK-47 assault rifle were collected at the scene. The
parties stipulated that no DNA, fingerprints, or other
scientific evidence was found on the shell casings. Seven DNA
samples were taken from the Alero. The state crime laboratory
tested the samples, and the results were inconclusive.
forth above, the jury convicted Farmer. This appeal followed.
third argument on appeal challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence to support his convictions. Due to double-jeopardy
concerns, we are required to review arguments regarding the
sufficiency of the evidence first. Morgan v. State,
2009 Ark. 257, at 6, 308 S.W.3d 147, 152. 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.
Id., 308 S.W.3d at 152. We affirm a conviction if
substantial evidence exists to support it. Id., 308
S.W.3d at 152. 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., 308
S.W.3d at 152. Circumstantial evidence may provide a basis to
support a conviction, but it must be consistent with the
defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any other
reasonable conclusion. Id. at 6-7, 308 S.W.3d at
152. Whether the evidence excludes every other hypothesis is
left to the jury to decide. Id. at 7, 308 S.W.3d at
152. The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury
and not the court. Id., 308 S.W.3d at 152.
was convicted of attempted capital murder, sixteen counts of
second-degree unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle,
and fleeing. A person commits capital murder if, with the
premeditated and deliberated purpose of causing the death of
any law enforcement officer, the person causes the death of
any person. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-10-101(a)(3) (Supp.
2017). A person also commits capital murder if the person
purposely discharges a firearm from a vehicle at a person or
at a vehicle he or she knows or has good reason to believe to
be occupied by a person and thereby causes the death of
another person under circumstances manifesting extreme
indifference to the value of human life. Ark. Code Ann.
§ 5-10-101(a)(10). A person commits criminal attempt to
commit capital murder if he or she purposely engages in
conduct that "[c]onstitutes a substantial step in a
course of conduct intended to culminate in the commission of
an offense." Ark. Code Ann. § 5-3- 201(a)(2) (Repl.
2013). A person commits unlawful discharge of a firearm from
a vehicle in the second degree if he or she recklessly
discharges a firearm from a vehicle in a manner that creates
a substantial risk of physical injury to another person or
property damage to a home, residence, or other occupiable
structure. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-74-107(b)(1) (Supp. 2017).
person knows that his or her immediate arrest or detention is
being attempted by a duly authorized law enforcement officer,
it is the lawful duty of the person to refrain from fleeing,
either on foot or by means of any vehicle or conveyance. Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-54-125(a) (Repl. 2016). Fleeing by means
of any vehicle or conveyance is considered a Class D felony
if, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to
the value of human life, a person purposely operates the
vehicle or conveyance in such a manner that creates a
substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to
another person. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-54-125(d)(2).
Finally, a person is an accomplice of another person in the
commission of an offense if, with the purpose of promoting or
facilitating the commission of an offense, the person