FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST DIVISION [NO.
60CR-15-3339], HONORABLE LEON JOHNSON, JUDGE
R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller, Deputy
Public Defender, for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Asst Atty Gen.,
GRUBER, Chief Judge
October 15, 2015, appellant Adam Kleier was charged in the
Pulaski County Circuit Court with Class A felony arson. The
felony information alleged that appellant started a fire on
September 17, 2015, with the purpose of damaging a motel,
which caused damages greater than $10,000 but less than
$100,000. The information also alleged that appellant was a
habitual offender having committed more than one but less
than four felonies. The State filed an amended information on
October 16, 2017, which alleged that appellant was a habitual
offender with four or more prior felony convictions.
Following an April 2018 trial, a jury found appellant guilty
of Class A felony arson and sentenced him as a habitual
offender with four or more prior felony convictions to serve
forty-eight years imprisonment. For his sole point on
appeal, appellant contends that the circuit court abused its
discretion in finding that the States exhibits 14 and 15
were documentary proof that appellant had Class C felony
convictions from Missouri for offenses punishable by a
sentence of imprisonment in excess of one year as authorized
by Missouri law. We affirm.
Code Annotated section 5-4-502 provides that for
habitual-offender sentencing under Arkansas Code Annotated
section 5-4-501, the circuit court shall hear evidence of a
defendants prior felony convictions, determine the number of
convictions, and instruct the jury as to the number of prior
felony convictions along with the statutory sentencing range.
A conviction from another jurisdiction "constitutes a
previous conviction or finding of guilt of a felony if a
sentence of death or of imprisonment for a term in excess of
one (1) year was authorized under a law of the other
jurisdiction." Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-503 (Repl. 2013).
Proof of a foreign law is not a fact that must be proved at
trial. See, e.g., Greene v. State, 335 Ark.
1, 977 S.W.2d 192 (1998). Further, Arkansas Code Annotated
section 16-40-104 (Repl.1999)
provides that "[t]he courts of this state shall
take judicial knowledge of the laws of other states."
State bears the burden of proving a defendants prior
convictions for purposes of the habitual-offender statute.
See Williams v. State, 304 Ark. 279, 801
S.W.2d 296 (1990). A prior felony may be proved by any
evidence that satisfies the circuit court beyond a reasonable
doubt that the defendant was convicted or found guilty of the
prior felony. Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-504(a) (Repl. 2013). A
certified copy of the prior conviction is sufficient to
support a finding of a prior conviction. Ark. Code. Ann. §
the sentencing phase, appellants counsel objected to the
admission of States exhibits 14 and 15— both certified
copies of Class C felony convictions from Missouri— on
the basis that it could not be established from the exhibits
themselves that the authorized punishment range was in excess
of one year. Exhibit 14 was a certified copy of a 1998
conviction for stealing a motor vehicle for which appellant
was sentenced to twelve months incarceration in a county
jail, and exhibit 15 was a certified copy of a 1998
conviction for second-degree assault for which he was
sentenced to eight months incarceration in a county jail.
The State responded that it provided the circuit courts law
clerk with "RS 558.011," a Missouri statute
providing the ranges of punishment for the classes of
felonies and that the statute authorizes a sentence of up to
seven years for a Class C felony. The circuit court overruled
the objection, admitted both exhibits, and instructed the
jury that appellant had been previously convicted of four or
argument appellant raises on appeal was addressed in
Cherry v. State, 302 Ark. 462, 791 S.W.2d 354
(1990). Cherry, who was convicted of first-degree murder,
argued on appeal that a prior Missouri conviction should not
have been used against him during sentencing because
"the record of conviction did not show it carried a
sentence in excess of one year, as required by Ark. Code Ann.
§ 5-4-503 (1987)." Id. at 470-71, 791 S.W.2d at
358. There, the State offered a certified copy of a
conviction from Missouri to prove appellants status as a
habitual offender. The proof offered noted that appellant
pleaded guilty to "Forgery (Class C) (3 counts)."
Id. at 471, 791 S.W.2d at 359. In affirming the
circuit court, the supreme court took judicial notice that
under Missouri law, forgery is a Class C felony and that a
Class C felony is punishable by a term not to exceed seven
years under Mo. Ann. Stat. § 558.011(1)(3) (Vernon 1979). The
supreme court held that the convictions were properly
facts presented in this case, in contrast to Cherry,
demonstrate that the Missouri sentencing statute was cited by
the State to the circuit court. The State cited Mo. Rev.
Stat. § 558.011, told the court that a Class C felony
authorized a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment, and
informed the court it had given a copy of the statute to the
courts law clerk. Appellant does not assert that Mo.
Ann. Stat. ...