FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16JCR-17-461] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE.
Goodwin Jones, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, JUDGE.
Noah Wright appeals his conviction by a Craighead County
Circuit Court jury of first-degree battery. He argues that
the circuit court erred when it relied on Arkansas Rule of
Evidence 403 (2018) to unfairly limit his cross-examination
of a material witness. We affirm.
April 7, 2017, appellant was arguing with his girlfriend,
Tiffany Painter, after she had returned to appellant's
residence with her child after picking her up from the home
of her estranged husband, Danny Painter. While arguing,
appellant threw Tiffany down by the throat, demanded that she
leave, and made various threats toward Danny. Danny responded
to a phone call from Tiffany, picked Tiffany and their child
up on the road as they were walking away from appellant's
residence, and returned with them to appellant's
residence to pick up Tiffany's clothes.
arriving, Tiffany and appellant resumed arguing. Danny exited
the vehicle and stepped between the two of them. Although
there is contradictory evidence as to who threw the first
punch, at some point, appellant struck at Danny with a knife
he had clenched in his hand, causing the knife to slash
Danny's neck. After telling other individuals inside the
residence that he had cut Danny, appellant left the premises
and disposed of the knife.
8, 2017, a criminal information was filed charging appellant
with battery; aggravated assault on a family or household
member; commercial burglary; theft of property (value greater
than $1, 000 but equal to or less than $5, 000); and
first-degree criminal mischief (damage less than or equal to
$1, 000), all as a habitual offender, related to two
incidents that allegedly occurred within a few hours on April
7-8, 2017. At a hearing on September 4, 2018, the charges of
aggravated assault and battery related to the altercation
with Danny were severed by the circuit court for separate
trial, which was held on September 6, 2018.
trial, during the direct examination of Danny, the State
introduced his medical records, and those records were
admitted into evidence without objection. Danny confirmed
that he was familiar with the records and subsequently
testified regarding his medical diagnosis-specifying his
injury as "a 10-centimeter laceration deep to the left
upper neck from post-articular to anterior to left angle of
mandible with rapid bleeding." The State also asked
Danny to comment on his wounds and the effects of specific
cross-examination, appellant's attorney attempted to
question Danny about whether (1) he had been drinking beer on
the night of the incident; (2) a blood test was performed at
the hospital; and (3) he was familiar with the results of any
such blood-alcohol test contained in his medical records that
had previously been admitted into evidence. Appellant's
attorney claimed that he wanted Danny to read to the jury the
results of a blood test from the hospital regarding his
State objected, arguing that the records had been admitted
and that any personal interpretation of what the report
states would be inappropriate. The State suggested that the
only reason to read any part of the report would be to lead
the jury to draw inferences that would be based on facts not
in evidence, associations, and inferences for which no
foundation had been laid.
attorney responded that he should be allowed to question
Danny about the records because Danny had already testified
regarding the medical evaluations contained therein and that
he should be allowed to testify regarding the results of the
"tox screen." Appellant's attorney reiterated
that he simply wanted Danny to read the report.
Appellant's attorney further argued that he should be
able to utilize the admitted medical records to impeach
Danny's testimony about his level of intoxication at the
time of the incident.
circuit court denied his request, sustained the State's
objection on the basis of jury confusion, and prohibited that
line of questioning relying on Arkansas Rule of Evidence 403,
finding that the report had been admitted and was the best
evidence of what it said. The circuit court stated, "I
think that even if it is relevant or whatever, that would be
so prejudicial and misleading to them-unless there is
somebody on there that has some medical
background-they're not going to be able to figure out
what this means" in reference to a listing of
"125" in the report ...