PATRICK L. PATTON APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE BRADLEY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 06CR-18-42]
HONORABLE SAM POPE, JUDGE.
Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Patrick Patton appeals from the December 5, 2018 Bradley
County Circuit Court order convicting him of criminal
mischief in the first degree, a Class C felony. The jury
sentenced Patton to a term of ninety-six months in the
Arkansas Department of Correction, and he was ordered to pay
$17, 000 in restitution. Patton's sole point on appeal is
that the circuit court abused its discretion by admitting
hearsay, in the form of an invoice, to prove the amount of
actual damages. We affirm.
evidence at trial established the following. Patton was taken
to the Bradley County Medical Center Emergency Room when he
sustained an injury earlier in the night while he was being
arrested. Patton testified he was dropped on his face, which
knocked out three of his teeth and required six stitches.
When a deputy went to the hospital to execute an arrest
warrant, Patton sat up, punched the wall, ripped down a
whiteboard, grabbed a computer and threw it down, and then
started punching out a glass cabinet.
Hall, an employee health nurse and in-service director at the
Bradley County Medical Center, testified that the computer
Patton damaged was a piece of specialized tele-medicine
equipment that could not be replaced by a regular laptop or
desktop computer. Hall explained that the device was part of
the "Arkansas Saves" program funded by the
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Hall
testified that she had overseen the program at the medical
center for roughly ten years and that UAMS pays part of her
salary because of it. Hall explained this program was
originally established through grants, but now the medical
center pays UAMS for the equipment yearly. Hall further
explained that the billing for this program does not go
through the medical center's typical financial process
because the medical center is billed strictly through UAMS.
prove the amount of damage caused, the State introduced an
invoice into evidence through Hall. The invoice was
transmitted by UAMS, and Hall submitted it to the medical
center. Hall testified she was authorized to submit it to the
medical center by the hospital administrator. The invoice
represented the actual replacement cost of $15, 746.97 paid
by the medical center to replace the tele-medicine device and
a document identifying the glass cabinet costing $1, 304.
Patton objected to the admission of the invoice, arguing that
the invoice was hearsay, but the court overruled his
appeal, Patton does not expressly challenge the sufficiency
of the evidence; rather, he challenges the circuit
court's finding that the State's proof of damages was
not inadmissible hearsay.
decision to admit or exclude evidence is within the sound
discretion of the circuit court, and we will not reverse a
circuit court's decision regarding the admission of
evidence absent a manifest abuse of discretion. Sitzmann
v. State, 2019 Ark.App. 78, at 3- 4, 569 S.W.3d 913,
916. Specifically, we have stated that an appellate court
will not reverse a circuit court's ruling on a hearsay
objection unless the appellant can demonstrate an abuse of
discretion. Id. An abuse of discretion is a high
threshold that does not simply require error in the circuit
court's decision but requires that the circuit court act
improvidently, thoughtlessly, or without due consideration.
Id. Additionally, this court will not reverse an
evidentiary ruling absent a showing of prejudice.
person commits the offense of criminal mischief in the first
degree if he or she purposely and without legal justification
destroys or causes damage to any property of another. Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-38-203 (Repl. 2013). It is a Class C
felony if the amount of actual damages is more than five
thousand dollars. Id. To prove the amount of
damages, the State introduced an invoice through Hall. Patton
argues this invoice is hearsay and that without this invoice,
the State failed to establish the amount of actual damages
necessary to support his conviction. We disagree.
803(6) of the Arkansas Rules of Evidence provides an
exception to the hearsay rule for the admission of business
records. That exception has seven requirements: (1) a record
or other compilation, (2) of acts or events, (3) made at or
near the time the act or event occurred, (4) by a person with
knowledge, or from information transmitted by a person with
knowledge, (5) kept in the course of regularly conducted
business, (6) which has a regular practice of recording such
information, (7) all as known by the testimony of the
custodian or other qualified witness. Ark. R. Evid.
that Hall's testimony was sufficient to lay the
foundation for the introduction of the invoice under the
business-records exception as proof of the damage caused.
Here, the invoice was a record of the actual amount of
damages incurred. The invoice was created about two months
after Patton destroyed the equipment. Hall had knowledge of
the replacement cost because UAMS submitted a bill yearly to
the hospital for the equipment and she had knowledge of the
process involved in paying for the program's equipment.
Hall was qualified to testify because she worked on behalf of
both UAMS and the medical center for ten years. Lastly, the
hospital administrator authorized her to submit invoices from
UAMS to the medical center.
not have any testimony regarding how the invoice was
prepared, and it appears that Hall did not personally prepare
the invoice, but these facts do not prevent the admission of
the record into evidence. We have held in laying a foundation
for admission of business records at trial, the sponsor
witness need not have actual knowledge of the actual creation
of the document itself, as such personal knowledge of its
creation goes to the weight rather than the admissibility of
the evidence. See Metzgar v. Rodgers, 83 Ark.App.
354, 376, 128 S.W.3d 5, 19 (2003). Hall testified that she
had been working on behalf of ...