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Rayburn v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

October 3, 2019



          Brett D. Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virgina Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.


         Appellant Rodney Wayne Rayburn appeals an order of the Cleburne County Circuit Court convicting him of rape of a minor and sentencing him as a habitual offender to life imprisonment without parole. For reversal, Rayburn argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to dismiss for violating his right to a speedy trial and his motion to dismiss for prosecutorial delay. Rayburn also contends that the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting an Arkansas Department of Correction "pen pack" and an Arkansas Court of Appeals opinion as evidence of prior convictions. We affirm.

         I. Facts

         On July 9, 2015, Rayburn raped his eleven-year-old daughter, H.R., at a Cleburne County campsite. There, Rayburn took H.R. and her brother to the campground showers, sent her brother to a different shower stall, went into the same shower with H.R., locked the door, began washing her naked body, forced her to perform oral sex while on her knees, and attempted anal penetration.

         On July 13, 2015, the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division (CACD) received a call from the child-abuse hotline alleging that Rayburn had sexually abused H.R. on numerous occasions. The next day, on July 14, CACD Investigator Pamela Meeks conducted a forensic interview of H.R. During the interview, H.R. described in detail what Rayburn had done to her in the shower at the Cleburne County campsite. She also described other sex crimes committed by Rayburn against her at a rice mill in Arkansas County and at her home in Jefferson County where she and her family lived. Investigator Meeks sent notice to prosecutors in Arkansas and Jefferson Counties. The Arkansas State Police did not report the investigation to Cleburne County officials at that time. Arkansas County officers arrested Rayburn in August 2015.[1]

         The Cleburne County Sheriff's Office learned about the July 2015 rape in June 2016. Jennifer Osborne, an investigator with the Cleburne County Sheriff's Department, testified that she received a call from H.R.'s grandmother inquiring why she had not been notified by the sheriff's department about the Rayburn case. Osborne stated that at that time, she had received nothing from the hotline saying that she had allegations in her county. After that phone call, Osborne spoke with a CACD investigator and subsequently met with H.R., her mother, and her grandmother. Osborne stated that she went to the crime scene with the victim and photographed it. She stated that after her initial investigation in the fall of 2016, she went on vacation for a month and a half and presented the file to the [Cleburne County] prosecutor "[w]hen I came back."

         On April 18, 2017, the State filed a felony information in the Cleburne County Circuit Court and charged Rayburn with the rape of a child less than fourteen years of age, a violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103(a)(3)(A) (Supp. 2017). The Cleburne County Circuit Court issued an arrest warrant that same day. The arrest warrant was served on Rayburn on January 12, 2018. On February 9, 2018, after a two-day jury trial, the Cleburne County Circuit Court entered an order convicting Rayburn of rape and sentencing him to life imprisonment as a habitual offender. He timely filed his notice of appeal.

         II. Arguments on Appeal

         A. Speedy Trial

         For the first point on appeal, Rayburn argues that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to dismiss for violation of the right to a speedy trial. Specifically, he contends that the State violated his right to a speedy trial by holding his trial in Cleburne County in February 2018-more than two years after his August 2015 arrest in Arkansas County. On appeal, we conduct a de novo review to determine whether specific periods of time are excludable under our speedy-trial rules. E.g., Yarbrough v. State, 370 Ark. 31, 257 S.W.3d 50 (2007).

         Pursuant to Rule 28.1(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure (2018), any defendant charged with an offense and incarcerated in this state pursuant to conviction of another offense must be brought to trial within twelve months "from the time provided in Rule 28.2, excluding only such periods of necessary delay as are authorized in Rule 28.3." Rule 28.2(a) provides that "[t]he time for trial shall commence running from the date of arrest or service of summons." (Emphasis added.) If a defendant is not brought to trial within the requisite time, he or she is entitled to have the charges dismissed, and "[t]his discharge shall constitute an absolute bar to prosecution." Ark. R. Crim. P. 30.1(a). Once it has been shown that a trial was held after the speedy-trial period set out in Rule 28.1 has expired, the State bears the burden of proving that the delay was the result of the defendant's conduct or was otherwise justified. Miles v. State, 348 Ark. 544, 75 S.W.3d 677 (2002).

         In the present case, the following facts are relevant to our analysis. On February 5, 2018, before trial, Rayburn filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the State did not bring him to trial within twelve months of his arrest because he was arrested in August 2015 in Arkansas County. He argued that the twelve-month time period began in August 2015 and that his speedy-trial time expired in August 2016. He asked the circuit court to dismiss the charges. The next day, the circuit court held a hearing and denied Rayburn's speedy-trial motion.[2]

         Here, Rayburn's trial in Cleburne County occurred well within twelve months from the time of his arrest for the charge in Cleburne County, as required by Rule 28.1 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. On January 11, 2018, Rayburn was served with an arrest warrant for the rape that occurred in Cleburne County. Rayburn was brought to trial in Cleburne County on February 8-9, 2018. Because Rayburn was tried within twelve months of his arrest, we conclude that his ...

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