FROM THE CRAIGHEAD C O U NT Y C IRC U IT C O U R T, WESTERN
DISTRICT [NO. 16JCR-17-995] HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE
Benjamin Bristow, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Michael L. Yarbrough, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
LARRYD. VAUGHT, Judge
Rankin was charged with committing a terroristic act and
first-degree murder. Rankin filed a motion to sever the
charges, which was denied by the Craighead County Circuit
Court. A jury found Rankin guilty of first-degree murder and
sentenced him to twenty-five years' imprisonment. The
jury acquitted Rankin of the terroristic-act charge. After
the circuit court entered a sentencing order, Rankin
appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in
denying his motion to sever. We affirm.
pretrial hearing on Rankin's motion to sever the charges,
the State argued that joinder of the charges for committing a
terroristic act and first-degree murder was proper because
they constituted a single scheme or plan. More specifically,
the State contended that on the evening of July 6,
Rankin's girlfriend and Dewayne Manning were smoking
methamphetamine from a pipe at Rankin's home. When
Rankin's girlfriend dropped the pipe, Manning became
upset, which led to an argument between Rankin and Manning.
According to the State, after Manning left Rankin's home,
Rankin stole a 9mm gun from his sister's vehicle, went to
Manning's home, knocked on the front door, exchanged
words with Manning, and fired four shots into Manning's
home. Early the next morning, Manning went to Rankin's
house and threw a brick through a window and fled. In
response, Rankin left his house with the gun in pursuit of
Manning. Rankin found Manning near his house carrying an ax.
Rankin shot and killed Manning.
for Rankin argued that pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal
Procedure 22, he had a right to sever the charges because the
two incidents were not a part of a single scheme or plan. The
defense contended that the incident on the evening of July 6
was a separate event from the incident that occurred the next
morning. The defense argued that the State sought to join the
two charges in order to bootstrap a weaker case to another
case in order to secure two convictions. The defense further
argued that Rankin was prejudiced by having the two charges
joined because he was forced to "juggle" two
defenses: denial of the terroristic act and justification for
first-degree murder. He also claimed that his right to remain
silent on the terroristic-act charge was jeopardized by his
desire to testify to support his claim of self-defense on the
first-degree murder charge.
circuit court denied Rankin's motion to sever, stating,
There's more to this story than somebody came over and
threw a brick in a window. There's more to it. It's
the getting of the gun. It's intent. Was there intent,
motive. There's a lot more to this story than somebody
came up and threw a brick in a window.
court further stated that the "the same witnesses would
have to testify to all of this information" and that the
events occurred within a short proximity of time.
"We're talking about 12 hours" and
"[a]pparently there were ongoing things that were
happening during that 12 hours." On appeal, Rankin
challenges the court's denial of his motion to sever.
to grant a defendant's motion for severance of two or
more offenses lies within the circuit court's discretion,
and this court will not reverse that decision absent an abuse
of discretion. Turner v. State, 2011 Ark. 111, at
3-4, 380 S.W.3d 400, 402 (citing Dillard v. State,
333 Ark. 418, 423, 971 S.W.2d 764, 766 (1998); Passley v.
State, 323 Ark. 301, 915 S.W.2d 248 (1996)).
Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 22.2 provides:
Whenever two (2) or more offenses have been joined for trial
solely on the ground that they are of the same or similar
character and they are not part of a single scheme or plan,
the defendant shall have a right to a severance of the
Ark. R. Crim. P. 22.2(a) (2019). A defendant has a right to a
severance when two or more offenses have been joined solely
on the ground that they are of the same or similar character.
Harrison v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 580, at 6, 533
S.W.3d 146, 150. Otherwise, granting or refusing a severance
is within the discretion of the circuit court. Id.,
533 S.W.3d at 150. A severance motion may be denied if the
two offenses were ...