FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT
[NO. 16LCR-17-21], HONORABLE DAN RITCHEY, JUDGE
Goodwin Jones, for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Pamela Rumpz, Senior Asst Atty
Gen., for appellee.
B. SWITZER, Judge
July 26, 2016, while driving his in-laws truck, appellant
Michael Turner crossed the center line and hit Mary Nietchs
2005 Nissan Sentra in a head-on collision. Turner was
convicted by a Craighead County Circuit Court jury of battery
in the first degree. He was sentenced as a habitual offender
to thirty years in prison. On appeal, Turner argues the
circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed
verdict. We affirm.
Winfred Saffell, chief of police for the Lake City Police
Department, testified that he worked the Turner/Nietch
accident on July 26, 2016. He arrived six minutes after the
wreck and found the front of Nietchs car was "smashed
in." Nietch was unconscious and trapped inside the car.
Chief Saffell stated that the rear of Nietchs car was
hanging off the bridge embankment, and there were no brake
marks. According to Chief Saffell, a search warrant was
issued for a blood draw on Turner; this blood draw was
performed by NEA Hospital and submitted to the Arkansas State
Crime Lab. On February 16, 2017, Turner pleaded guilty in
district court to driving while intoxicated (DWI), first
offense, in connection with this incident.
Deborah Cook, an emergency-room doctor at St. Bernards
Hospital, testified that she treated Nietch after the wreck.
She was in critical condition when she arrived, was intubated
due to respiratory failure after the trauma, and was unable
to breathe effectively on her own. Dr. Cook explained Nietch
suffered a suspected depressed-scalp fracture in which the
encasing the brain was fractured and sunken in; a fracture of
one of her femur bones; blood behind her eardrum; and broken
bones in her lower arm. Dr. Cook said that due to the serious
nature of her injuries, Nietch was transferred to St. Vincent
Davis, a first responder from Lake City, testified that when
he arrived at the crash scene, he saw Turner lying
unconscious on the side of the road. Davis could tell there
had been a head-on collision.
Haynes, an officer with the Lake City Police Department,
testified he prepared the affidavit for the search warrant to
draw Turners blood. Turners blood was drawn by a registered
nurse; when the vials of blood were delivered to Haynes, he
sealed the vials in an evidence bag, transported the bag to
the police department, placed it in a locked refrigerator,
and mailed the vials to the crime lab the next day. Officer
Haynes also testified that Turner entered a guilty plea on
February 16, 2017, to DWI, first offense.
Westhafer, an analyst for the Arkansas State Crime Lab,
testified he found no alcohol in Turners blood, but the
blood tested positive for benzodiazepines, THC, and
methamphetamine. Westhafer explained that the investigating
officer did not request a quantitative analysis of the drugs
in Turners system, only a determination of whether there
were any drugs in his system. Westhafer said ...