CALVIN C. WILLIAMS, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-18-1995] HONORABLE HERBERT WRIGHT, JUDGE
William R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller,
Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Calvin Williams was charged with six felony counts following
an altercation with his girlfriend. The Pulaski County Circuit
Court, sitting as the trier of fact, found him guilty on five
of those counts. On appeal, Williams argues that the circuit
court should have granted his motion to dismiss as to one of
his convictions--that for aggravated assault on a family or
household member. We find no error and affirm.
treat a motion to dismiss at a bench trial like a motion for
directed verdict at a jury trial; it is considered a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Hamrick v.
State, 2019 Ark.App. 298, 577 S.W.3d 734. We affirm a
circuit court's denial of the motion if there is
substantial evidence, either direct or circumstantial, to
support the verdict. Id. Substantial evidence is
evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion one way or
the other beyond suspicion and conjecture. Id. On
appeal, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to
the verdict, considering only evidence supporting the
verdict. Id. Moreover, we do not weigh the evidence
presented at trial, as that is a matter for the fact-finder,
nor do we assess the credibility of the witnesses.
appeals his conviction for aggravated assault on a family or
household member. To commit this offense, Williams had to
purposely engage in conduct that created a substantial danger
of death or serious physical injury to a family or household
member under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference
to the value of human life. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-26-306(a)(1) (Repl. 2013). His argument on appeal is that
the State failed to prove that he engaged in conduct that
created a substantial danger of death or serious physical
injury. We therefore examine the testimony
presented at trial to determine if sufficient evidence
supports Williams's aggravated-assault conviction.
Willingham, the victim of the assault, was Williams's
girlfriend. She and Williams had been in a relationship for a
year and a half. On the day of the altercation, Williams
went to Willingham's home and threatened violence if she
did not let him inside. Willingham let Williams into her
home. Once inside, he brandished a pocket knife, held the
knife to the chest of her two-year-old son and threatened to
kill him, and told Willingham that her children would witness
something bad happening to her. He was true to his threat. In
the presence of her children, Williams began punching
Willingham repeatedly in her face, eyes, and ears. Because he
had the knife in his hand while he was punching her, she
sustained a cut on her ear.
appeal, Williams does not dispute that he punched Willingham
in the face or caused her left ear to be cut. Instead, he
argues that the State failed to prove that he engaged in
conduct that created a substantial danger of death or serious
physical injury. In making this argument, he focuses on the
statutory phrase "serious physical injury."
Williams acknowledges that "serious physical
injury" is defined in Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-1-102(21) (Repl. 2013) as "physical injury that
creates a substantial risk of death or that causes protracted
disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, or loss or
protracted impairment of the function of any bodily member or
organ." He notes, however, that the word
"substantial" is not defined in the statute.
Williams cites cases from New Mexico and Washington to argue
in favor of a "quantitative definition" of the word
that would require evidence of something "of ample or
considerable quality or amount." Applying his favored
definition, Williams contends that none of Willingham's
injuries were "substantial." We are not persuaded
by his arguments.
Arkansas caselaw, Williams did not have to cause death or
serious physical injury to be convicted of aggravated assault
on a family or household member. In Wooten v.
State, 32 Ark.App. 198, 201, 799 S.W.2d 560, 562
(1990), this court explained that our aggravated-assault
statute requires only the "creation of
substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to
another person." (Emphasis added.) In Nelson v.
State, 84 Ark.App. 373, 141 S.W.3d 900 (2004), we
affirmed a conviction for aggravated assault on a family or
household member when the appellant grabbed a shotgun and
pointed it at his family but was disarmed before using it. In
Williams v. State, 96 Ark.App. 277, 241 S.W.3d 290
(2006), this court affirmed a conviction for aggravated
assault on a family or household member when the appellant
attempted to hit the victims with her automobile. We rejected
the argument that the testimony showing that she only
attempted to hit the victims with the car did not constitute
substantial evidence that she engaged in conduct that created
a substantial danger of death or serious injury to the
victims. See also Schwede v. State, 49 Ark.App. 87,
89, 896 S.W.2d 454, 455 (1995); Johnson v. State,
132 Ark. 128, 130, 200 S.W. 982, 982 (1918) (holding that
"the act of drawing a pistol, if accompanied by threats
evidencing an intention to use it on the person threatened,
constitutes an assault").
Williams engaged in conduct sufficient to show that he
committed an aggravated assault on Willingham. He repeatedly
punched her in the head and face while brandishing an open
pocket knife, which can certainly create a substantial danger
of death or serious physical injury. Viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the State, we hold that
substantial evidence supports Williams's conviction, and
we therefore affirm.
final matter, Williams notes that there is a scrivener's
error on his sentencing order. Admittedly, the circuit court
entered an order reflecting that one count of second-degree
domestic battery was nolle prossed, when in fact the circuit
court granted Williams's motion to dismiss that count.
The circuit court is free to correct a clerical error to have
the judgment speak the truth. Jefferson v. State,
2017 Ark.App. 536, 532 S.W.3d 593. We therefore affirm
Williams's conviction but remand to the circuit court
with instructions to correct the sentencing order. See,
e.g., Carter v. State, 2019 Ark.App. 57, at 17,
568 S.W.3d 788, 798.
remanded with instructions to ...