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Butler v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 13, 2019

Garland BUTLER, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT [NO. 66FCR-18-657], HONORABLE JAMES O. COX, JUDGE

          Terry Goodwin Jones, for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Michael L. Yarbrough, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge

          A Sebastian County Circuit Court jury convicted appellant Garland Butler of three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.[1] He was sentenced by the court as a habitual offender to twenty-five years’ imprisonment.[2] He appeals his convictions and argues that the court erred when it failed to grant his motion for a mistrial. We affirm.

         Appellant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, so only a brief recitation of the facts is necessary. Appellant was arrested on May 20, 2018, after the car he was driving was stopped and searched by Officer Keith Shelby of the Fort Smith Police Department for facing the wrong way on the street.[3] Appellant did not own the car, but he consented to its search. Officer Shelby found a used meth pipe on the driver’s side of the car, another one in the backseat floorboard, and two sets of digital scales with residue on them in a backpack located in the backseat of the car. Appellant admitted that the backpack belonged to him but denied ownership of the pipes. He was subsequently placed in custody. The backseat occupant, Donald Neal, was also arrested for possessing the pipe located near him. Once at the jail, appellant claimed ownership of all the items found in the car and stated that Neal knew nothing about them. Neal was then released. Appellant was charged as a habitual offender with four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

          Appellant’s jury trial took place on April 19, 2019. During rebuttal, the prosecutor stated the following:

The evidence is clear in this case. And at this point, it’s not relevant and you’re not to consider why the defendant did what he did, or you know, if it makes sense that he would speed away over, you know, whatever reason. We’re not alleging that he behaves like a law-abiding citizen, you know. He is a criminal. He behaves like a criminal. He committed these crimes. And we have proven it. This is really a Norman Rockwell painting, this case is so simple, and the defense is trying to make it seem like a Picasso or a Salvador Dali, which it isn’t.
So we ask you to go back there and be the conscience of the community, use

Page 419

your common sense and do what you promised to do, evaluate the evidence, follow the law, and do the right thing for ...

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