Rehearing Denied January 8, 2020
FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CR-18-66],
HONORABLE MARCIA R. HEARNSBERGER, JUDGE
Firm, PLLC, by: Jason R. Davis, for appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Michael Zangari, Asst Atty Gen.,
Appellant Robert Gautreaux was convicted by a Garland County
jury of driving while intoxicated (fourth offense) and
reckless driving. Gautreaux appeals and challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence to support each conviction,
contending solely that the State failed to prove that he was
the driver of the vehicle. We affirm.
Appellants argument on appeal stems from his assertion that
the circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed
verdict, which is treated as a challenge to the sufficiency
of the evidence. Marshall v. State, 2017 Ark. 347,
532 S.W.3d 563. The test for determining the sufficiency of
the evidence is whether the verdict was supported by
substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id.
Substantial evidence is evidence of sufficient force and
character that it compels a reasonably certain conclusion
without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Id.
as to the credibility of the witnesses and resolutions of any
inconsistent evidence are left to be made by the jury.
Id. The jury is free to believe all or part of any
witnesss testimony. Id. In reviewing a challenge to
the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State and consider only evidence
that supports the verdict. Id.
morning of December 16, 2017, Arkansas State Trooper Ryan
Wingo responded to a single-vehicle rollover accident on
Mountain Pine Road in Garland County. The trooper observed a
damaged pickup truck on the shoulder of the road, and
appellant was at the rear of an ambulance. Appellant told the
trooper in detail what happened: he was the driver and sole
occupant of the pickup truck; appellant crossed into the
opposite lane of traffic and hit a ditch; the truck began to
roll and ultimately ended upright on the shoulder of the
road. The trooper smelled an odor of intoxicants emanating
from appellant, and appellants speech was slurred. After he
was given a portable breath test, appellant was arrested.
Appellant told a person on the scene to take care of the
pickup truck and ensure that it was towed. Appellant was
transported to the Garland County Detention Center, and a
breath test administered there indicated that appellant had a
.128 percent blood-alcohol content.
jury found appellant guilty, and this appeal resulted.
Appellant contends that there was no direct evidence to prove
that he was the driver and that the circumstantial evidence
did not exclude every other reasonable hypothesis than that
he was the driver. Appellant asserts that the States only
witness, the trooper, reasonably assumed that
appellant was the driver but that this cannot constitute
proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Appellant argues that for
this reason, the circuit court erred in denying his motions
for directed verdict and in allowing the case to go to the
jury. We disagree.
Evidence of guilt is not less simply because it is
circumstantial. Lawshea v. State, 2019 Ark. 68, 567
S.W.3d 853. Circumstantial evidence may provide a basis to
support a conviction if it is consistent with the defendants
guilt and inconsistent with any other reasonable conclusion.
Id. Whether circumstantial evidence excludes every
other reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence is a
question for the jury. Id. The
driving-while-intoxicated statute does not require law
enforcement officers to actually witness an intoxicated
person driving or exercising control of a vehicle. Cooley
v. State, 2011 Ark.App. 175, 2011 WL 714978;
Springston v. State, 61 Ark.App. 36, 962 S.W.2d 836
(1998). The State may prove by circumstantial evidence that a
person operated or was in actual physical control of a
vehicle. Wetherington v. State, 319 Ark. 37, 889
S.W.2d 34 (1994). One method for the State to prove that the
defendant was operating a motor vehicle is a confession by
the defendant that he was driving. See Azbill v.
State, 285 Ark. 98, 685 S.W.2d 162 (1985).
circumstantial evidence here was compelling. Appellant
admitted to the trooper that he was the driver and sole
occupant of this truck involved in a single-vehicle rollover
accident, he was the only person being assessed by medical
personnel at the scene, and he asked someone at the scene to
ensure that the truck was towed. The jury did not ...