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Hendrix v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

November 21, 2019

ROY A. HENDRIX APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE GRANT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 27CR-2017-189-1] HONORABLE CHRIS E WILLIAMS, JUDGE

          Gregory K. Crain, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Joseph Karl Luebke, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          SHAWN A. WOMACK, Associate Justice

         Roy Hendrix bound his mother, beat her head with a hammer, and drove away in her car. Though left for dead, Judy Hendrix survived. Hendrix was subsequently convicted of attempted capital murder, kidnapping, and theft of property. He appeals only the denial of his motion for continuance to obtain an independent mental evaluation. We affirm.

         I.

         Because a detailed account of the underlying case is unnecessary to resolve the sole issue on appeal, our factual discussion will be brief. On October 29, 2017, Hendrix was asked to leave the halfway house where he lived after showing up to work while intoxicated. He was dropped off at his mother's house in Leola that afternoon. Judy, who lived alone, was not home and was not expecting her son. Before Judy returned that evening, Hendrix consumed a bottle of vodka, two joints of marijuana, and some methamphetamine. He insists he cannot recall the rest of the evening. His recorded confession to police suggests otherwise. Hendrix told police that after he explained why he had been kicked out of the halfway house, Judy refused to allow him to live with her. He did not provide a detailed account of what happened next, but simply confessed that "[he] did it."

         Later that night, a Leola constable conducted a welfare check on Judy at her granddaughter's behest. Judy's car was missing but the lights were on. The constable discovered Judy lying in her living room floor. She was bound at the ankle and bleeding from her head. She had sustained multiple blunt force head injuries, including several skull and facial fractures and bleeding in and around her brain. Despite the severity of her injuries, Judy survived. But she was unable to recall what happened.

         Hendrix was soon arrested. He gave police the keys to Judy's car and told them where it was located. A hammer, vodka bottles, Judy's cell phone, and Hendrix's cell phone were inside the car. Judy's hair and blood were on the hammer. Hendrix was charged with kidnapping, aggravated robbery, attempted capital murder, and theft of property.

         Prior to trial, Hendrix sought and received fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations. Both examinations revealed that he suffered from alcohol, cannabis, and methamphetamine use disorders. But he was ultimately deemed fit to stand trial and capable of being held criminal responsible for his conduct. On the day before trial, Hendrix sought a continuance to seek an independent criminal responsibility examination. The circuit court found that he had not acted diligently and denied the request. A jury subsequently convicted Hendrix of attempted capital murder, kidnapping, and theft of property. He was respectively sentenced to two consecutive life terms and a ten thousand dollar fine. It is from this conviction that he directly appeals to this court.

         II.

         For his sole point on appeal, Hendrix challenges the denial of his motion for continuance filed the day before trial. He sought additional time to obtain an independent mental evaluation after the state hospital determined he was capable of being held criminally responsible. Hendrix admitted he had not sought an independent examination because he was waiting to see what the state hospital's report would hold. The circuit court found that Hendrix had not been diligent and refused to grant the continuance.

         The decision to deny a continuance is within the sound discretion of the circuit court and will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of that discretion. See Brown v. State, 374 Ark. 341, 347, 288 S.W.3d 226, 231 (2008). Hendrix's burden on appeal is two-fold: he must establish that the court abused its discretion and show that the decision resulted in prejudice amounting to a denial of justice. Id. Prejudice is not presumed in this context. See King v. State, 317 Ark. 293, 301, 877 S.W.2d 583, 588 (1994). Hendrix fails on both points.

         A continuance should be granted only upon a showing of good cause. Ark. R. Crim. P. 27.3 (2017). In considering a motion for continuance, the court should "tak[e] into account not only the request or consent of the prosecuting attorney or defense counsel, but also the public interest in prompt disposition of the case." Id. The court should also consider: (1) the diligence of the movant; (2) the probable effect of the testimony at trial; (3) the likelihood of procuring the attendance of the witness in the event of a postponement; and (4) the filing of an affidavit, stating not only what facts the witness would prove but also that the movant believes them to be true. See Creed v. State, 372 Ark. 221, ...


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