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Heard v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

December 11, 2019

Derrick HEARD, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

Page 216

          APPEAL FROM THE JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 34CR-17-109], HONORABLE HAROLD S. ERWIN, JUDGE

         Ronald L. Davis, Jr., Law Firm, PLLC, Little Rock, by: Ronald L. Davis, Jr., for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Brad Newman, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

          Appellant Derrick Heard appeals an order from the Jackson County Circuit Court denying his motion to transfer his charges to the juvenile division of the circuit court and denying his request for extended juvenile jurisdiction designation (EJJ). We affirm.

         A prosecuting attorney has the discretion to charge a juvenile, sixteen years of age or older, in the juvenile or criminal division of circuit court if the juvenile has allegedly engaged in conduct that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony.

Page 217

Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-318(c)(1) (Repl. 2015). Given that discretion and the felony nature of the charges, the State charged Heard as an adult in the Jackson County Circuit Court with capital murder, attempted capital murder, breaking or entering, theft of property, and possession of a handgun by a minor stemming from events that took place on June 12, 2017, when Heard was sixteen years old.

          On May 8, 2018, Heard filed a motion to transfer to the juvenile division of the circuit court and requested a hearing. At the hearing, the forensic psychologist who had earlier evaluated Heard to determine his fitness to proceed, Melissa Dannacher, testified that Heard had been diagnosed with ADHD and conduct disorder. She opined that during his childhood, Heard experienced family instability. Dannacher stated that she believed Heard feigned psychotic symptomatology during the evaluation and that he was competent to proceed. In the written report, Dannacher opined that at the time of the alleged offenses, Heard was not experiencing an impairing mental disease or defect and that he was able to appreciate the criminality of his behavior and had the capacity to conform his behavior to the law. The examiner testified that Heard possessed a basic understanding of the criminal proceedings against him and possessed the capacity to rationally assist with his defense. As a result of Dannacher’s testimony, the court found Heard competent to proceed.

          Byron Bishop, a program manager with the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services, testified that the agency could offer Heard educational services, medication-management services, and individual and group counseling.

          Heard’s mother, Gwendolyn Jarrett, testified that early in his life Heard had difficulty learning, which had caused him embarrassment and that he had behavioral issues. Jarrett explained that Heard had been prescribed medication for "posttraumatic depression" since kindergarten but that he had been off his medication since 2013. Jarrett testified that Heard was "immature for his age" and that when he was young "everything just hurt him ... hurt his feelings." Jarrett explained that when Heard was in seventh grade, he was arrested for theft of property; however, Jarrett stated that when Heard’s son was born in February 2017, her son began making better decisions and that having a child changed him for the better.

          Patrick McGee, Heard’s juvenile probation officer, testified that he began supervising Heard in 2015 after Heard’s theft-of-property conviction. McGee recounted that while under his supervision, Heard picked up more charges, including commercial burglary, theft of property (including firearms), and criminal mischief. McGee stated that Heard’s probation had been revoked.

         The court heard testimony regarding the events of June 12, 2017, from officer Scott Pillow of the Arkansas State Police. Pillow testified that when Sergeant Shane Rogers’s body-camera footage was examined, it showed that numerous shots were fired at both Lieutenant Patrick Weatherford and Sergeant Rogers. Weatherford was struck one time and died from his wounds. Pillow testified that the surveillance-camera video of the Newport High School parking lot shows a person wearing black slides, white socks, a reddish shirt, and light gray or denim shorts riding a bicycle and holding a gun. Pillow testified that the video shows Weatherford pulling up in his patrol car and ...


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