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Russell v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

December 11, 2019

Brian RUSSELL, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

Page 207

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 208

          APPEAL FROM THE ASHLEY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 02CR-18-30], HONORABLE ROBERT BYNUM GIBSON, JR., JUDGE

         Robert E. Tellez, North Little Rock, for appellant.

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

         OPINION

         WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge

          Appellant Brian Russell was convicted by an Ashley County Circuit Court jury of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to serve an aggregate term of seventy years’ incarceration in the Arkansas Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that the circuit court abused its discretion by excluding from evidence (1) photographs of certain items found in the victim’s purse and (2) lay-witness testimony regarding the victim’s life and mental state. We affirm.

         Appellant testified that on January 13, 2018, he and the victim, Shannon Ridener, went on a blind date. He stated that after purchasing liquor, Shannon agreed to go to his home to watch a movie. Appellant testified that he fell asleep during the movie and was awakened by a "bang." He further testified that upon seeing Shannon’s body on the floor with a gunshot wound to her head, he exclaimed, "Oh, my god, what did you do that for?" and then proceeded to get rid of her body as fast as he could.

          Officer David Crutchfield of the Monticello Police Department testified that at approximately 1:45 a.m. on January 14, 2018, he came into contact with appellant and ultimately took him into custody on a charge of driving while intoxicated. Officer Crutchfield stated that at the time of the arrest, appellant had blood on his hands and clothes; however, appellant explained that the blood was from a deer he had killed. David Tumey with the Arkansas State Police testified that when he searched appellant’s vehicle, he discovered a black trash bag containing a pair of women’s shoes. Additionally, Bo Norris with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division testified that upon searching appellant’s house, a large stain was found on the carpet; he noted that the stain appeared to have some type of cleaning product on it.

         Investigator Norris testified that Shannon’s body was located near the Beech Creek bridge.[1] He further indicated that it was a thirty-six-mile drive from appellant’s house to where Shannon’s purse was found; it was an additional eleven miles from where her purse was discovered to where Shannon’s body was found.

          On appeal, appellant concedes his convictions for felon in possession of a firearm and abuse of a corpse; however, he contends

Page 209

that he did not commit murder. Appellant contends that Shannon committed suicide and that the circuit court abused its discretion by excluding evidence ...


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