Jackson v. State, CR 07-1016.

CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas
Citation290 S.W.3d 574
Docket NumberNo. CR 07-1016.,CR 07-1016.
PartiesStanley D. JACKSON, Appellant, v. STATE of Arkansas, Appellee.
Decision Date08 January 2009
290 S.W.3d 574
Stanley D. JACKSON, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee.
No. CR 07-1016.
Supreme Court of Arkansas.
January 8, 2009.
Rehearing Denied February 12, 2009.

[290 S.W.3d 576]

Janice W. Vaughn, Arkansas Public Defender Comm'n, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

ELANA CUNNINGHAM WILLS, Justice.


At approximately 1:45 a.m. on January 22, 2005, Dumas Police Department Investigator

290 S.W.3d 577

Chuck Blevins received a call reporting a shooting at Debbie Dean's, a restaurant in Dumas. Upon arriving at Debbie Dean's, Blevins found the body of Herman Cobb, Jr., on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head. After the coroner arrived, Blevins also discovered that Cobb had also been shot in the thigh. There were indications that a fight had taken place in the restaurant, as well.

Later in the day on January 22, 2005, appellant Stanley Jackson and his brother, Damon Freeman (who was also known as Damon Jackson), turned themselves in to the police. After both men gave statements to the police, Jackson was arrested and charged with capital murder.1 In March of 2007, Jackson was tried and convicted of capital murder, and a Desha County jury sentenced him to life imprisonment. Jackson filed a timely notice of appeal, and now raises six points for reversal. We find no error and affirm.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

In his first argument on appeal, Jackson contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict.2 We treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. See Wertz v. State, 374 Ark. 256, 287 S.W.3d 528 (2008); Stephenson v. State, 373 Ark. 134, 282 S.W.3d 772 (2008). The test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Wertz, supra. Evidence is substantial if it is of sufficient force and character to compel reasonable minds to reach a conclusion and pass beyond suspicion and conjecture. Id. On appeal, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, considering only that evidence that supports the verdict. Id.

One commits capital murder if, "with the premeditated and deliberated purpose of causing the death of another person, [he] causes the death of any person[.]" Ark. Code Ann. § 5-10-101(a)(4) (Repl.2006 & Supp.2003). This court has said that "[p]remeditated and deliberated murder occurs when it is the killer's conscious object to cause death, and he forms that intention before he acts and as a result of a weighing of the consequences of his course of conduct." Daniels v. State, 373 Ark. 536, 285 S.W.3d 205 (2008); Carmichael v. State, 340 Ark. 598, 602, 12 S.W.3d 225, 228 (2000). See also O'Neal v. State, 356 Ark. 674, 158 S.W.3d 175 (2004) (defining deliberation as "weighing in the mind of the consequences of a course of conduct, as distinguished from acting upon a sudden impulse without the exercise of reasoning powers").

This court has also noted that premeditation and deliberation may be formed in an instant. Winston v. State, 372 Ark. 19, 269 S.W.3d 809 (2007); McFarland v.

290 S.W.3d 578

State, 337 Ark. 386, 989 S.W.2d 899 (1999). Moreover, while intent can rarely be proven by direct evidence, a jury can infer premeditation and deliberation from circumstantial evidence, such as the type and character of the weapon used; the nature, extent, and location of wounds inflicted; and the conduct of the accused. Fudge v. State, 341 Ark. 759, 20 S.W.3d 315 (2000).

The facts introduced at trial indicated that Cobb and Jackson's brother, Damon Freeman,3 were embroiled in a fight in the early morning hours of January 22, 2005. The State's first witness, Nick Ward, testified that he and Cobb had been riding around that night and decided to stop and get something to eat at Debbie Dean's. About five or ten minutes after they ordered their food, Jackson and Freeman came in; Jackson left, but Freeman ordered something to eat. Freeman and Cobb began to argue about something and started fighting. Jackson came back in the restaurant and asked who was trying to fight his brother. At the same time, Ward said, Jackson pulled a gun out of his pants. As Jackson began to fire the weapon, Ward "bumped" him, and Jackson shot out a light fixture.

Ward testified that Jackson fired the gun again, hitting Cobb in the leg. Ward further testified that Cobb stated, "You shot me, cuz." At some point after this shot, Jackson dropped the gun, but Ward testified that Jackson must have picked it back up again because he was the next person whom Ward observed with the gun. Freeman and Cobb continued wrestling, and Freeman slammed Cobb to the ground. Ward and Freeman both asked Jackson not to shoot Cobb. However, despite their pleas, Ward said that Jackson "just shot" and Cobb "just laid back down, fell back down." Ward stated that perhaps a minute or two elapsed between the second and third shots. He also asserted that Cobb never reached for the gun and that he was watching the altercation the entire time. On redirect examination, Ward identified Jackson as the man who shot Cobb.

Lee Jones testified that he was also present at Debbie Dean's that night. Jones said that he was placing an order for some food alongside Freeman when Freeman and Cobb began arguing. Freeman stepped back from the counter, hit Cobb in the face, and started fighting with him. Jones was attempting to break up the fight when Jackson came in and drew his gun. Jones saw Jackson aim the gun at Cobb and fire, and then Jones ran behind the counter where he heard another shot. After the shooting ended, Jones stood up and saw Jackson and Freeman standing in front of the door, and he saw Cobb "laid out in the floor." On cross-examination, Jones stated that the only person he saw in the restaurant that night with a gun was Jackson.

Other witnesses described a similar scene. Latoya Thomas testified that Freeman and Cobb were fighting, and then shots were fired. She said that the first shot took out the light; the second shot hit Cobb in the leg; and "the third shot I was out of Debbie Dean's." Thomas verified that Jackson was the one who shot Cobb in the leg, and she did not see anyone else with a gun. She also stated that she heard Ward begging Jackson not to shoot Cobb again.

Anthony Harrell, who also observed the fight between Freeman and Cobb, saw Jackson enter the restaurant with a gun and begin shooting at Cobb. After the first two shots, Harrell ducked behind the

290 S.W.3d 579

counter. While behind the counter, Harrell heard Cobb mumble, "Please don't shoot me" or "Please don't kill me." Shortly after that, Harrell heard the third shot.

Debbie Dean, the owner of the restaurant, testified that Cobb came in the restaurant that night and ordered some food. Some time later, Freeman came in, and the two men began fighting. She said that some customers tried to break up the fight, and Harrell, her fiancé, hollered at her to call the police. During the fight, she saw Jackson enter the restaurant, pull out a gun, and shoot up at the ceiling. After he shot out the light, she got down on the floor in the kitchen. She did not see anyone else with a gun that evening. Dean did say, however, that she heard Cobb mumble Freeman's name.

Kevin Knight, a police officer with the Dumas Police Department, testified that he interviewed Jackson as part of the investigation of the shooting.4 After Jackson was read his Miranda rights, he gave a statement to Knight on January 23, 2005, in which he said that he was standing outside of Debbie Dean's when he heard someone say there was a fight inside. Upon entering the building, he saw his brother on the floor. Jackson said that Cobb pulled a gun, and Jackson and Cobb "tussled" over the gun. The first shot took out the lights, and after the second shot, Jackson said, he left the building.

In his statement, Jackson contended that he had "no intentions on anybody dying," and he was "just defending [himself] to keep [Cobb] from shooting [him]." Jackson then told Knight that the gun should still be on the floor of the restaurant if no one picked it up. Jackson denied that Freeman ever had the gun. When Knight asked why he turned himself in, Jackson replied that he felt like it would only get worse if he ran.

Jackson gave a second statement to Knight on January 24, 2005. In this statement, Jackson admitted that he killed Cobb, but he claimed it was not intentional and that the gun had only gone off as they were "tussling" over it. In this statement, Jackson said that he "snatched" the gun from Cobb as Cobb was falling to the ground, and that he ran outside and threw the gun in a ditch.

Dr. Frank Peretti, the Associate Medical Examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, testified that Cobb suffered from two bullet wounds: the first appeared to have been fired from some distance away and traveled through his thigh without hitting any major blood vessels; the second entered Cobb's head above his left ear, traveled downward through the brain, and lodged in the bone of the skull. Dr. Peretti opined that, given the location and trajectory of the gunshot wound, it would not have been possible for the injury to have occurred if Cobb had been "tussling" over the gun by pulling or pushing it back and forth in front of him at chest level.

On appeal, Jackson argues that the above evidence "does no more than prove that when [he] entered Debbie Dean's and saw his brother and [Cobb] fighting, he pulled a gun and shot out the lights." He concedes that the evidence demonstrates that he shot Cobb in the leg, but he argues that there was no evidence showing that he possessed the premeditation and deliberation necessary to support a capital murder conviction.

However, it is clear that the State presented sufficient evidence to defeat Jackson's directed-verdict motion. No witness testified that they saw...

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