Patrick Ragsdale v. State of Arkansas

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ar04-034

ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS
NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION

 

DIVISION IV

PATRICK RAGSDALE

APPELLANT

v.

STATE OF ARKANSAS

APPELLEE

 

CACR04-34

NOVEMBER 17, 2004

APPEAL FROM CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

[NO. CR98-938]

HONORABLE VICTOR LAMONT HILL, CIRCUIT JUDGE

AFFIRMED

     

Andree Layton Roaf, Judge

Appellant Patrick Ragsdale appeals from the trial court's revocation of his probation, for which he was sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment in a regional punishment facility, followed by six months' suspended imposition of sentence. On appeal, Ragsdale argues that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his motion for a directed verdict because there was insufficient evidence to support the finding that he had failed to lead a law-abiding life. We affirm.

Ragsdale was placed on probation in 1998 for criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine. The State filed a petition to revoke Ragsdale's probation on March 6, 2003, alleging that he had failed to lead a law-abiding life, that he had admitted to the use and possession of a controlled substance, that he was found associating with persons encouraging the commission of a crime, that he failed to notify his probation officer of his address, and that he had failed to report to his probation officer as directed.

At the revocation hearing held on July 25, 2003, Ragsdale's probation officer, Stephanie Stewart, testified that she was notified in October 2002 that Ragsdale had failed to report since

August 2002. She made contact with Ragsdale on November 19, 2002, after he was arrested in connection with a traffic stop. Stewart testified that Ragsdale told her that he had been burned when he was present in an apartment where methamphetamine was being cooked, after the apartment blew up. Stewart testified that it was a condition of Ragsdale's probation that he not be around people who were cooking methamphetamine. She stated that she drug tested Ragsdale; that he failed the test; and that he admitted that he had used meth. According to Stewart, Ragsdale then failed to report to her as directed in January 2003. She was advised on March 3, 2003, that Ragsdale was supposedly in possession of a stolen vehicle, and he was arrested that same day for theft of property. Stewart testified that Ragsdale admitted to her on March 5, 2003, that he had been using meth. She did not see Ragsdale again until July 2003, when he indicated that he was still using meth.

Ronnie Copeland, an officer with the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department, testified that he came into contact with Ragsdale on November 19, 2002, when he initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle in which Ragsdale was a passenger. Copeland testified that a drug dog alerted on the passenger side of the vehicle and that a pipe with residue was found on the floorboard on the passenger side. Copeland further testified that a magnetic key holder containing a plastic baggy of methamphetamine was found in the center console of the vehicle.

Ragsdale made a motion for dismissal or directed verdict, alleging that the State had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he had violated the terms of his probation. He specifically argued that there was no evidence that he acted as an accomplice in the burning of the apartment and that there was insufficient evidence to connect him to the contraband found inside the vehicle, although he noted that he had admitted to using methamphetamine. The trial court denied Ragsdale's motion. In his testimony, Ragsdale denied having any knowledge that methamphetamine was being cooked at the apartment before the fire or of the contraband found inside the vehicle. He admitted, however, that he had told his probation officer that he had used meth on three occasions and that he was a drug addict. Ragsdale further admitted that he had sometimes failed to report to his probation officer due to the fact that he was in jail.

After hearing the evidence, the trial court found that the State had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Ragsdale was in violation of the terms and conditions of his probation. The court noted that Ragsdale had "acknowledged using illegal drugs while on probation, that he failed to report to his probation officer as required and that he has been in the presence of people who were cooking methamphetamine. And it is my finding that he either knew, or should've known that that is what they were doing while he was there."

Ragsdale argues on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict or dismissal because there was insufficient evidence to find that he had failed to live a law-abiding life while on probation. In a revocation proceeding, the State has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant inexcusably violated the conditions of his probation. Cheshire v. State, 80 Ark. App. 327, 95 S.W.3d 820 (2003). On appeal, we do not reverse the trial court's decision to revoke a defendant's probation unless it is clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. Id. Since the determination of a preponderance of the evidence in a revocation proceeding turns on questions of credibility and weight to be given testimony, this court defers to the trial judge's superior position in this regard. Id. In order for the trial court to revoke a defendant's probation, the State is required to prove only one violation of the conditions of probation. Rudd v. State, 76 Ark. App. 121, 61 S.W.3d 885 (2001).

As he did in his motion to dismiss, Ragsdale only challenges the trial court's finding that he failed to lead a law-abiding life, based on the evidence that he was associating with persons who were cooking methamphetamine and that he was a passenger in a vehicle containing contraband. Ragsdale does not challenge the trial court's findings that he had admitted to using methamphetamine while on probation and that he had failed to report to this probation officer, both of which are additional violations of the conditions of his probation. The State is required to prove only one violation of the conditions of probation, Rudd v. State, supra, and there was evidence that Ragsdale violated several conditions of his probation in this case. Thus, the trial court's revocation of Ragsdale's probation was not clearly against the preponderance of the evidence, and we affirm.

Affirmed.

Robbins and Bird, JJ., agree.