Alfred Flowers v. State of Arkansas

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NOVEMBER 16, 2005





Karen R. Baker, Judge

Appellant Alfred Flowers was convicted of robbery and misdemeanor theft of property following a bench trial in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Appellant was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. Appellant's sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict as to the robbery conviction. We affirm.

In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in a light most favorable to the State and consider only the evidence that supports the verdict. Parker v. State, 355 Ark. 639, 144 S.W.3d 270 (2004). We affirm a conviction if substantial evidence exists to support it. Id. Substantial evidence is that which is of sufficient force and character that it will, with reasonable certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other, without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Id.

Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-12-102(a) (Repl. 1997) states that a person commits robbery if "with the purpose of committing a felony or misdemeanor theft or resisting apprehension immediately thereafter, he employs or threatens to immediately employ physical force upon another." Section 5-12-101 (Repl. 1997) states, "[A]s used in this chapter, unless the

context otherwise requires, physical force means any bodily impact, restraint, or confinement or the threat thereof."

At trial, Catessa Walker testified that on November 27, 2003, she was a customer in the Little Rock E-Z Mart store on 12th Street when appellant approached her and asked her if she had a cell phone. She told him no and continued to the counter to check out. Ms. Walker described how she had her hand on her wallet as she started to pay the clerk, and she stated that appellant reached over her shoulder and grabbed her wallet. She further recounted how the two struggled. First, Ms. Walker continued to hold on to the wallet so that when appellant grabbed it he also pulled Ms. Walker's hand behind her head. Her grip weakened and appellant pulled her fingers off of the wallet and ran. Ms. Walker ran after him, and before he could reach the door she jumped on his back. They both fell to the floor, struggling until appellant managed to get away. He headed towards the door; however, the store clerk had locked the door by a remote locking mechanism. At that point, Ms. Walker grabbed appellant's wrist and pulled the wallet out of his hand. After she reclaimed her wallet, appellant began kicking wildly at the door and said, "You got your f-g wallet back. Just let me out the store." Finally, Ms. Walker explained the physical injury she suffered and unequivocally reiterated that appellant had taken the wallet from her by force.

Appellant admitted that he took Ms. Walker's wallet on that date; however, he claimed that no force was used and there was no struggle or fight. Rather, he merely picked up the wallet and handed it back to Ms. Walker when she approached him at the door of the store.

Jeff King, of the Little Rock Police Department, testified that he investigated the incident. He provided video tapes from the cameras showing the incident and explained where the appellant and the victim were on the video tapes.

Appellant argues that the trial court erred in declining to direct a verdict on robbery because there was insufficient evidence of the use of force in the commission of the theft.Contrary to appellant's assertion, two separate and distinct accounts of the events and circumstances were presented to the court. One was Ms. Walker's version of the physical force appellant used to grab her wallet, pry her fingers off of it, and the ensuing struggle resulting in her injury; the other was appellant's story of passively picking up the wallet and returning it to Ms. Walker at the door. Determining the credibility of witnesses, however, was for the trier of fact. See, e.g., Galvin v. State, 323 Ark. 125, 912 S.W.2d 932 (1996).

The only elements the State must prove in order to convict a person of robbery are set forth in Ark. Code Ann. ยง 5-12-102: 1) an intent to commit theft and 2) the employment of or threat to employ physical force. The statute clearly defines "physical force" to include any bodily impact, restraint or confinement.

The testimony of Ms. Walker was sufficient to support the finding that physical force was used without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Ms. Walker testified that her hand went behind her head because appellant pulled on her wallet while she had a grip on it. She also testified that she and appellant fell to the floor when she jumped at him and they tussled on the floor before he wiggled away and ran toward the door. Accordingly, we find that appellant's argument is without merit and that there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict.


Gladwin and Robbins, JJ., agree.