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MILTON THOMAS v. STATE OF ARKANSAS
Case Number: 2020 Ark. App. 200
Judge: WAYMOND M. BROWN
Court: ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS
Plaintiff's Attorney: Michael Zangari, Ass’t Att’y Gen.
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Appellant’s jury trial took place on January 16, 2019. Testimony showed that
appellant fled from a traffic stop in Bryant, Arkansas, the night of June 14, 2018, after
being stopped by Officer Shawn Johnson for a broken headlight. A pursuit ensued onto I-
30 with speeds reaching 130 m.p.h. before appellant took the Baseline Road exit and
subsequently blew out a tire. Appellant eventually turned down a service road driving
against traffic. The pursuit was called off due to safety concerns. Appellant’s unoccupied
vehicle was spotted a short time later in the middle of the parking lot of a nearby hotel.
The vehicle’s engine was still running, and the driver’s door was open. A search of the
vehicle turned up a letter addressed to appellant. Officer Johnson was able to pull up
appellant’s driver’s license by running the name found on the letter. He concluded that
the person he was looking for was appellant. Appellant was finally located in room 216
and arrested. At the conclusion of the State’s case, appellant moved for a directed verdict
stating, “Judge, the defense will move for a directed verdict. The State has not provided
enough evidence to prove their case.” The court denied the motion.
Trial proceeded with the defense presenting its case. After the defense rested, the
court stated that it would “show [appellant’s] motion is renewed word for word as
previously stated and denied.” The State subsequently presented rebuttal testimony, and
afterwards, the court again stated it would “consider [appellant’s] motion is renewed word
for word and denied.” The jury convicted appellant of fleeing and sentenced him as a
habitual offender to fifteen years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. The
sentencing order was filed on January 23. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on
A motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence.1 A
motion for a directed verdict shall state the specific grounds therefor.2
The failure of a
defendant to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence at the times and in the manner
required will constitute a waiver of any question pertaining to the sufficiency of the
evidence to support the verdict or judgment.3
A motion for directed verdict or for
dismissal based on insufficiency of the evidence must specify the respect in which the
evidence is deficient.4 A motion merely stating that the evidence is insufficient does not
preserve for appeal issues relating to a specific deficiency, such as insufficient proof on the
elements of the offense.5
Failure to make the motions for directed verdict with specificity
regarding the sufficiency issue on appeal equates to the motion never having been made.6
Appellant’s directed-verdict motion was not specific regarding which elements of
fleeing the State’s evidence failed to meet. He simply argued that the State had not
provided enough evidence to prove its case. Thus, we hold that appellant’s sufficiency
challenge is not preserved for appeal