The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the 2018 conviction and 60-year prison sentence of a man accused of beating his sister and her boyfriend, who later died from his injuries at a Little Rock hospital.
Allen Claggett, now 45, contended in his appeal that Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis erred when she denied a motion by his attorney for a directed verdict, which challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented in the case.
Claggett was convicted of second-degree murder and of misdemeanor domestic battery and is serving his sentence at the East Arkansas Regional Unit at Brickeys. He will be eligible to apply for parole on Jan. 26, 2033.
That evidence showed that on June 2, 2017, Claggett’s sister, Nancy Claggett, was at home with her boyfriend, Henry Johnson. Allen Claggett arrived and began to argue with his sister, then hit her in the eye. Johnson, who had suffered a previous stroke that impaired his ability to walk well and the use of his right hand, was also beaten by Claggett, who knocked Johnson to the floor and stomped on him.
Johnson had previously obtained an order of protection against Allen Claggett.
Testimony from Claggett’s sister showed that she wanted to call an ambulance for Johnson after finding him apparently unconscious, but her brother had her phone and she wasn’t able to call for help until almost noon the following day.
Johnson was taken to UAMS, where a CAT scan showed bleeding on the brain. Doctors removed part of Johnson’s skull to try and control the bleeding, which was not successful. A second surgery caused part of Johnson’s brain to die. He was taken to a hospice and died June 13 of pneumonia.
Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Erickson testified at the trial that Johnson, 57, had died as a result of receiving head trauma.
For the second part of his appeal, Claggett contended that while it was clear that Johnson died as a result of the injuries, it was possible that after he was struck, he hit the bed, got up, and fell over. Claggett also contended that the care Johnson received at UAMS could have caused or at least contributed to the death, but the appeals court ruling said the court did not agree.
“While the concurrent causes — the surgical complications, ensuing epidural hematoma and pneumonia — may have contributed to Johnson’s death, Claggett’s conduct in beating and kicking Johnson in the head, thereby causing the initial subdural hematoma was the cause of Johnson’s death,” Associate Justice Phillip T. Whiteaker said in the ruling.
"Stated another way, Johnson’s death would not have occurred but for the conduct of the defendant operating either alone or concurrently with another,” Whiteaker said in the ruling.