The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected a Pine Bluff man’s claims that Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis erred when she denied the man’s petitions to declare a mistrial during his trial on drug and gun related charges.
Rogrick Adway Jr., now 21, was charged with simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with purpose to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia in July 2017. After a jury trial, he was convicted on all counts and sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison.
In his appeal, Adway said that after the jury had delivered its guilty verdicts and went back to consider punishment, the court bailiff told Dennis that an alternate juror had been mistakenly included in the guilt phase of the trial.Adway’s attorney asked that Dennis delay sentencing Adway until both sides could offer written motions.
In his motion, Adway’s attorney called for a mistrial and asserted that he had been denied his constitutional right to be tried by a jury of 12 people and said that the jury displayed prejudice because they convicted Adway “in opposition to his adamant insistence of innocence on all charges.”
Prosecutors contended that there was no evidence that the alternate juror participated in the jury deliberations, much less exercised some level of undue or improper influence on the other jurors.
Writing for the appeals court, Judge Brandon Harrison said that Adway failed to show how he was prejudiced by the presence of the alternate juror and the argument he made in the appeal, that Dennis should have thoroughly questioned the valid jurors was not made at the time of the trial.
Attorneys for Adway also contended that prosecutors had failed to prove their case and sought a directed verdict but Dennis denied that motion.
At trial, Detective Richard McCorvy testified that he and Detective Matthew Pate were conducting surveillance at the Piney Wood Apartments based on suspicions of drug activity. McCorvy saw Adway leave an apartment with a backpack on his shoulder, then put the backpack into a car and walked to a different apartment carrying some tissue paper. He returned a few minutes later, got into the passenger side of the car and left the apartment complex.
McCorvy and Pate conducted a traffic stop and Adway jumped out of the car carrying the backpack and ran back into the apartment complex. McCorvy chased him and as he went around the corner of a building, he saw Adway coming out from behind an air conditioning unit without the4 backpack. McCorvy saw the backpack next to an air conditioning unit but continued to chase Adway until he was able to take him into custody.
Former crime scene technician Meaghan Wells testified that she was called to the apartment complex and processed the contents of the backpack which included two small mason jars with suspected marijuana, a half-box of nine-millimeter ammunition, a Crown Royal containing two different types of nine-millimeter ammunition, a .38-caliber revolver and a nine-millimeter handgun.
Adway testified that while the backpack belonged to him, he had no knowledge of the guns or drugs that were in it said when he put the backpack in the car, it contained only his identification, phone chargers, keys and some tissues. He testified that when he got out of the car, he “got scared” when he saw a gun and “took off running.”
Again writing for the court, Judge Harrison said that in his appeal, Adway contended that the backpack was left in the car in the possession of another person for a short time so the jury could not find that Adway had committed the offenses he was charged with without resorting to speculation or conjecture.
Adway will be eligible to apply for parole on Sept. 18, 2022.