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Midgett v. State

    Citation. 292 Ark. 278, 729 S.W.2d 410,1987 Ark. 2123.

    Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Ronnie Midgett, Sr., was convicted of first-degree murder for the beating death of his son, Ronnie Midgett, Jr.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Premeditation and deliberation are required elements of first-degree murder.

    Facts. The victim had been abused by the Defendant in the form of brutal beatings over a substantial period. The bruises had been noticed by teachers and counselors, but the victim would not state where he got the injuries. On the date of the victim’s death, the Defendant carried him into the hospital, stating that he did not know what was wrong. An autopsy revealed that the victim was malnourished and underdeveloped. He had recent bruises on his lips, the center of the chest plate, forehead, the back part of the lateral chest wall, the soft tissue near the spine, and the buttocks. There was discoloration of the abdominal wall and prominent bruising on the palms of the hands. Older bruises were found on the right temple, under the chin, and on the left mandible. Recent and healed rib fractures were found. The victim died as a result of intra-abdominal hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma consistent with a human fist.

    Issue. Is the evidence of premeditation and deliberation sufficient to support a conviction of first-degree murder?

    Held. No. A conviction of first-degree murder requires that the Defendant deliberately and with premeditation kill the victim. Here, the evidence is substantial that the Defendant severely abused the victim. The victim was bruised in several places on his body and malnourished. On the Sunday before the Wednesday of the victim’s death, the Defendant had been drinking heavily and delivered four blows, two to the stomach and two to the back. There was no evidence that the Defendant was doing any more than continuing his pattern of abuse. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to prove that the Defendant killed with premeditation and deliberation. The Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder was incorrect, and it should be modified to second-degree murder.

    Dissent. The majority has usurped the power of the jury to find that the Defendant intended to kill his son. Further, starving the boy, choking him and beating him constantly provide sufficient evidence of intent to kill.

    Discussion. A first-degree murder conviction requires that the prosecution prove that the Defendant acted with premeditation and deliberation.


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