Appeals Court affirms Ashley County conviction

The Arkansas Court of Appeals has granted a motion by an attorney for an Ashley County man sentenced to prison for violating conditions of his probation to withdraw from the case.

Appeals Court Judge Robin F. Wynne affirmed the conviction of William A. Martin on three counts of second-degree forgery from Ashley County Circuit Court, and ruled that there was no merit to an appeal by Martin.

In 2008, Martin pleaded guilty to the forgery charges and was sentenced to five years probation, with the first three to be supervised. He signed a list of conditions of probation that included a requirement that he pay $478 restitution.

Less than a year later, the state filed a petition to revoke Martin’s probation, alleging that he had failed to report a change of address, make himself available for drug and alcohol testing or failed to pay fines, fees, costs and/or restitution. A month later, an amended petition was filed after Martin was arrested for DWI.

Circuit Judge Sam Pope found Martin guilty of violating conditions of his probation and sentenced him to 12 months in a regional punishment facility, followed by five years supervised probation. That order included a requirement that Martin complete the substance abuse program while in jail.

On April 19, 2011, the state filed another petition to revoke Martin’s probation, alleging that he had been arrested on new charges, had failed to report to his probation officer and was delinquent on fines and fees.

At a revocation hearing on Nov. 28, 2011, Martin’s probation officer, Scott McDonald, testified that Martin was released from the regional punishment facility on July 27, 2011, and the following day, called his probation officer at the time to tell her that he was “going to drink that night.”

Two probation officers and a sheriff’s deputy found Martin, who was described as “very intoxicated,” and Martin was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

McDonald also testified that Martin had not reported since December 2010, and that Martin was still delinquent on his fines and fees.

At the close of evidence, Pope said “Mr. Martin, to be a smart man, you’re awfully dense to come out of a program I sent you to to try and deal with your alcohol issues on the first day and just decide that because you’re free you can go drink that day and then disappear from probation three or four months in a row.”

Pope told Martin his probation was revoked and he was being sentenced to six years in prison.

“You’ll owe the court costs and fees assessed when you get out of the penitentiary and if you don’t pay them, you’ll be looking at me again because I’m revoking you for drinking and not paying.”

In the Appeals Court ruling, Wynne said the trial court needs to prove only one violation to revoke a probated sentence.

“Here, Martin admitted to drinking alcohol and failing to report to his probation officer,” Wynne said in the ruling.