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Court upholds Pine Bluff man’s 2011 murder conviction


LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the 50 year prison sentence given to Pine Bluff man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of man in a Pine Bluff apartment complex.

In his appeal, Tony Ray Boykins Jr., argued Jefferson County Circuit Judge Berlin Jones erred by excluding testimony of a witness regarding a statement given by Boykins’ brother. The brother did not testify during the trial.

In 2012, a jury found Boykins guilty in the July 27, 2011, shooting death of Brian K. Smith, 21, of Pine bluff. Smith was shot during an altercation at an apartment complex. He was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Boykins, who was charged as an habitual offender, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder, and another 10 years for using a firearm in the commission of the crime, with the two sentences to be served consecutively.

Boykins argued in his appeal that statements made by his brother to a police detective indicated that someone else could have committed the shooting.

A three-judge appeals court panel ruled unanimously that the appeal lacked merit.

“Although evidence of a possible third party’s guilt may be introduced at trial, it is admissible only when the evidence points directly to the guilt of the third party,” Judge Robert Gladwin wrote. “Evidence of a potential third party’s guilt, which speaks solely to motive or opportunity, is insufficient to create reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt; there must be direct or circumstantial evidence linking the third person to the actual perpetration of the crime.”

Joining Gladwin in the ruling were Judges Bill Walmsley and Brandon Harrison.