|WILLIAM ASA HUTCHINSON III'S MUGSHOT FROM HIS JANUARY 24, 2016 DWI ARREST|
Asa Hutchinson III was able to get his third DWI conviction overturned due to a mistake by the arresting Arkansas State Trooper Joshua Arnold.
We previously reported on this arrest and outcome as well as his arrest and conviction in Alabama for possession of illegal drugs.
Asa III was arrested on January 24, 2016 at around 2:55 a.m. after he passed out and crashed his truck into a guard rail trying to get to his home in Rogers.
Asa III was actually heading the opposite direction from his home towards Fayetteville when the accident occurred.
He hit the guard rail with so much force that several air bags in his truck deployed.
Asa III reeked of booze and wobbled when he walked. His speech was slurred and his pants were unzipped.
And a loaded handgun was found in his jacket pocket - one that he did not tell Trooper Arnold about nor did he state that he had a concealed weapon on him and show his permit, if he had one, which the law requires.
Corporal Arnold initially issued Asa III citation number 2001796935 on which he indicated that the accident had occurred during daylight hours.
Trooper Arnold voided out the original ticket and issued another, #2001796936, which correctly indicated that the accident had occurred when it was dark.
CLICK TO VIEW THE COMPLETE ARKANSAS STATE POLICE REPORT
Apparently Trooper Arnold did not give the second ticket to Asa III or Asa III was too drunk to recall that he had received it. Either way, that little thing allowed Asa III to get his third DWI conviction overturned on appeal.
Trooper Arnold attempted to void that ticket and write another one indicating it was "dark" when the accident occurred on the Exit 67 ramp off Interstate 49. Mile marker 67 is just before the Exit 67 ramp.
The second citation was filed with Fayetteville District Court, where Hutchinson was tried and convicted by a judge on Nov. 30 of driving while intoxicated, careless and prohibited driving, and refusal to submit to chemical testing.
Chad Atwell of Fayetteville, Hutchinson's attorney, said his client never received the second citation, and the statute of limitations has expired to charge him under that document.
The charges should be dismissed because Hutchinson didn't receive "proper notice of the charges against him in violation of his due process rights," wrote Atwell in a motion to dismiss filed Monday.
During his research, Atwell said, he discovered two other tickets pertaining to the incident: the initial ticket with "VOID" stamped across the front, and the second ticket with the words "no signature required" at the bottom. All four tickets listed the same three charges.
"None of the four citations, or two numbered citations, are valid any longer," Atwell wrote. "The lack of a valid charging instrument violates defendant's right to due process and his right to a speedy trial, and places Mr. Hutchinson in double jeopardy."
Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay agreed and dismissed the case on Monday, instead of going through jury selection for Hutchinson's appeal trial, which was to begin that morning in circuit court. Lindsay said the Fayetteville District Court verdict would be vacated.
|JUDGE MARK LINDSEY|
Lindsay said the mistake appeared to be "human error on the part of the state trooper."
Lindsay said the initial charging document can't be voided in an Arkansas DWI case.
Under Arkansas Code Annotated 5-65-107, a charge of driving while intoxicated "shall not be reduced or dismissed," and the citation is to be filed with the court as soon as possible.
Brian Thomas, the Fayetteville city prosecutor, said he learned about the situation late last week when Atwell asked about the tickets with different citation numbers.
Thomas said he talked with Arnold.
"He had a data entry issue with [the first citation] and wanted to correct it so he went in and voided the first ticket and issued a second ticket and took it to court," Thomas said. "Preferably, he would have just left that ticket alone. Usually, I just ask them to contact me when they think a mistake has been make on the ticket or charging instrument."
Thomas said Hutchinson didn't take a blood alcohol test or breath test after the accident, but the trooper said he did smell alcohol coming from Hutchinson.
"I initially observed the operator's eyes were bloodshot and watery and there was a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the cab of the pickup," Arnold wrote in his incident report.
Hutchinson told Arnold he was OK but had dozed off behind the wheel, according to the report.
Arnold indicated Hutchinson swayed when he walked from the vehicle.
Hutchinson told Arnold he was trying to drive home to Rogers after an event in Fayetteville.
Arnold informed him he was going the wrong way.
Arnold searched Hutchinson and found a 9mm Glock pistol in his jacket pocket, according to the report.
Arnold observed six clues that indicate intoxication, according to his report.
"I asked the driver to continue field sobriety tests, and he declined," wrote Arnold.
Asa III appears to have a substance abuse problem and he needs to get some serious treatment for it before he kills someone.
Not sure that is something the Good Ole Boy System rules require of him.
Observant readers will have noticed that the report filed by Trooper Arnold refers to two 911 calls Asa III made after his accident.
We have sent a FOI request to the Arkansas State Police for copies of the recordings of the calls and will post an update as soon as we receive them.