Christopher L. Washington Jr. will continue to serve a total of 40 years in prison after the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday, May 27, to affirm his conviction on charges of aggravated robbery and theft of property valued at less than $25,000.
In proceedings before Judge Bynum Gibson, an Ashley County Circuit Court jury convicted Washington on July 23, 2019, with the finding that he was a habitual offender.
The opinion indicated that the charges came from an incident in October, 2018, in which a woman’s car was stolen after she had been beaten, shot and thrown out of the vehicle as it traveled possibly up to 60 miles per hour.
Washington’s appeal tried to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence used to convict him, but the court found that his attempts failed. The court concluded, “... there is sufficient evidence to show an attempt to inflict death or serious physical injury” after “...the victim ‘went to appellant’s house to purchase drugs.’”
Officer John Pryor of the Arkansas State Police came into contact with the victim in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2018. He said he was outside his home when he heard someone calling for help. Pryor called the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department for backup. He then saw the woman limping down a gravel back road and testified that she appeared to have been in a fight, explaining that she was “covered in blood,” looked like she had “road rash all over her,” and “couldn’t hardly stand.”
The victim testified that she had been using methamphetamine for three years and had previously bought drugs from Washington. She said that on Oct. 28, she contacted Washington on Facebook Messenger but learned he only had marijuana. She asked if he could front the money for the marijuana because she could not cash a check until the following morning. The woman testified that Washington told her to come to his home. She drove her 2015 car to his house and messaged him around 4:45 a.m. to let him know she was in his driveway.
After another woman at the residence, Stephanie Rollow, asked for a ride, the victim agreed. Washington and Seth Collins got into the car, and Washington told the victim where to drive. When they stopped on a gravel road, the victim said that Washington started choking her and hitting her in the face. Collins pulled her out of the car and dragged her into a ditch and hit and kicked her.
After the victim was put back in the car, Collins drove, and the victim said her legs were hanging out the door because her child’s car seat was in the way. She testified that the two men discussed how to kill her with one saying she “did not deserve a bullet” and that they would throw her out when the car hit 60 miles an hour. She said that Washington pushed her out of the car, and she heard two shots. The victim said that the car continued down the road, and she walked and screamed for help. Rollow also testified to the beating, that Washington had thrown the victim out of the car and said she had heard a shot.
A Little Rock police officer arrested Washington, who was driving the victim’s car, and found one of the victim’s credit cards in his boot after Deputy Josh Pollock issued an alert for the missing car.
Brandon Jacobs, an emergency medical technician for the Crossett Fire Department, said he treated two of Hill’s wounds as gunshot wounds by packing and wrapping them to control the bleeding. Officer Phillip Roberts of the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department recalled Hill’s telling him that she was thrown out of the car and “shot at twice.”
Following the state’s witnesses, the defense asked for a directed verdict on the aggravated robbery charge but did not present any evidence. The circuit court denied the motion. The jury found
Washington guilty of aggravated robbery and theft of property (greater than $5000 and less than $25,000). He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment for aggravated robbery and 10 years for theft of property with the sentences to run concurrently.
The habitual offender status came from Washington’s prior record which included violations for firearms, theft by receiving, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property and forgery.
Chief Judge Rita Gruber wrote the opinion with agreement of Judges Mike Murphy and Waymond Brown. Gary W. Potts is the defense attorney.
The state is holding Washington, 28, in the Cummins Unit at Grady. He will be eligible for consideration for parole in 2047.