The Arkansas Court of Appeals, in a decision announced on Wednesday, March 8, affirmed the conviction of Darryl Lavon Bunton on a charge of “possession of a firearms by certain persons.”
An Ashley County Circuit Court jury convicted Bunton of the firearms offense in April, 2022. After the conviction, the jury set punishment at 20 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
In the appeal, Bunton’s attorney, Gary Potts, argued that the court should have granted his motion for a directed verdict because there was no direct evidence the defendant had a gun. Charges arose from an altercation on Sept. 21, 2021, in a carport belonging to Roy Langstaff in which Bunton was alleged to have pushed Langstaff before fleeing. According to Langstaff, he heard three shots and saw muzzle flashes from the area where Bunton had fled. He did not see a gun but indicated that Burton was the only other person in his yard.
Officer Edwin Browning, in a search of the yard, found a 9mm shell casing and Bunton’s cell phone near the casing. Bunton’s appeal admitted that he was a felon, but argued that the state failed to prove he possessed a firearm.
The appeals court concluded that, “the State’s evidence was sufficient for the jury to conclude without the need to resort to speculation that he possessed and fired a gun.... In light of these facts, we hold that the State presented sufficient evidence that Bunton was in possession of a firearm. Viewing the evidence in this case in the light most favorable to the State, there was substantial evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Bunton, a felon, possessed the firearm. Therefore, we affirm Bunton’s conviction.” Judge Robert Bynum Gibson III heard the Ashley County case. Judge Raymond R. Abramson wrote the majority opinion for the court of appeals.
Bunton, now 47, is being held in the Delta Unit of the Ark. Dept. of Correction in Dermott. He is classified as a habitual offender with several previous terms in prison.