LITTLE ROCK — The state Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected a convicted killer’s claim that his conviction should be reversed because an expert witness at his trial in Jefferson County was allowed to testify about the marijuana-like synthetic drug K2 despite not being qualified as an expert on K2.
The court upheld Rashine Raglon’s second-degree murder conviction and 65-year sentence in the slaying of Demetric McDaniel in Pine Bluff. Raglon admitting shooting McDaniel in the head with a shotgun but claimed the gun accidentally discharged.
There was evidence presented during the trial that on the night of the shooting, Raglon was smoking K2, a synthetic cannabinoid.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Frank Peretti, an expert witness for the state, testified during the trial, “I have seen the effects of K2 on people the last several years. The people using the drug become psychotic. They go into rages. I have seen people jump off bridges and through plate glass windows. It is a really bad drug.”
Raglon argued on appeal that Peretti was not an expert on narcotic drugs and their effects and that, therefore, he should not have been allowed to testify on those topics.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals disagreed.
“We agree with the state that Dr. Peretti’s testimony did not range too far outside his area of expertise and that he demonstrated knowledge beyond that of ordinary knowledge regarding the effects of K2 on a user,” the court said in an opinion written by Judge Rita Gruber.
Raglon also argued that Peretti’s testimony improperly dissuaded the jury from finding him guilty of manslaughter or negligent homicide. The Court of Appeals said there was “other strong evidence” to dissuade the jury from finding Raglon guilty of a lesser offense, including testimony that the gun barrel was less than an inch from McDaniel’s head when it was fired.