FROM THE HEMPSTEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 29CR-16-302]
HONORABLE RANDY WRIGHT, JUDGE
Anthony S. Biddle, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent Holt, Ass't Att'y
Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge
Jonathan Scott Trotter, age twenty-eight, was convicted in a
jury trial of two counts of rape and two counts of
second-degree sexual assault committed against a
thirteen-year-old girl named R.S. For these offenses, Mr.
Trotter was sentenced to thirty years in prison. Mr. Trotter
now appeals, raising two arguments. First, he argues that
there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions.
Next, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his
motion to declare Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-102 (Repl. 2013)
unconstitutional. We affirm.
to Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-103(a)(3)(A), a person commits
rape if he or she engages in sexual intercourse or deviate
sexual activity with another person who is less than fourteen
years of age. Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. §
5-14-125(a)(3), a person commits second-degree sexual assault
if the person, being eighteen years of age or older, engages
in sexual contact with another person who is less than
fourteen years of age.
appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, we
review the sufficiency argument prior to a review of any
alleged trial errors. Bohanan v. State, 72 Ark.App.
422, 38 S.W.3d 902 (2001). The test for determining the
sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is
supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial.
Id. Substantial evidence is evidence forceful enough
to compel a conclusion with reasonable certainty without
resort to conjecture. Breedlove v. State, 62
Ark.App. 219, 970 S.W.2d 313 (1998). We review the evidence
in the light most favorable to the State, considering only
the evidence that tends to support the verdict. Morton v.
State, 2011 Ark.App. 432, 384 S.W.3d 585.
trial, Mr. Trotter filed a motion to declare Ark. Code Ann.
§ 5-14-102 unconstitutional. That statute provides,
under subsection (b):
(b) When the criminality of conduct depends on a child's
being below fourteen (14) years of age and the actor is
twenty (20) years of age or older, it is no defense that the
(1) Did not know the age of the child; or
(2) Reasonably believed the child to be fourteen (14) years
of age or older.
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-102(b). In his motion, Mr. Trotter
argued that the above provision, which prohibits a defendant
from using mistake of age as a defense when the victim is
less than fourteen years of age, violates due process and his
right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and
Article 2, section 10 of the Arkansas Constitution. Mr.
Trotter asserted that R.S. had posted on the internet that
she was born on May 3, 1997, which would have made her
nineteen years old during the relevant time frame. Mr.
Trotter asserted further that R.S. had posted pornography and
other sexual statements on the internet and was engaging in
activity normally engaged in only by adults. He thus posited
that R.S. should be held to an "adult standard."
Mr. Trotter contended that the challenged statute assumes
that every person under the age of fourteen is the same when,
in fact, they differ in size, shape, behavior, and maturity.
Citing cases from other states, Mr. Trotter argued that
Arkansas should allow mistake of age as a defense.
pretrial hearing was held on Mr. Trotter's motion, and
Mr. Trotter testified at the hearing. Mr. Trotter testified
that R.S. had approached him on social media, and on her
Facebook page she represented that she was born on May 3,
1997. Mr. Trotter stated that R.S. deceived him into thinking
she was nineteen years old. Mr. Trotter further testified
that R.S. "flaunted herself" by posting half-naked
pictures of herself on her Facebook page. Mr. Trotter stated
that R.S. did not look like a thirteen-year-old or carry
herself like a thirteen-year-old. He also stated that she
displayed adult behavior, including smoking cigarettes and
telling him that she recently had a baby. Mr. Trotter
admitted that R.S. is thirteen years old and that he had
sexual intercourse with her. However, he testified that he
wanted to take some responsibility, but not full
responsibility, because had he known R.S.'s age he would
not have had sex with her.
conclusion of Mr. Trotter's testimony at the pretrial
hearing, the trial court denied Mr. Trotter's motion to
declare Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-102 unconstitutional. The
trial court also ruled that the aforementioned information
and pictures ...