FROM THE WOODRUFF COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 74CR-17-46]
HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER W. MORLEDGE, JUDGE
Latonya Laird Austin, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
Woodruff County Circuit Court jury found Kimberly Lee guilty
of trafficking of persons, a Class Y felony, and sentenced
her to ten years' imprisonment. Lee appeals her
conviction and argues that the evidence was circumstantial
and was not sufficient for a finding of guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. We affirm.
4, 2017, a criminal information was filed charging Lee with
trafficking of persons involving a minor. The affidavit of
probable cause for arrest stated that following a referral to
the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division,
an investigation was conducted to look into the allegations
by sixteen-year-old K.L. regarding multiple sexual encounters
with adults. The affidavit revealed that after extensive
interviews with K.L., she disclosed multiple individuals
involved in some varying degree with her. Eleven individuals
confessed to the conduct alleged by K.L.
trial was held on February 13, 2018. The victim, K.L.,
testified that starting when she was twelve years old, her
grandmother, Lee, would ask her to do things with Lee's
friends or just men who showed up at Lee's house. K.L.
explained that when she turned fifteen years old, Lee started
selling her to more men in exchange for methamphetamine, and
Lee would then smoke it with K.L. K.L. testified that on one
specific occasion, Lee asked K.L. to have sex with
thirty-four-year-old Mike Fikes in exchange for
methamphetamine. K.L. testified that Lee told her Lee's
husband would kick Lee out of the house if she did not get
the drugs. K.L. recalled that she, her friend C.G., and Lee
were all at Lee's house when Fikes arrived. Lee and Fikes
went into a bedroom and then Lee came out and told K.L. to go
into the bedroom with Fikes. K.L. did as she was told and
went into the room with Fikes where he told her that he would
exchange drugs for two hours with her. K.L. originally told
him no "because [she] was in a relationship and [she]
ended up doing it anyways." After about thirty minutes,
K.L. left the room crying, and she told C.G. what had
happened. Soon after, Fikes left, and Lee shared the
methamphetamine with K.L.
cross-examination, Lee introduced and played for the jury two
video interviews in which K.L. recounted a different timeline
of events. In the interviews, she said the encounter with
Fikes was consensual and that she enjoyed spending time at
Lee's house. On redirect examination, K.L. explained the
events leading up to those interviews. She testified that at
the time, she was concerned for her baby sister because she
had a fever and was not breathing well, but their mother was
on drugs and would not take her sister to the doctor.
Consequently, K.L. went to the police station and explained
the situation and her concerns about her mother. She
explained that all she hoped for that day was that her baby
sister would get taken care of; she had no desire to discuss
the situation at Lee's house.
C.G. testified and corroborated K.L.'s recollection of
events that occurred with Fikes. C.G. explained that she did
not hear the conversation between Lee and K.L., but K.L.
reacted to the conversation as if "she didn't like
it." After that conversation, she confirmed that both
K.L. and Fikes were in the bedroom alone. According to C.G.,
while she never saw or knew about a specific exchange for
drugs, it was typical for Lee to not have drugs, a man would
come over, and then Lee would have drugs. On
cross-examination, Lee introduced the statement C.G. made to
investigators: "I don't know about Kim Lee trading
[K.L.] for sex but I know they both had sex with Matt
the State rested, Lee moved for directed verdict based on
insufficient evidence due to the impeachment testimony
presented. The circuit court denied the motion. Lee did not
call any witnesses and renewed her directed-verdict motion.
The circuit court denied that motion as well, and she was
convicted of the crime. She now timely appeals.
directed-verdict motion is a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence. Snow v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 612, at
5, S.W.3d, . Our 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 that would compel a conclusion one way
or the other with reasonable certainty, without relying on
mere speculation or conjecture. Id. Circumstantial
evidence may constitute substantial evidence to support a
conviction if it excludes every other reasonable hypothesis
other than the guilt of the accused. Id. Weighing
the evidence, reconciling conflicts in testimony, and
assessing credibility are all matters exclusively for the
trier of fact. Id.
person commits the offense of trafficking of persons if he or
she knowingly recruits, entices, solicits, isolates, harbors,
transports, provides, maintains, or obtains a minor for
commercial sexual activity. Ark. Code Ann. §
5-18-103(a)(4) (Supp. 2017). "Commercial sexual
activity" means a sexual act or sexually-explicit
performance for which anything of value is given, promised,
or received, directly or indirectly, by a person. Ark. Code
Ann. § 5-18-102(1) (Repl. 2013).
appeal, Lee asserts that the State's proof that she
knowingly recruited, enticed, solicited, or provided K.L. to
engage in sexual activity with Fikes in exchange for
methamphetamine was circumstantial. To support her argument,
Lee questions the credibility and consistency of the witness
testimony. She also specifically points to K.L.'s
testimony from one of the recorded interviews in which she
stated that she felt safe with Lee and that she did not smoke
with Lee because they were family. We do not agree.
on K.L.'s testimony and C.G.'s testimony, we conclude
that there was sufficient evidence that Lee knowingly
provided K.L. to Mike Fikes in exchange for methamphetamine.
Essentially, Lee is requesting this court to reweigh the
evidence, which we will not do. E.g., Drennan v.
State, 2018 Ark. 328, at 6, 559 S.W.3d 262, 266. We will
disregard testimony that the fact-finder has found credible
only if it is so inherently improbable, physically
impossible, or so clearly ...