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Gonzales v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

June 5, 2019

Martha ROSARIO GONZALES, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT [NO. 66FCR-18-421], HONORABLE STEPHEN TABOR, JUDGE

          Natural State Law, PLLC, by: Jarred W. Kibbey, for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Jason Michael Johnson, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge

          A Sebastian County Circuit Court jury convicted Martha Rosario Gonzales of possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver, possession of hydrocodone, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana. Pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), and Rule 4-3(k)(1) of the Rules of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, Gonzales’s attorney has filed a no-merit brief, along with a motion to withdraw as counsel, asserting that there is no issue of arguable merit for an appeal. Gonzales was notified of her right to file pro se points for reversal via certified mail. Gonzales has filed pro se points, and the State has filed a response. We affirm the convictions and grant counsel’s motion to withdraw.

          On March 27, 2018, the State charged Gonzales with possession of methamphetamine with the purpose to deliver, possession of hydrocodone, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana. On July 26, the State amended the criminal information to charge Gonzales as a habitual offender pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-4-501(b) (Repl. 2013).

          The court held a jury trial on August 7. At trial, Bryan Stanley, a narcotics detective with the Fort Smith Police Department, testified that he arranged for a confidential informant to engage in a controlled buy of methamphetamine from Rodney Stringer. He explained that the informant contacted Stringer and that Stringer sent Gonzales to perform the transaction. Stanley testified that Gonzales met the informant and that he (Stanley) monitored their meeting by audio feed. He explained that Gonzales and the informant discussed further purchases of methamphetamine. He stated that after the meeting, another officer detained and arrested Gonzales in her car. Stanley then went to the traffic stop and spoke with Gonzales. He explained that he asked Gonzales whether she had anything that she did not want "to get caught with at jail," and Gonzales retrieved several items from her pants.

          Sergeant Wayne Barnett testified that he stopped Gonzales in her car after the controlled buy. He explained that he immediately removed the passenger from the car and secured him. He testified that he located a purse in the driver’s side of the

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car where Gonzales was sitting and that the purse contained a bag of marijuana and empty Ziploc bags. He further testified that Gonzales retrieved hydrocodone pills and methamphetamine from her pants. Barnett stated that in his experience, the bags found on Gonzales were the type used to package illegal drugs.

          Chris George, an employee of the Fort Smith Police Department vice and narcotics unit, testified that he assisted in the traffic stop of Gonzales. He stated that money found on Gonzales matched money that was given to the confidential informant for the controlled buy. He further ...


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