FROM THE WOODRUFF COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 74CR-17-50]
HONORABLE RICHARD L. PROCTOR, JUDGE.
Law Firm, Michael Kiel Kaiser and William O. "Bill"
James, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., Rebecca Kane, Ass't Att'y
Gen., for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE.
2017, the State charged Latosha Deann Lee with one count of
trafficking of persons. In February 2018, a Woodruff County
Circuit Court jury convicted Lee, and she was sentenced to
ten years' imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of
Correction. Lee challenges the sufficiency of the State's
evidence against her. We affirm the conviction and related
2016, Lee's fifteen-year-old daughter K.L. met
thirty-seven-year-old B.J. Gaddis online after he commented
that she was pretty on Facebook. In June 2016, K.L. snuck out
of her mother's house to meet Gaddis in person in
McCrory, Arkansas. K.L. initially told her mother that she
was babysitting Gaddis's children. But in July 2016 when
Lee discovered that Gaddis and K.L. were having sex, Lee
forbade her daughter from seeing Gaddis-going so far as to
nail K.L.'s bedroom door shut.
these efforts, Gaddis and K.L. continued seeing each other;
K.L. claimed love for Gaddis. After K.L. threatened to hurt
herself, Lee relented and permitted K.L. to see Gaddis if
they met in the front of the house and K.L.'s little
sister was with them. K.L. was not permitted to be alone with
said that, in an attempt to get around Lee's constraints,
Gaddis "offered my mom meth in exchange for me for two
hours." K.L. and Lee met Gaddis at a cemetery outside
town. K.L. said that Gaddis handed her a small baggie of
methamphetamine, which she in turn gave to her mother. K.L.
and her mother returned home, and K.L. watched her younger
sister for fifteen to twenty minutes. Gaddis then picked up
K.L. and took her to his house, where they had sex. K.L.
returned home very late that night and said that Lee was
crying. According to K.L., Lee was upset because Brandon
(K.L.'s stepfather) had been yelling at her, telling her
that it was "not right" that she had exchanged K.L.
for meth. To make her mother feel better, K.L. said that she
had not had sex with Gaddis when, in fact, she had.
not testify during the trial, but her inculpatory statement
to Arkansas State Police special officer Randall Murphy was
read to the jury without objection. In her statement, Lee
I know she was sexually active with B.J. [Gaddis] but did not
approve so I would only let them sit in his car in my yard.
Once while I was already high on meth, B.J. Gaddis had [K.L.]
tell me that he would give me a boat with meth if I would
send [K.L.] with him for two hours. I said I would. B.J.
Gaddis gave [K.L.] a bag with less than a quarter gram of
meth in it. [K.L.] brought the meth in to me and I let her go
with him. I knew he probably wanted to have sex with her but
she later told me they just talked.
moved for a directed verdict at the close of the State's
case and renewed that motion at the close of all the
evidence. In those motions she argued that she lacked
knowledge that there was going to be any commercial sexual
activity; at most she was acquiescing in letting K.L. leave
with a man that she was already sneaking around with. Lee
also argued that there was no evidence that she recruited,
enticed, solicited, isolated, transported, provided,
maintained, or obtained the minor (her daughter K.L.) for
commercial acts of sexual activity.
raises the same arguments on appeal, contending that the case
should not have been submitted to the jury for decision. A
directed-verdict motion is a challenge to the sufficiency of
the evidence. Lee v. State, 2019 Ark.App. 184, at 3,
574 S.W.3d 211, 213. 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.