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Lee v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

August 28, 2019

Latosha Deann LEE, Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

          Rehearing Denied September 11, 2019

          Rehearing Denied September 18, 2019

Page 396

          APPEAL FROM THE WOODRUFF COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 74CR-17-50], HONORABLE RICHARD L. PROCTOR, JUDGE

         James Law Firm, by: Michael Kiel Kaiser and William O. "Bill" James, Jr., for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge

          In May 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 sentence.

Page 397

          I. Facts

          In 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.

          Notwithstanding 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 Gaddis.

          K.L. 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.

          Lee did not testify during the trial, but her inculpatory statement to Arkansas State Police special officer Randall Murphy was read to the jury ...


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