Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Buller

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

July 29, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CHRISTOPHER I. BULLER, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BARTON COUNTY Honorable David R. Munton.

          GARY W. LYNCH, P.J.

         Christopher I. Buller ("Defendant") appeals the trial court's judgment convicting him, following a jury trial, of financially exploiting Suzanne Richardson ("Victim"), an elderly person, see section 570.145.[1] Defendant was sentenced as a prior and persistent offender to thirty years' imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant contends in two points that the trial court committed reversible error when it (1) admitted certain exhibits at trial and (2) denied Defendant's motion to dismiss the case at the close of all of the evidence. Finding no merit in either of Defendant's points, we affirm.

         Discussion

         The relevant factual and procedural background is provided, infra, in our discussion of Defendant's two points relied on, which, for ease of analysis, are reviewed in reverse order.

         Point 2 - Conviction is Supported by Sufficient Evidence

         Defendant's second point contends that the trial court erred when it "den[ied] Defendant's Motion to Dismiss this case at the close of all the evidence for the reason that there was an irreconcilable conflict in the evidence to such an extent that the judgment and verdict were against the greater weight of the evidence." Before proceeding to the merits of Defendant's argument, we note that "[a]n appellate court does not engage in a weight-of-the-evidence review in a criminal case." State v. Cole, 384 S.W.3d 318, 321 (Mo.App. 2012). Accordingly, we limit our review to whether sufficient evidence supported Defendant's conviction for the financial exploitation of an elderly person.

         "'Generally, this Court's review of the sufficiency of the evidence is limited to whether the State has introduced sufficient evidence for any reasonable juror to have been convinced of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" State v. Jeffrey, 400 S.W.3d 303, 312-13 (Mo. banc 2013) (quoting State v. Nash, 339 S.W.3d 500, 508-09 (Mo. banc 2011)).

When judging the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, appellate courts do not weigh the evidence but accept as true all evidence tending to prove guilt together with all reasonable inferences that support the verdict and ignore all contrary evidence and inferences. This is not an assessment of whether the Court believes that the evidence at trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but rather a question of whether, in light of the evidence most favorable to the State, any rational fact-finder could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This Court will not weigh the evidence anew since the fact-finder may believe all, some, or none of the testimony of a witness when considered with the facts, circumstances, and other testimony in the case.

Id. at 313 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Defendant was charged with a violation of section 570.145 for, over a period of time from January 1, 2011, through March 17, 2014, obtaining control of at least $50, 000 of Victim's property through deception. Viewed in accordance with our standard of review, supra, the following facts were adduced at Defendant's trial.

         Victim was born in April of 1928 and, later in life, inherited "a fair amount of wealth from her parents" who had been "very lucky" in the stock market. She was an accountant and, for a time, co-owned an office supply business in Nevada, Missouri, with her late husband. Victim had two daughters, one of whom, Katie Pettibon ("Daughter"), helped run the family business.

         Beginning in 2011, Daughter began "hearing things from different people" concerning Victim's suspicious banking transactions or attempted banking transactions. Upon confronting Victim, Victim became angry, said it was none of Daughter's business, and refused to talk or engage with Daughter further.

         During the summer months of 2014, Daughter sought and acquired conservatorship of Victim, thereby gaining control of her finances. Daughter then discovered Victim's financial records showed that Victim had cashed out $1, 185, 500 in Exxon Mobile stock. Financial records reflected that in late 2010, Victim opened a checking account into which, over the course of the next year, she deposited the proceeds from her stock sales in approximately $80, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.