Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF BARTON COUNTY Honorable David R.
W. LYNCH, P.J.
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. 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.
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.
2 - Conviction is Supported by Sufficient Evidence
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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, ...