final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Bay County. Michael C.
Thomas, Public Defender, and Victor D. Holder, Assistant
Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Daniel Krumbholz, Assistant
Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Lara-Castillo was convicted of lewd or lascivious
molestation. The court sentenced him to twenty-five years. On
appeal, Lara-Castillo contends the trial court should have
granted his motion for judgment of acquittal and,
alternatively, that he deserves a new trial because the
prosecutor made improper arguments below. We affirm.
victim, a girl who lived nearby, was eight years old at the
time of the crime. She was nine when she testified at trial
that Lara-Castillo touched her "under and over" her
clothes. She explained that she visited Lara-Castillo's
apartment one morning to meet her younger sisters, who were
eating breakfast there. After she arrived, Lara-Castillo had
her sit on his lap, and he asked her how old she was and if
she had any friends. Then he touched her. She and her sisters
ran home, where she immediately told her mother what
child's mother testified too. She said the child came
home that morning "afraid and crying." The mother
explained that she did not immediately call police because
she could not speak English and had no one to translate for
her. Instead, she went to see her pastor. The pastor arranged
a meeting with himself, the mother, and Lara-Castillo. Both
the mother and the pastor testified that Lara-Castillo
admitted at the meeting that he touched the child, (the
pastor said he admitted touching the child "in her parts
. . . between her legs"), and that he asked for
forgiveness. But they both acknowledged Lara-Castillo
insisted the touching was accidental.
week after the meeting with the pastor, the mother contacted
police through a friend. Police soon found Lara-Castillo,
just as he was leaving his apartment with a duffel bag
containing clothes, his passport, and $900 in cash. After
waiving his Miranda rights, Lara-Castillo answered
officers' questions and admitted touching the child,
maintaining the touching was accidental. But he gave officers
inconsistent details: He first said he touched only the upper
part of the child's body and only with the back of his
hand. But he later said he it was the front of his hand and
her thigh, near her private area.
the State presented this and other evidence at trial,
Lara-Castillo moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing
there was no evidence he touched the child in a "lewd or
lascivious manner." See § 800.04(5)(a),
Fla. Stat. (2016); cf. also Chesebrough v. State,
255 So.2d 675, 677 (Fla. 1971) ("The words
'lewd' and 'lascivious' behavior when used in
a statute to define an offense has been held to have the same
meaning, that is, an unlawful indulgence in lust, eager for
sexual indulgence."); Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim.)
11.10(c) ("The words 'lewd' and
'lascivious' mean the same thing: a wicked, lustful,
unchaste, licentious, or sensual intent on the part of the
person doing an act."). Lara-Castillo argued that the
child never testified to intent and that the only evidence of
intent was his statement that the entire incident was an
accident. The court denied the motion, and Lara-Castillo
raises the same argument here. We review de novo. Pagan
v. State, 830 So.2d 792, 803 (Fla. 1992).
problem with Lara-Castillo's argument is that intent is
almost always established through circumstantial, rather than
direct, evidence. Green v. State, 90 So.3d 835, 837
(Fla. 2d DCA 2012) ("Intent, a state of mind, is rarely
susceptible of direct proof. It is almost always shown solely
by circumstantial evidence."); Manuel v. State,
16 So.3d 833, 835 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005) ("[D]irect
evidence of intent is rare, and intent is usually proven
through inference . . . ."). And while no witness
testified that Lara-Castillo touched the child for
"sexual indulgence" or with "sensual intent,
" jurors could have found he did, based on the evidence:
Lara-Castillo placed the girl on his lap before touching her
under her clothes and between her legs. The girl ran home
scared and crying. Lara-Castillo gave inconsistent accounts
of what happened, and police found him carrying a duffel bag
with items consistent with an effort to flee. Cf.
Twilegar v. State, 42 So.3d 177, 196 (Fla. 2010)
(holding that "evidence of flight . . . after the fact
of a crime is admissible as 'being relevant to
consciousness of guilt which may be inferred from such
circumstances.'" (quoting Straight v.
State, 397 So.2d 903, 908 (Fla. 1981))). Considering all
the evidence in the light most favorable to the State,
see Ibeagwa v. State, 141 So.3d 246, 246-47 (Fla.
1st DCA 2014), we conclude a reasonable jury could find
Lara-Castillo touched the child "in a lewd or lascivious
we reject Lara-Castillo's separate argument that he is
entitled to a new trial based on allegedly improper comments
in the State's closing arguments and during his
cross-examination. As Lara-Castillo acknowledges, he
presented no objection to the comments below, and we conclude
that there was no fundamental error.
and MK ...