SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA 1983.LA.693
Appeal from the First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo, Honorable Marvin F. Gahagan, Judge.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE DENNIS
The defendant, Brian Chism, was convicted by a judge of being an accessory after the fact, La. R.S. 14:25, and sentenced to three years in the parish prison, with two and one-half years suspended. The defendant was placed upon supervised probation for two years. We affirm his conviction, but vacate the sentence because it is illegal. Under the Jackson v. Virginia standard, the record in this case contains legally sufficient evidence to support a trier of fact's finding of the essential elements of the charged offense. 433 U.S. 307, 94 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).
On the evening of August 26, 1981 in Shreveport, Tony Duke gave the defendant, Brian Chism, a ride in his automobile. Brian Chism was impersonating a female, and Duke was apparently unaware of Chism's disguise. After a brief visit at a friend's house the two stopped to pick up some beer at the residence of Chism's grandmother. Chism's one-legged uncle, Ira Lloyd, joined them, and the three continued on their way, drinking as Duke drove the automobile. When Duke expressed a desire to have sexual relations with Chism, Lloyd announced that he wanted to find his ex-wife Gloria for the same purpose. Shortly after midnight, the trio arrived at the St. Vincent Avenue Church of Christ and persuaded Gloria Lloyd to come outside. As Ira Lloyd stood outside the car attempting to persuade Gloria to come with them, Chism and Duke hugged and kissed on the front seat as Duke sat behind the steering wheel.
Gloria and Ira Lloyd got into an argument, and Ira stabbed Gloria with a knife several times in the stomach and once in the neck. Gloria's shouts attracted the attention of two neighbors, who unsuccessfuly tried to prevent Ira from pushing Gloria into the front seat of the car alongside Chism and Duke. Ira Lloyd climbed into the front seat also, and Duke drove off. One of the bystanders testified that she could not be sure but she thought she saw Brian's foot on the accelerator as the car left.
Lloyd ordered Duke to drive to Willow Point, near Cross Lake. When they arrived Chism and Duke, under Lloyd's direction, removed Gloria from the vehicle and placed her on some high grass on the side of the roadway, near a wood line. Ira was unable to help the two because his wooden leg had come off. Afterwards, as Lloyd requested, the two drove off, leaving Gloria with him.
There was no evidence that Chism or Duke protested, resisted or attempted to avoid the actions which Lloyd ordered them to take. Although Lloyd was armed with a knife, there was no evidence that he threatened either of his companions with harm.
Duke proceeded to drop Chism off at a friend's house, where he changed to male clothing. He placed the blood-stained women's clothes in a trash bin. Afterward, Chism went with his mother to the police station at 1:15 a.m. He gave the police a complete statement, and took the officers to the place where Gloria had been left with Ira Lloyd. The police found Gloria's body in some tall grass several feet from that spot. An autopsy indicated that stab wounds had caused her death. Chism's discarded clothing disappeared before the police arrived at the trash bin.
An accessory after the fact is any person, who, after the commission of a felony, shall harbor, conceal, or aid the offender, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe that he has committed the felony, and with the intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. La. R.S. 14:25.
This court has said that the statute requires that in order to convict an accused of being an accessory after the fact the state must prove that the accused acted with the specific intent to prevent the apprehension or punishment of a person he knows or has reason to believe has committed a felony. State v. Jackson, 344 So.2d 963 (La. 1977). The statement in the Jackson opinion to the effect that being an accessory after the fact is a specific intent crime was erroneous and not necessary to the decision of that case. In the absence of qualifying provisions, the terms "intent" and "intentional" have reference to "general criminal intent." La. R.S. 14:11. The statute contains no provisions qualifying the term "intent", and we have no reason to believe that the legislative aim was to exclude from its ambit offenders who have a general criminal intent. *fn1 Accordingly, we conclude that a person may be punished as an accessory after the fact if he aids an offender personally, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe that he has committed the felony, and has a specific or general intent that the offender will avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. *fn2 See R.S. 14:10; State v. Jackson, supra; W. Lafave & A. Scott, Criminal Law § 66 at 522-23 (1972); R. Perkins, Criminal Law 8.4 at 667 (2d ed. 1969).
An accessory after the fact may be tried and convicted, notwithstanding the fact that the principal felon may not have been arrested, tried, convicted, or amenable to justice. La. R.S. 14:25. However, it is still necessary to prove the guilt of the principal beyond a reasonable doubt, and an accessory after the fact cannot be convicted or punished where the principal felon has been acquitted. Id. Reporter's Comment. State v. Prudhomme 171 La. 743, 129 So. 736 (1930); State v. Philip 169 La. 468, 125 So. 451 (1929). Furthermore, it is essential to prove that a felony was committed and completed prior to the time the assistance was rendered the felon, although it is not also necessary that the felon have been already charged with the crime. La. R.S. 14:25; See Lafave & Scott, supra.
Defendant appealed from his conviction and sentence and argues that the evidence was not sufficient to support the judgment. Consequently, in reviewing the defendant's assigned error, we must determine whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that (a) a completed felony had been committed by Ira Lloyd before Brian Chism rendered him the assistance described below; (b) Chism knew or had reasonable grounds to know of the commission of the felony by Lloyd, and (c) Chism gave aid to Lloyd personally under circumstances that indicate either that he actively desired that the felon avoid or escape arrest, trial conviction, or punishment or that he believed that one of these consequences was substantially certain to result from his assistance.
There was clearly enough evidence to justify the finding that a felony had been completed before any assistance was rendered to Lloyd by the defendant. The record vividly demonstrates that Lloyd fatally stabbed his ex-wife before she was transported to Willow point and left in the high grass near a wood line. Thus, Lloyd committed the felonies of attempted murder, aggravated battery, and simple kidnapping, before Chism aided him in any way. A person cannot be convicted as an accessory after the fact to a murder because of aid given after the murderer's acts but before the victim's death, but under these circumstances the aider may be found to be an accessory after the fact to the felonious assault. Lafave and Scott, supra; Clark and Marshall, Law of Crimes p. 525 (7th Ed. 1967); J. Turner, Russel on Crime p. 166 (12th Ed. 1964); E. Dangel, Criminal Law p. 269 (1951); W. Burdick, Law of Crime p. 302 (1946); Warren and Bilas, Warren on Homicide p. 217 (Perm Ed. 1938); 2 Hawkins P.C. 448, c. 29, s. 35 (Cur. Ed.); 4 Blackstone Comm. 38. In this particular case, it is of no consequence that the defendant was formally charged with accessory after the fact to second degree murder, instead of accessory after the fact to attempted murder, aggravated battery or simple kidnapping. The defendant was fairly put on notice of the actual acts underlying the offense with which he was charged, and he does not claim or demonstrate in this appeal that he has been prejudiced by the form of the indictment. Cf. State v. Vanderhoff, 415 So.2d 190 (La. 1982) State v. Pichler, 355 So.2d 1302 (La. 1978).
The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Chism had reasonable grounds to believe that Lloyd had committed a felony before any assistance was rendered. In his confessions and his testimony Chism indicates that the victim was bleeding profusely when Lloyd pushed her into the vehicle, that she was limp and moaned as they drove to Willow Point, and that he knew Lloyd had inflicted her wounds with a knife. The Louisiana offense of accessory after the fact deviates somewhat from the original common law offense in that it does not require that the defendant actually know that a completed felony has occurred. Rather, it incorporates an objective standard ...