APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 80048 HONORABLE MARILYN CASTLE, JUDGE
Court composed of Ned E. Doucet, Jr., Chief Judge, Glenn B. Gremillion,
and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ned E. Doucet, Jr. Chief Judge
AFFIRMED. MOTION TO WITHDRAW GRANTED.
Shannon Scott Touchet was originally charged by grand jury indictment with first degree murder, but the charge was later amended to second degree murder. The Defense filed two motions to suppress, which were denied by the trial court after a hearing held June 6, 2002. Jury selection in the case commenced August 8, 2002, and the following day, the Defendant was found guilty as charged. The Defense waived the sentencing delays and the Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
On appeal, defense counsel has filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record pursuant to the procedures outlined in Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396 (1967). The Defendant filed a pro se brief, alleging three assignments of error. For the following reasons, we grant defense counsel's motion to withdraw and affirm the Defendant's conviction and sentence.
On March 18, 1998, Shannon Touchet, Ronald Benson and Reginald Basile borrowed their friend Nicholas Domingue's car and drove from Lake Charles to the newly-constructed home of Ronald and Rosanna Shaw in Youngsville with the intent to rob the Shaws. The Defendant, Shannon Touchet, had worked on the construction of the home and shared information regarding the victim's wealth with Benson and Basile. The three men planned the robbery approximately two weeks before it was carried out and the plan involved the possible murder of Ronnie Shaw.
On the night of the robbery, the three men left Lake Charles with a bag containing two loaded guns belonging to Benson and Basile, and three ski masks. The plan was that the Defendant was to stay outside while Benson and Basile went inside the house to "get the money." The three men hid behind the garage and when the Shaws returned home from grocery shopping, they were confronted outside their home by the three masked men. Benson approached Mr. Shaw, whose arms were full of grocery bags, and shot him twice. Basile then shot him once more. Benson ordered Mrs. Shaw at gunpoint to retrieve her husband's keys. She then opened the door and entered the house. She was taken at gunpoint to the closet in the master bathroom and was ordered to open the safe located there. After the contents of the safe were removed, Mrs. Shaw was led to the kitchen where she begged for her life. She was then locked in an area of the bathroom (the "toilet closet") and the assailants left.
According to the Defendant's statement, when Basile and Benson entered the house with Mrs. Shaw, he ran and got the car, which had been parked a distance away. The Defendant admitted receiving about three or four hundred of the five thousand dollars taken from the Shaws' home.
In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed by the court for errors patent on the face of the record. Our review of the record reveals no errors patent. MOTION:
In State v. Benjamin, 573 So.2d 528 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1990), the Fourth Circuit set forth the appropriate procedures for an appellate court to analyze an Anders case:
When appointed counsel has filed a brief indicating that no non-frivolous issues and no ruling arguably supporting an appeal were found after a conscientious review of the record, Anders requires that counsel move to withdraw. This motion will not be acted on until this court performs a thorough independent review of the record after providing the appellant an opportunity to file a brief in his or her own behalf. This court's review of the record will consist of (1) a review of the bill of information or indictment to insure the defendant was properly charged; (2) a review of all minute entries to insure the defendant was present at all crucial stages of the proceedings, the jury composition and verdict were correct and the sentence is legal; (3) a review of all pleadings in the record; (4) a review of the jury sheets; and (5) a review of all transcripts to determine if any ruling provides an arguable basis for appeal.
This court has performed an independent, thorough review of the record, including pleadings, minute entries, the bill of information and transcripts. The Defendant was originally charged by grand jury indictment with first degree murder. The State subsequently amended the charge to second degree murder, which is permissible. See State v. Offord, 95-290 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/4/95), 663 So.2d 296. The Defendant was present at all crucial stages of the proceedings and he was convicted by a unanimous verdict of the charged offense. The Defendant subsequently received a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation or suspension ...