This Decision is not final until expiration of the fourteen day rehearing period.
ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 12-4509, DIVISION " M" . HONORABLE HENRY G. SULLIVAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, GAIL D. SCHLOSSER, RACHEL AFRICK, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE, THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
POWELL W. MILLER, ATTORNEY AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT, DANIEL PARKS, SR.
Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Jude G. Gravois, and Robert A. Chaisson.
SUSAN M. CHEHARDY, Judge
[14-497 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant, Daniel Parks, Sr., appeals from his conviction of aggravated rape of a juvenile and sentence of life imprisonment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence.
On December 6, 2012, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant with aggravated rape upon a known juvenile (D.O.B. 2/26/72), wherein the victim was under the age of twelve, a violation of La. R.S. 14:42 (count one), and with possession of marijuana, second offense, a violation of La. R.S. 40:966(C) (count two). Defendant was arraigned and pled not guilty to both charges. Following a trial by jury, a twelve-person jury unanimously found defendant guilty as charged on December 12, 2013. On January 9, 2014, following the denial of defendant's motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and new trial, the trial court sentenced defendant on count one to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The State dismissed count two. Defendant's motion to reconsider sentence was denied that day and this appeal followed.
[14-497 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] FACTS
T.L., who was forty-one years old at the time of trial, testified that defendant raped her when she was seven or eight years old. She explained that she grew up in Waggaman, Louisiana, where her family resided next door to defendant, who had been best friends with her father, L.G., since high school. L.G. testified that he trusted defendant and allowed him to babysit T.L. and her younger brother, L.L. T.L. described one such occasion where defendant, while watching his own son along with T.L. and L.L. at his house, asked the children if they wanted to play hide and go seek, to which they all agreed. Defendant directed his son and L.L. to go to his son's room and count to ten. Once the two boys left, defendant grabbed T.L.'s hand and led her into his bathroom, shut the door, locked it, and turned off the light. When T.L. asked why the door was locked and the light was off, defendant explained, " so they wouldn't find us." Defendant laid T.L. down on the floor and removed her shorts and underwear. T.L. heard defendant's zipper and then felt defendant lay on top of her and insert his penis into her vagina. He began rocking up and down and was breathing heavily. T.L. told him that it hurt, and he told her that he was almost finished. L.L. and defendant's son then knocked on the door, saying that they had found them. Defendant put his hand over T.L.'s mouth and whispered into her ear: " If you ever tell anybody, I'll kill your dad and your brother." He then told her to get dressed and go play.
Years later, T.L. and her children attended a crawfish boil at defendant's house to visit with her father, who was often out of town for work. At some point that day, T.L. walked into the kitchen where defendant was stirring a pot of gumbo. She wanted to confront him, but was rendered speechless, so she stared at him and he stared back. He [14-497 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] then said, " Do you want to end up like Stephanie, do you?" T.L. understood defendant was referring to Stephanie Hebert, a childhood friend of T.L.'s who defendant also babysat and who was the victim of an unsolved murder in 1978 at the age of six. Interpreting defendant's remark as a threat, T.L. gathered her children and left.
Over a decade later, following Hurricane Katrina, T.L. had moved to Arkansas and in 2012, she called defendant, confronted him, and told him that she was going to contact the police. Indeed, on July 24, 2012, Lieutenant Ralph Sacks of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office received a long-distance telephone call from T.L., after which he set up a meeting between T.L. and Detective Kay Horne. In August of 2012, T.L. gave a statement identifying defendant as the man who raped her. Following T.L.'s statement, Detective Horne obtained a search warrant for defendant's residence. On August 17, 2012, during the search of defendant's residence, Lt. Sacks encountered defendant, advised him of his Miranda rights, and explained the nature of the officers' presence. Defendant indicated he understood his rights and agreed to accompany the officers back to the detective ...