ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 12-1373, DIVISION " N" . HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, ANNE WALLIS, JODY FORTUNATO, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
MARY CONSTANCE HANES, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Louisiana Appellate Project, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson and Stephen J. Windhorst.
STEPHEN J. WINDHORST, J.
[2014-238 La.App. 5 Cir 2] Defendant, Joshua Johnson, was convicted of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in violation of La. R.S. 14:62.2
(count one) and forgery in violation of La. R.S. 14:72 (count two). He was sentenced as a second felony offender on count one to an enhanced sentence of twenty-four years imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, the first year without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. On count two, the trial court sentenced defendant to ten years imprisonment at hard labor. This appeal followed.
On Wednesday, January 25, 2012, defendant burglarized a house located in Waggaman belonging to Shennette Julien. Taken from the house were a [2014-238 La.App. 5 Cir 3] checkbook, jewelry, shoes, clothes, video games, iPods, watches, cell phones, and a television. In addition, one of the stolen checks, made out to defendant for $500.00, was cashed.
When defendant was arrested, he admitted to participating in the burglary. He also admitted that he forged and cashed one of the victim's checks for $500.00. After his arrest, defendant's house was searched and items belonging to Ms. Julien were found. In addition, defendant's fingerprints were found in Ms. Julien's house, and his thumbprint was on the forged check.
At trial, Ms. Julien testified that in January of 2012 only she and her three children had keys to and permission to be in her house. She stated that she does not know defendant, nor had she given defendant permission to be in her house. Ms. Julien further stated that defendant apologized for burglarizing her home in person and by mail.
In defendant's sole assignment of error, he argues that the trial court erred in finding him competent to stand trial and in rejecting defense counsel's subsequent attempts to revisit the issue of defendant's competency. He contends his incompetence was evidenced on several occasions throughout the proceedings. First, despite the trial court's explanation to the contrary, defendant maintained the belief that he could not be prosecuted because of a due process violation. Second, defendant claims he was unable to completely understand the roles of his defense counsel, the prosecutor, and the judge. And third, unable to maintain a consistent defense at trial, defendant " suddenly decided to give up and throw himself on the mercy of the jury." In light of defendant's " profound confusion and irrational [2014-238 La.App. 5 Cir 4] actions throughout the proceedings," he argues the trial court erred in finding him competent to stand trial. The State contends otherwise.
Prior to trial, on June 25, 2012 the defense moved for the appointment of a competency commission, asserting that defendant " is unable to understand the nature of these proceedings, and [is] unable to make decisions regarding his case." On June 26, 2012, the trial court stayed the proceedings and ordered a competency examination of defendant be conducted by Doctors Salcedo and Richoux. On August 8, 2012, the doctors submitted ...