APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ACADIA, NO. CR 78,921. HONORABLE JOHN D. TRAHAN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael Harson, District Attorney, Lafayette, LA, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana.
Roger P. Hamilton, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Lafayette, LA, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana.
Annette Fuller Roach, Louisiana Appellate Project, Lake Charles, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Daniel Brandon Prince.
Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Billy Howard Ezell, Judges.
[14-740 La.App. 3 Cir. 1]
The State charged the defendant with introducing contraband into a penal institution after the defendant opened a package addressed to him that contained marijuana, among other prohibited items. After an initial mistrial due to a deadlocked jury, a second jury convicted the defendant of attempted introduction of contraband into a penal institution. The trial court thereafter denied the defendant's motion for new trial and imposed a five-year, hard labor sentence. Following habitual offender proceedings, that sentence was subsequently vacated and a twenty-five-year sentence imposed. The defendant appeals. For the following reasons, we reverse the defendant's conviction, enter a judgment of acquittal, reverse the habitual offender adjudication, and vacate and set aside the corresponding sentence.
Factual and Procedural Background
The State alleged that the defendant, Daniel B. Prince, was a detainee at the Acadia Parish Jail when officials received information that he would be receiving a package containing contraband. When the package arrived, with an envelope addressed to the defendant attached to it, a canine alerted to the package. Thereafter, the defendant was called into a room to open the package in front of officials. According to the State, the package was found to contain various items, including a substance identified as marijuana.
The State thereafter filed a bill of information charging the defendant with four counts of unlawful introduction of contraband into a penal institution, violations of La.R.S. 14:402. The charges related to contraband alleged to be marijuana, rolling
paper, sexual pictures, and tobacco. However, the trial court subsequently granted a motion to quash, dismissing the latter three charges.
[14-740 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] In July 2012, the remaining charge of unlawful introduction of contraband into a penal institution, marijuana, proceeded to trial before a jury. However, the trial resulted in a mistrial after the first jury became deadlocked. In a subsequent trial, the jury convicted the defendant of ...