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State v. Canales

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 10, 2014


Page 1184


Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, Scott G. Vincent, Assistant District Attorney, PARISH OF ORLEANS, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.


(Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins).


Page 1185

Rosemary Ledet, Judge.

[2014-0663 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] In this criminal appeal, the defendant, Juan Canales, Sr., seeks review of his conviction and sentence for attempted manslaughter. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


On June 20, 2012, Mr. Canales was charged by bill of information with attempted second degree murder of Marvin Tran, in violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and 14:30.1. On July 12, 2012, Mr. Canales entered a plea of not guilty. On August 16, 2012, at a preliminary hearing, the trial court found probable cause for the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter.

On May 8, 2013, at the conclusion of a two-day trial, a twelve-person jury found Mr. Canales guilty of attempted manslaughter, in violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and 14:31. On May 24, 2013, the trial court sentenced Mr. Canales to fifteen years with credit for time served.


On May 26, 2012, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Mr. Tran and his brother, David Tran, went to the Shamrock Bar on Carrolton Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana to meet a few of David's friends. Mr. Tran and David were celebrating [2014-0663 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] David's graduation; and they had gone to dinner and a movie before going to the Shamrock. Approximately five hundred to six hundred people were at the Shamrock that night. Mr. Tran testified that this was his first time visiting the Shamrock[1] and that he drank approximately three or four beers while he was there.

Jimmy Whitehead, a friend of Mr. Canales' from work, testified that he also went to the Shamrock that night to meet Mr. Canales and a few other friends. Mr. Whitehead testified that while he and Mr. Canales were sitting at a booth drinking beers, Mr. Canales pointed out Mr. Tran and said that he was afraid Mr. Tran would do something.[2] Mr. Whitehead testified that Mr. Canales was nervous and seemed afraid of Mr. Tran. He further testified that he was not sure how much Mr. Canales drank but he indicated that Mr. Canales did not appear to be drunk.

Jonathan Pennington, who went to high school with both Mr. Tran and Mr. Canales, was bartending the side bar next to the men's restroom at the Shamrock that night. He testified that early in the night Mr. Tran came up to him and ordered a drink and said hello. Later that night he also saw Mr. Canales. He testified that Mr. Canales ordered a Red Bull.[3] He also mentioned that Mr. Tran was at the bar and that they had " some kind of beef" about an ex-girlfriend. Mr. Pennington told him to take it elsewhere and to not start anything at the Shamrock.[4]

Page 1186

[2014-0663 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] Just before 3:00 a.m., Mr. Tran told Charles Badinger, one of David's friends, that he was going to the bathroom. He walked across the bar to the bathroom and proceeded to use the urinal. As he was using the urinal, he felt someone standing behind him. When he stepped to the right and attempted to look back, he was suddenly struck on the side of the head by someone. Mr. Tran testified that the person kept hitting him so he turned around and started grabbing on the person's shirt and hand to stop him. He was punched in his face and thought he was being punched in his body. He testified that the blows to his body felt weird and he took a step back and fell to his knees. At this point, he saw the knife[5] and realized it was Mr. Canales who was attacking him.[6] He testified that he attempted to catch Mr. Canales' wrists at this point, but he missed. Mr. Canales then slipped, or somehow got on his knees, and hit Mr. Tran with the knife. Mr. Tran grabbed Mr. Canales' wrists as hard as he could; he saw his own blood all around his body. He then looked Mr. Canales in the eyes and told him he did not have to do this and that it did not have to end like this. Mr. Tran testified that he kept calling God's name. Somebody then pulled Mr. Canales off of him, and he heard the knife drop to the ground. Mr. Tran testified that he started to go into shock, and a female came on top of him and said not to move because his intestines were sticking out.

Mr. Pennington testified that when he was cleaning up that night, a customer came up to him and told him that someone was being stabbed in the bathroom. He [2014-0663 La.App. 4 Cir. 4] told the door man who was working security, Andrew Armstrong, and a bartender standing next to him, Melissa Trahan. He also found the general manager, Eric Bornholdt, and called 911. He and Mr. Bornholdt realized that a police officer was already downstairs investigating a separate incident in the parking lot. They ran to get the officer.[7]

Meanwhile, Mr. Armstrong ran into the bathroom to assess the situation. He testified that when he first entered, he saw Mr. Tran hunched over on the ground with Mr. Canales on top of him. Mr. Armstrong noticed that Mr. Canales had a knife in his hand. He secured Mr. Canales' hand that was holding the knife and instructed him to let go of it. Mr. Canales complied and informed Mr. Armstrong that he was defending himself. Mr. Armstrong described Mr. Canales as calm and cooperative.[8] He noticed injuries to Mr. Tran, but he ...

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