ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 09-6467, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE RAYMOND S. STEIB, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY TERRY M. BOUDREAUX ANDREA F. LONG SHANNON K. SWAIM EMILY E. BOOTH ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS 24th JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT Parish of Jefferson COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE
BRUCE G. WHITTAKER ATTORNEY AT LAW Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT
Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg Wicker, and Robert A. Chaisson
ROBERT A. CHAISSON JUDGE
Defendant, Ozaki R. Trice, appeals his conviction for aggravated rape, alleging that the evidence presented by the State was insufficient to support his conviction. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence and remand the matter with instructions.
On December 10, 2009, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant on one count of aggravated rape, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:42. Defendant pled not guilty at his arraignment on December 14, 2009. The matter proceeded to trial before a twelve-person jury on May 6, 2014. After considering the evidence presented, the jury, on May 8, 2014, returned a verdict of guilty as charged. On June 11, 2014, the trial court denied defendant's motion for new trial and motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal. Thereafter, the court sentenced defendant to life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.Defendant now appeals.
This case involves allegations that defendant committed aggravated rape upon M.H. by anal copulation between October 20, 2007, and July 3, 2009. At the time of the incidents, M.H., who was around eight years old, lived with his mother, Ms. H., his siblings, and his mother's boyfriend, Chris Taylor, at the home of defendant's mother, Ms. Evatte Trice.
On July 8, 2009, M.H. went to one of his regular counseling sessions with Nishia Talwar, who was treating him for behavioral and emotional disorders, and disclosed to her that defendant had molested him. M.H. advised Ms. Talwar that he did not share this information with his mother because he was concerned over being "fussed at." Ms. Talwar reported this information to the appropriate authorities, and on the following day, Deputy Stan Kerr of the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office was dispatched in response to a call about an aggravated rape.
After arriving at the victim's residence on Jordan Drive, Deputy Kerr met with Ms. H. and Darrick Lang, a child protection investigator with the Department of Social Services. During his investigation on the scene, Deputy Kerr learned that the sexual abuse consisted of five incidents of anal penetration which occurred at two different locations, that the alleged perpetrator was defendant, that the victim was M.H., and that the last alleged rape occurred between July 2 and July 3. Once Deputy Kerr gathered this information, he notified and turned the matter over to the detective bureau. In addition, Mr. Lang conducted interviews with M.H., Ms. H., and the other children in the house, and concluded that there was "enough substantial evidence to state that it is a valid case." Based on Mr. Lang's report, M.H. was removed from the family's home.
M.H. was subsequently brought to Children's Hospital for a physical examination. Dr. Adrienne Atzemis performed the exam, and at trial, she testified that the results of the exam were "normal" for a person of M.H.'s age. However, she also testified that most children who have been sexually abused have a normal exam, meaning that there is no tear, redness, bruise, or other visible indications.
Thereafter, on July 15, 2009, M.H. was brought to the Children's Advocacy Center for a forensic interview. During his interview with Staci Lanza, M.H. recounted specific incidents where defendant would pull down his pants and "put his penis in [M.H.'s] butt." Based ...