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State v. Bratton

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 14, 2015

STATE OF LOUISIANA, Appellee
v.
FRANK BRATTON, Appellant

Page 938

Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 200472. Honorable Allen Parker Self, Jr., Judge.

LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, By: Teresa Culpepper Carroll, Counsel for Appellant.

J. SCHUYLER MARVIN, District Attorney, JOHN M. LAWRENCE, ANDREW JACOBS, LANE PITTARD, Assistant District Attorneys, Counsel for Appellee.

Before STEWART, DREW and PITMAN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 939

[49,434 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] DREW, J.

Frank Bratton was unanimously convicted of second degree murder for the killing of Ryan Hammett. The defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefits. He appeals his conviction and sentence. We affirm.

FACTS

This senseless killing occurred on May 24, 2013, at Bossier City's Siesta Motel, a single-story structure laid out in the shape of a " U." Many of its guests are long-term residents. This was the case for the defendant, the victim, and the victim's girlfriend, Jeannie Welch. Bratton and Hammett lived in rooms on opposite sides of the " U" and had become friends at the motel.

Jeannie Welch testified that:

o the relationship between the two men was quite social, and the two had never fought before the date of this event; [1]
o either the day before or the day of this incident, a woman named Veronica had moved into Bratton's motel room;
o she and Hammett gave Veronica $20 to buy chicken;
o this she did, leaving the food with them, and returning to Bratton's room;
o there was no argument or unpleasantness with Veronica at this point;
[49,434 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] o she and Hammett remained in their room and decided to eat their meal later during a basketball game on television;
o Hammett had a mixed drink; and
o shortly afterward, violence broke loose.[2]

Joel Frady, another resident, saw Bratton and Hammett arguing in [49,434 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] the parking

Page 940

lot. He unsuccessfully tried to get Bratton to disengage, but the combatants argued some more, and the melee resumed.[3]

Charles Yoder, another long-term resident of the Siesta Motel, testified that:

o he was inside his room, about to take a shower, when the fight began;
o he saw the defendant and Hammett fighting in the parking lot;
o he did not see either man actually hit the other;
o he never saw either man fall to the ground;
o when the fight ended, he heard Bratton say " I've got something for you" as he returned to his room;
o he saw through the defendant's window that the defendant was rummaging through a bowl atop a radio in the room;
o he saw Bratton leave his room and walk back toward Hammett's room;
o Veronica was begging Bratton to stop;
o he didn't see Bratton carrying anything, although he saw that one of Bratton's hands was " clasped" or " cupped" ;
o Welch was standing in the doorway of Hammett's room;
o he heard Bratton say " move, bitch" and then push her to the ground;
o he (Yoder) helped Ms. Welch to her feet and did not see Bratton enter Hammett's room, but soon after saw the defendant swinging at ...

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