ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 11-2499, DIVISION " L" . HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, ANNE WALLIS, MYLES RANIER, JAMES MYERS, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE, THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
POWELL W. MILLER, Louisiana Appellate Project, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT, MEKALE T. THOMPSON.
Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Robert A. Chaisson, and Robert M. Murphy.
SUSAN M. CHEHARDY,
[14-764 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant, Mekale T. Thompson, appeals from his conviction of second degree murder and sentence of life imprisonment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm his conviction and sentence.
On August 18, 2011, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant with the second degree murder of Delast Francois. Defendant pled not guilty and the matter proceeded to trial by jury on April 1, 2014. Following a three-day trial, the twelve-person jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged. On May 2, 2014, following the denial of defendant's motions for new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal, the trial court sentenced defendant to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. This timely appeal followed.
At approximately 2:45 p.m. on the afternoon of April 27, 2011, Delast Francois, the victim, and Kasee Thornton, his girlfriend, arrived in Ms. Thornton's [14-764 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] vehicle at the house of Arthur Simmons at 2128 Huey P. Long Avenue in Gretna, Louisiana. The victim was friends with Mr. Simmons' nephew, Chandrick " Smurf" Harris, who often visited his uncle and was there that day. Defendant, who was also friends with Mr. Harris and the victim, was there too. When Ms. Thornton and the victim arrived, they found defendant and " another guy" standing on the front porch. Ms. Thornton remained in the vehicle while the victim exited, proceeded to the front porch, and began to exchange words with defendant. Ms. Thornton was unable to hear their conversation but soon observed the confrontation become physical as the two men grappled and traded punches. At this point, Mr. Harris exited the house and broke up the fight. Defendant then retreated inside while the victim proceeded to the front porch of the neighbor's house at 2130 Huey P. Long Avenue where he conversed with Joshua and Tedra Carter.
Ms. Thornton called to the victim, telling him they should leave. He refused and asked Ms. Thornton to open her trunk, in which she kept a baseball bat, but no firearms. She did not observe the victim retrieve the bat or anything else from the trunk, and watched as he returned to the neighbor's porch.
Five or ten minutes after defendant had left the scene, Ms. Thornton noticed him reappear with a " fairly large rifle." At this point, he chased the victim around the two houses and discharged the rifle four or five times. Ms. Thornton saw the victim, who was bleeding, come from behind the houses running towards her when he fell to the ground. Ms. Thornton called 9-1-1.
Several officers of the Gretna Police Department and EMS responded to find the victim unresponsive. He was pronounced dead on the scene. A subsequent [14-764 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] autopsy revealed that three gunshot wounds were the cause of death. At the murder scene, officers located four 7.62 x 39 mm spent casings--two in the front yard, two in the rear--and an AK-47 assault rifle stashed ...