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State v. Washington

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

February 11, 2015

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
RODNEY WASHINGTON

ON APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 11,104, DIVISION " B" . HONORABLE MARY H. BECNEL, JUDGE PRESIDING.

THOMAS F. DALEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, J. PHILIP PRESCOTT, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Fortieth Judicial District, Parish of St. John the Baptist, LaPlace, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

BRUCE G. WHITTAKER, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Louisiana Appellate Project, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Robert A. Chaisson, and Robert M. Murphy.

OPINION

Page 747

[14-522 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] ROBERT A. CHAISSON, J

Defendant, Rodney Washington, appeals his conviction and sentence for attempted manslaughter. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence, as amended, and remand the matter with instructions.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 16, 2011, a St. John the Baptist Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant for the second degree murder of John Wactor, in violation of LSA-R.S. 14:30.1 (count one), and the attempted second degree murder of Carolyn Coleman, in violation of LSA-R.S. 14:27 and LSA-R.S. 14:30.1 (count two). In February of 2013, defendant proceeded to trial before a twelve-person jury. After considering the evidence presented, the jury found defendant not guilty as to the murder of John Wactor. However, as to the charge of attempted second degree murder of Carolyn Coleman, the jury was unable to reach a verdict, and the trial court declared a mistrial as to that count.

[14-522 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] In June of 2013, the State retried defendant on the charge of attempted second degree murder of Carolyn Coleman. At the conclusion of trial, the twelve-person jury found defendant guilty of attempted manslaughter. Defendant thereafter filed a motion for new trial, a motion for a post-judgment verdict of acquittal, and a motion in arrest of judgment, all of which were denied by the trial court.

On December 17, 2013, the trial court sentenced defendant as a multiple offender to twenty years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. However, the trial court subsequently granted defendant's motion to reconsider sentence and resentenced defendant to fifteen years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.[1] Defendant now appeals.

FACTS

This case stems from shootings that occurred in Laplace on March 28, 2011, which resulted in the death of John Wactor and injury to Carolyn Coleman.

According to Ms. Coleman, in the early morning hours of March 28, she left an off-track betting facility, and as she was walking down the street, two men in a truck, subsequently identified as Cornell Bolden and defendant, drove up next to her. After engaging in conversation with the men, Ms. Coleman got into the truck being driven by defendant. The three drove to Mr. Bolden's house so he could get his truck, and they then met at a Laplace gas station.

Page 748

While there, Mr. Bolden bought Ms. Coleman some drinks, gave defendant some money, and left by himself.

Ms. Coleman and defendant talked about going to a motel to have sex, but defendant told her that he did not have enough money. Ms. Coleman then called [14-522 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] her close friend, John Wactor, and got permission to use his residence. The two proceeded to Mr. Wactor's trailer on Fir Street. Before the two exited the truck, defendant paid Ms. Coleman sixty dollars for sex. They then went inside the trailer, and Ms. Coleman introduced defendant to Mr. Wactor and confirmed that it was still okay for them to use the bedroom. Ms. Coleman and defendant proceeded to the bedroom and had sex. After they finished and dressed, the two left the bedroom and walked by Mr. Wactor, who was sitting on the sofa, to get to the door. Ms. Coleman was apparently in front of defendant, and as she turned the door knob, she heard a " pop." She immediately opened the door and ran until she fell into a ditch. Not realizing that she had been shot, Ms. Coleman went back to the trailer to see what was going on; however, since she saw that defendant's truck was still there, she did not go inside but rather stood outside the door. According to Ms. Coleman, defendant was positioned behind his truck and started shooting at her. Ms. Coleman pleaded with defendant not to kill her, at which point he returned to his truck and left. She proceeded to walk down the steps and experienced pain in her back, chest, and leg, which resulted from being shot four times. After defendant left, Ms. Coleman began screaming for someone to help her. A neighbor, who heard the gunshots and Ms. Coleman's screams for help, called 9-1-1.

Deputy John Wetzel and Deputy Arthur Flott were dispatched to the scene. Upon arriving, Deputy Wetzel saw Ms. Coleman lying across the steps to the trailer, and upon entering the back of the trailer, observed Mr. Wactor with a single gunshot wound to the face. Ms. Coleman was ...


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