ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 11-5033, DIVISION " G" . HONORABLE ROBERT A. PITRE, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
CONVICTION AND SENTENCE AFFIRMED.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, ANDREA F. LONG, ANGEL G. VARNADO, MATTHEW R. CLAUSS, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
PRENTICE L. WHITE, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Louisiana Appellate Project, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert M. Murphy, and Hans J. Liljeberg.
MARC E. JOHNSON, J.
[14-735 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant, Wilson Bell, appeals his conviction for armed robbery with a firearm claiming the evidence was insufficient to prove his identity as the perpetrator. For the reasons that follow, we affirm his conviction and sentence.
Defendant was charged in a bill of information with armed robbery with a handgun in violation of La. R.S. 14:64 The
State subsequently filed a motion to invoke the firearm sentencing provision of La. R.S. 14:64.3. Defendant pled not guilty and filed several pre-trial motions, including motions to suppress the identification, his statement, and the evidence, which were denied after a hearing. Defendant waived his right to a jury trial and proceeded to a bench trial on April [14-735 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] 29, 2014. The trial judge found Defendant guilty as charged, specifically finding Defendant used a firearm in the commission of the armed robbery. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total of 25 years without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, specifying the sentence was 20 years plus an additional five years under the firearm enhancement.
The State filed a multiple offender bill of information alleging Defendant to be a second felony offender based on a 2010 predicate conviction for simple burglary. Defendant denied the allegations of the multiple bill and a hearing was held. The trial court subsequently adjudicated Defendant a multiple offender. The trial court vacated Defendant's original sentence and imposed an enhanced sentence of 49 1/2 years without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
On the evening of September 24, 2011, Luis Medina arrived home from work when a car pulled up behind him and a man holding a gun exited the vehicle. The armed man approached Mr. Medina and started removing everything from his pockets. The man, who Mr. Medina later identified as Defendant, took his car keys and $160 cash out of his wallet. Defendant then left in Mr. Medina's 2002 Hyundai Sonata. Mr. Medina immediately called 9-1-1 and reported the robbery.
Detective Marc Macaluso, with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (JPSO), was assigned to investigate the case. During his investigation, he located video surveillance from a neighbor's house across the street from Mr. Medina's residence, which captured the robbery. On September 26, 2011, Det. Macaluso entered Mr. Medina's license plate information into the Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) system. The ALPR system registered two hits matching Mr. Medina's license plate, one from the night of the robbery and a " live" one at [14-735 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] 1:58 p.m. on September 26, 2011. As a result of the ALPR information, police located Mr. Medina's vehicle at the Oakwood Shopping Center. The police set up surveillance on the vehicle and observed five black males, all wearing khaki pants and white button-down shirts, exit the mall and enter the vehicle. The police " took down the vehicle" and took all five occupants into custody.
Det. Macaluso interviewed three of the occupants, two of whom, David Taylor and Emanuel Lee, identified Defendant as the gunman and driver in the earlier armed robbery of the vehicle. Thereafter, Det. Macaluso obtained ...