ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 13-3873, DIVISION " J" . HONORABLE STEPHEN C. GREFER, JUDGE PRESIDING.
CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES, AS AMENDED, AFFIRMED; REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, MATTHEW CAPLAN, THOMAS SANDERSON, VINCENT J. PACIERA, JR., ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
ROBERT S. TOALE, ALEX K. KRIKSCIUN, ATTORNEYS AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, and Robert A. Chaisson.
ROBERT A. CHAISSON, J.
[14-607 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant, Larry St. Amant, Jr., appeals his convictions and sentences for various narcotics offenses. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences, as amended, and remand the matter for correction of errors patent as noted herein.
On October 22, 2013, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant with eight counts of distribution of cocaine, in violation of LSA-R.S. 40:967A (counts one, two, three, five, six, seven, nine, and eleven), and three counts of distribution of heroin, in violation of LSA-R.S. 40:966A (counts four, eight, and ten). Defendant pled not guilty and thereafter proceeded to trial before a twelve-person jury. After considering the evidence presented, the jury, on April 10, 2014, found defendant guilty as charged.
[14-607 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] On April 21, 2014, the trial court sentenced defendant, on each count, to imprisonment at hard labor for twenty years, with the first five years to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. In addition, the trial court ordered defendant's sentences to be served concurrently and imposed a fine of one thousand dollars.
The State thereafter filed a multiple offender bill of information on count four alleging defendant to be a second felony offender. After a hearing, the trial court found defendant to be a second felony offender, vacated its previously imposed sentence on count four, and resentenced defendant, pursuant to LSA-R.S. 15:529.1,
to imprisonment for thirty years in the Department of Corrections, to be served without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. Defendant now appeals.
This case involves eight separate purchases of narcotics by Mary Clare Ulasiewicz, an undercover agent for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, who used the name Tammy Smith to hide her identity. At trial, Agent Smith testified about the details of the transactions which occurred over the course of approximately one month.
June 25, 2013
As Agent Smith was driving on Bengal Road in River Ridge on June 25, 2013, she was flagged down by a black male who identified himself as " Wu" and asked her " what [she] was looking for." Agent Smith replied that she was looking for a " forty." Wu then asked Agent Smith to use her phone so he could call his " boy." Wu dialed phone number (504) 231-9916, and after a brief conversation [14-607 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] with the recipient of the phone call, he told Agent Smith to meet him on the next street over, Providence Lane.
Agent Smith drove to that location, parked on the street, and observed Wu knocking on the front door of a house located at 307 Providence. At that time a second black male, who identified himself as " Fresh," exited the house and approached the agent's vehicle with Wu. Fresh engaged Agent Smith in conversation while Wu approached a tan SUV that had driven up and stopped a couple of houses down on Providence Lane. Although Agent Smith could not see the driver of the tan SUV, she observed the driver roll down the window when Wu approached. Wu then walked back to Agent Smith with two rocks of crack cocaine for which she paid him forty dollars. After this transaction, Wu walked back to the SUV, and Agent Smith left the area.
A short time later, Agent Smith received a phone call from the number Wu had previously dialed. The caller identified himself as " LaLa" and asked Agent Smith if Wu had given her " [his] s**t." After Agent Smith confirmed that she had received it, LaLa stated that " his s**t was good and to hit him up later."
June 26, 2013
The following day, June 26, 2013, Agent Smith called LaLa at (504) 231-9916 and asked for more crack cocaine. LaLa told the undercover agent to call him when she was close to the River Ridge area. When Agent Smith called LaLa at the same phone number, he asked her how much money she had on her. After informing him that she had sixty dollars, he instructed her where to stop her vehicle. Agent Smith observed the tan SUV with a temporary tag containing numbers 155 and a black male, whom she believed to be LaLa, with " ear-to-shoulder" [14-607 La.App. 5 Cir. 5] hair and possibly a hooded jacket, inside the vehicle. A second black male exited the SUV, approached her vehicle, identified himself as Craig, conducted the drug transaction, and then returned to the SUV.
July 3, 2013
Agent Smith arranged for a third undercover purchase on July 3, 2013. On that day, the undercover agent called LaLa at (504) 231-9916 and arranged to buy sixty
dollars worth of crack cocaine. When Agent Smith entered the River Ridge area, she received a phone call from LaLa setting up the deal; however, Craig was the individual who exited the passenger side of the SUV and brought the crack cocaine to Agent Smith. After the transaction Agent Smith asked Craig for some " dog food," which is a street term for heroin. Craig gave her his phone number (338-1247), but Agent Smith never called him because she knew Craig was not the supplier and that LaLa was " always the one setting up the deal, calling to confirm the deal." A few moments ...