ON SUPERVISORY WRITS TO CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS.
For Applicant: Hon. James D. Caldwell, Attorney General, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE; Hon. Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, Donna R. Andrieu, Assistant District Attorney, Matthew Culver Kirkham, Assistant District Attorney, ORLEANS PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.
For Respondent: Loren Scott Sherman, Seth Daniel Tychsen Wayne, ORLEANS PARISH PUBLIC DEFENDERS OFFICE.
This case is in a pretrial posture concerning the admissibility of evidence of defendant's past " sexually assaultive behavior," which is not statutorily defined as a sexual offense.
At a pretrial hearing on the State's motion to introduce evidence pursuant to La. Code Evid. art. 412.2 of defendant's 1997 " sexually assaultive behavior," the Trial Court ruled the evidence was inadmissible because defendant's alleged conduct did not meet the " elements of a sexual battery" as defined by state law. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Court and denied supervisory writs. For the following reasons, we reverse the Trial Court, finding Article 412.2 does not strictly limit evidence of past " sexually assaultive behavior" to sexual offenses defined by state law, and remand this matter to the Trial Court for further proceedings.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The defendant, Gary Layton, is accused of forcibly raping a woman who had been staying at his home. On November 2, 2013, he allegedly beat the victim to the point of causing visible injuries, accused her of stealing from his wallet, pulled her pants down, and vaginally raped her.
On December 12, 2013, the defendant was charged by a bill of information.
He entered a plea of not guilty. The State subsequently filed a notice of intent in accordance with La. Code Evid. art. 412.2 to introduce evidence of two alleged incidents of defendant's past sexually assaultive behavior. First, in 1977, the defendant committed aggravated rape on another victim. Outside of a local bar in the early morning hours, the defendant coerced the victim to give him a ride in her car. He began to fondle her and asked if she would have oral or vaginal sex with him. When she refused, he led her to believe he was armed with a handgun. He took her to a gazebo in Audubon Park. There, he raped her. Shortly after, police officers saw the couple and, after the victim relayed what had occurred, the defendant was arrested. The defendant was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity.
In the second alleged incident, the defendant approached the victim on St. Charles Avenue on August 24, 1997, at approximately 2:00 a.m. He placed a knife to her throat and ordered her to remove her shirt. The victim complied, and the defendant began to fondle her breasts. A passerby saw the incident and attacked the defendant, who then fled. Police officers located him in the area and the victim positively identified him. A police report was completed; however, the district attorney declined to prosecute the defendant for this charge.
The defendant filed a motion to exclude evidence of these incidents. At a hearing on the motions, the Trial Court ruled the 1977 charge was admissible but excluded the 1997 charge, finding it was not admissible as " sexually assaultive behavior" under La. Code Evid. art. 412.2, because no allegations of touching of the victim's genitals or anus were made as required by the state statute defining sexual battery. The Fourth Circuit denied supervisory writs, agreeing with the Trial Court the 1997 charge " did not amount to sexually assaultive behavior as ...