ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ST. CHARLES, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 11,349, DIVISION " C" . HONORABLE EMILE R. ST. PIERRE, JUDGE PRESIDING.
BRUCE G. WHITTAKER, Louisiana Appellate Project, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT, RICKY BRUCE, JR.
Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg Wicker, and Hans J. Liljeberg.
[14-877 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] SUSAN M. CHEHARDY,
Defendant, Ricky Bruce, Jr., appeals from his
conviction of aggravated rape. For the reasons that follow, we affirm
defendant's convictions and sentences.
On August 22, 2011, a St. Charles Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant with aggravated rape in violation of La. R.S. 14:42 (count one) and aggravated burglary in violation of La. R.S. 14:60 (count two). Defendant was arraigned and pled not guilty to both charges.
Defendant's motion to suppress statement was denied on October 29, 2013, to which the defense objected. Following a two-day jury trial, on January 16, 2014, a twelve-person jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged on both counts. Defendant's motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and new trial were denied on April 29, 2014. On June 25, 2014, defendant was sentenced on count one to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. On count two, defendant was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment at hard labor, to be served concurrently with the sentence on count [14-877 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] one. Defendant's motion to reconsider sentence was denied on July 28, 2014 and this timely appeal followed.
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on July 10, 2011, after ending an eight-month relationship with defendant a few days earlier, C.G., the victim in this case, heard loud pounding and screaming at her front door in the Lakewood Apartments in Luling, Louisiana. She recognized the voice as defendant's. As she opened the door to ask him to leave, defendant kicked the
door in, forced his way in, and pushed her to the floor upon which she struck her face. Defendant, who was " completely enraged," hurled obscenities at the victim and told her, " You always heard I was a monster. I'm going to show you what kind of monster I am today." As she tried to get up, defendant pushed her back down and proceeded to the kitchen where he located her purse and dumped it out, looking for drugs and money. He told the victim, " I'm having...fun f**king you up because I'm going to f**k you up for the rest of the day and I'm going to have so much fun torturing you. And if I leave and you call the police, I'll come back and kill you."
In an effort to calm defendant down, the victim asked him to sit on the sofa so they could talk. Defendant replied: " I don't want to talk. We're going to f**k." He then pushed the victim's head towards his groin and unzipped his pants, forcing a portion of his penis into the victim's mouth. The victim implored him to stop, complaining that he was hurting her. Defendant forced her into the kitchen, placed his hands around her neck, and told her, " I could kill you right now, but that would be too easy." In her sustained effort to calm defendant down, the victim asked him to join her outside for a cigarette. He agreed. At trial, the victim explained she [14-877 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] thought she would be able to get somebody's attention while outside. However, she was unable to do so. Nor was she able to flee since the yard was fenced in and the gate padlocked. So the victim continued to try to calm defendant who was pacing back and forth. They eventually returned back inside and sat on the sofa. There, the victim attempted to direct the conversation to the topic of defendant's children. Defendant replied: " We're going to f**k."
In response, the victim proposed that defendant proceed upstairs and rest in her bedroom. Defendant agreed, but once there, he pulled off the victim's underwear and shorts and began performing oral sex on the victim, to which she told him repeatedly, " Please stop. You're hurting me." He then penetrated the victim's vagina with his penis. In an attempt to extricate herself from the situation, the victim retreated into her bathroom, but defendant soon followed. He propped her up on the countertop and again penetrated her vagina with his penis. She repeated: " You're hurting me, you're hurting me. Please stop, please stop." Defendant eventually stopped and soon fell asleep in the victim's bed. The victim grabbed her keys and fled the house in her car. It was approximately 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. She made her way to the house of a friend, Laurie Fisher, who resided two streets away on St. Nicholas Street.
Ms. Fisher testified that after receiving a telephone call from C.G. on July 10, 2011 during which C.G. was crying and very upset, C.G. arrived at her house. According to Ms. Fisher, C.G. was shaking, " very hysterical," had swollen, red eyes, and was having difficulty speaking. While there, C.G. called the police. At approximately 3:29 p.m., the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office received the 9-1-1 call from the victim, in which she stated that defendant had forced his way into her apartment, pushed her, hit her, and told her that he would kill her if she called the police. This 9-1-1 call did not include an allegation of rape.
[14-877 La.App. 5 Cir. 5] Deputy Terry Dabney of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office responded to C.G.'s apartment. Along with other officers, Deputy Dabney entered the apartment to find defendant sleeping in the upstairs bedroom, where he was placed under arrest.
Meanwhile, Detective Jeremy Pitchford, the lead detective in this case, met with the victim at Ms. Fisher's residence, where he encouraged her to go to the hospital. Eleven photographs taken during her hospital visit were introduced into evidence. The victim described each photograph as it was shown to the jury. She explained that her face was a " little swollen on the side where I hit the ground." Other photographs depict various bruises on her legs, arms, and breasts. C.G. testified that most of these bruises were caused by the incident that day, but some may have been from previous incidents. For instance, she explained that ...