ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 11-5008, DIVISION " I" . HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, JUDGE PRESIDING.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Jefferson, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, MATTHEW CAPLAN, DOUGLAS W. FREESE, SUNNY D. FUNK, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
BRUCE G. WHITTAKER, ATTORNEY AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and Stephen J. Windhorst.
[14-893 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] MARC E. JOHNSON,
Defendant, Lameeka McKinney, appeals her conviction and 15-year sentence for manslaughter. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Defendant was indicted on January 19, 2012 and charged with second degree murder of a known juvenile with a date of birth of October 3, 2010, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1. Defendant pled not guilty and filed several pre-trial motions, including motions to suppress her statement and the evidence which were denied after a hearing. On January 28, 2013, the State filed a motion for conflict of interest inquiry relating to defense counsel, Martin Regan's, representation of Defendant on the basis Mr. Regan's law firm employed Gary Wainright, who had represented co-defendant, Robert Scott, as a paralegal. Mr. Wainright had [14-893 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] represented co-defendant Scott until July 23, 2012 when he withdrew from representation because of his suspension from the practice of law. After a hearing, the trial court found Mr. Regan was laboring under an actual conflict of interest and ordered Mr. Regan withdrawn as counsel for Defendant. Defendant filed a writ application in this Court challenging the trial court's ruling, which was denied. State v. McKinney, 13-68 (La.App. 5 Cir. 1/30/13) (unpublished writ disposition). Thereafter, the trial court appointed IDB counsel to represent Defendant.
Five months later, on May 20, 2013, Mr. Regan filed a motion to re-enroll as counsel, which the trial court ordered stricken after a hearing citing Mr. Regan's conflict of interest. Defendant filed a writ application from this ruling with both this Court and the Louisiana Supreme Court, both of which were denied. State v. McKinney, 13-548 (La.App. 5 Cir. 8/9/13) (unpublished writ disposition); State v. McKinney, 13-2166 (La. 12/4/13); 129 So.3d 535.
On July 10, 2014, the State amended the indictment to charge Defendant with manslaughter in violation of La. R.S. 14:31. On that same date, Defendant withdrew her not guilty plea and pled guilty to the amended charge of manslaughter. During the plea colloquy, the State recounted the following factual basis for the plea: " ...it was determined that the cause of death in the case was due to dehydration and liberal lacerations. It is the State's contention that it is through the neglect of Miss McKinney and Mr. Scott's, that the death of their minor child occurred." In accordance with the plea agreement, the trial judge sentenced Defendant to 15 years imprisonment at hard labor.
Appellate counsel's brief contains no assignments of error and sets forth that it is filed in accordance with Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), and State v. Jyles, 96-2669 (La. 12/12/97); 704 So.2d 241 [14-893 La.App. 5 Cir. 4]( per curiam ), which set forth the procedure appellate counsel should follow when, upon conscientious review of a case, counsel finds an appeal would be wholly frivolous.
In his brief, appellate counsel reviewed the procedural history of the case and stated that, after a review of the record, he could not find any non-frivolous issues to present on appeal. Appellate counsel specifically noted that Defendant entered an unqualified guilty plea, which waived all non-jurisdictional defects. Appellate counsel observed that Defendant indicated to the trial court that she had not been forced, coerced, or threatened to enter the guilty plea and that she understood her rights, the charge, and the sentence she would receive. Counsel submits that Defendant's answers throughout the guilty plea colloquy ...