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State v. Easter

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 24, 2015

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
RANDY EASTER

APPEALED FROM THE SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFOURCHE, STATE OF LOUISIANA. DOCKET NUMBER 502,169. HONORABLE ASHLY BRUCE SIMPSON, JUDGE.

Page 1052

Camille A. Morvant, II, District Attorney, René C. Gautreaux, Joseph S. Soignet, Assistant District Attorneys, Thibodaux, Louisiana, Attorneys for Appellee, State of Louisiana.

Cynthia Meyer, New Orleans, Louisiana; Jim Holt, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorneys for Defendant/Appellant, Randy Easter.

BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1053

[2014 1630 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] McDONALD, J.

The defendant, Randy Easter, was charged by amended bill of information with driving while intoxicated (DWI), fourth offense, in violation of La. R.S. 14:98.[1] The defendant entered a plea of not guilty. Subsequently, the trial court denied the defendant's motion to quash. After a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty as charged. The trial court denied the defendant's motion in arrest of judgment, motion for postverdict judgment of acquittal, and motion for new trial. The defendant was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment at hard labor, with the first two years required to be served without the benefit of parole. The trial court further imposed the payment of a $5,000.00 fine and court costs within two years of release from imprisonment and ninety days imprisonment in the Lafourche Parish Detention Center in default of payment of the fine and court costs. The defendant

Page 1054

now appeals, assigning error to the trial court's denial of the motion to quash and the trial by a six-person jury. For the following reasons, we affirm the conviction and the sentence.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On July 29, 2011, about 5:00 a.m., Brody Thibodaux, a former deputy with the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office, came into contact with the defendant while patrolling in the south area of the parish. As Thibodaux travelled southbound on Highway 3235, he observed a green Chevrolet pickup truck travelling on the shoulder of the highway. The vehicle travelled for approximately one hundred yards before it swerved into the right lane of travel without the use of a signal. At that point, Thibodaux conducted a traffic stop, and the driver was identified as the defendant. As Thibodaux requested the defendant's driver's license and proof of [2014 1630 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] insurance, he noticed that the defendant had slurred speech and the distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage. The defendant swayed when he stepped out of the vehicle and stood unsteadily. (R. 759) Thibodaux further observed that the defendant had a resting nystagmus (described as an eye-twitch). Thibodaux asked the defendant to submit to a standardized field sobriety test, but he refused. Thibodaux advised the defendant of his Miranda[2] rights, placed him under arrest, and transported him to the Galliano substation where he was advised of his rights regarding a chemical test and questioned. The defendant refused to sign a waiver of rights form. During the interview, the defendant confirmed that he had been driving and specifically indicated that he was going to the hospital, but refused to respond when asked if had been drinking alcohol. The defendant also refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. At 6:26 a.m., Thibodaux obtained a search warrant for a blood test. The defendant's blood was drawn at Lady of the Sea General Hospital at 7:05 a.m., collected and stored as evidence, and subsequently sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory for testing. According to the Scientific Analysis Report, the defendant's blood alcohol content was 0.19 grams percent. The defendant's three prior DWI offenses also occurred in Lafourche Parish.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE

In the first assignment of error, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash. The defendant contends that the ten year cleansing period after his first and second-offense DWI pleas (which convictions took place on the same day) had expired before he pled to third-offense DWI. He further specifically notes that when he pled guilty to first and second-offense DWI on October 25, 2001, prior to the 2008 legislative amendment of La. R.S. 14:98, the calculation of the ten-year cleansing period did not exclude the time period [2014 1630 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] awaiting trial. He argues that at the time of those two pleas, the trial court misinformed him in indicating that the cleansing period would begin on the date of the pleas and that any subsequent DWI arrest during that subsequent ten-year period would result in a charge of DWI third offense. Thus, the defendant concludes that his guilty pleas were not knowing or voluntary. The defendant further notes that he received a first ...


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