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State v. Pierre

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 6, 2015


Page 349


Van H. Kyzar, District Attorney, Natchitoches, Louisiana, Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana.

Alex J. Washington, Washington & Wells, Shreveport, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/Appellant: Jamarlon Pierre.

Court composed of Jimmie C. Peters, Billy Howard Ezell, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.


Page 350

[14-1071 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] PHYLLIS M. KEATY, Judge.

Defendant, Jamarlon Pierre, appeals his convictions and sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm.


On December 12, 2011, Conswayla Mitchell was residing at her house in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where she lived with her fiancé, Tyrell Thomas. Thomas, a drug dealer, was out of town at the time. At approximately 9:00 a.m., two men kicked in her front door and entered her house. They proceeded into her bedroom where one of the men shot Mitchell. Before leaving, the men confiscated a gun and $2,200 in cash. After a tip was receivied by the police, Defendant and other individuals were arrested.

Defendant was charged with attempted first degree murder, aggravated burglary, and armed robbery. The Bill of Information was amended to attempted second degree murder, violations of La.R.S. 14:27(A) and La.R.S. 14:30.1(A)(1), and armed robbery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:64. On January 22, 2014, Defendant was found guilty following a jury trial. He was sentenced to forty-five years at hard labor for attempted second degree murder and forty-five years at hard labor for armed robbery. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

Defendant appeals his convictions and sentence, assigning the following three errors: (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of attempted second degree murder and armed robbery; (2) the trial court erred in sustaining the State's objection to Defendant's hearsay statements; (3) his sentence was unconstitutionally excessive.

[14-1071 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] DISCUSSION

I. Errors Patent

In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After

Page 351

reviewing the record, we find that there are no errors patent.

II. First Assignment of Error

In his first assignment of error, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of attempted second degree murder and armed robbery.

The standard of review utilized in a sufficiency of the evidence claim is " whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt of each of the essential elements of the crime charged." State v. Leger, 05-11, p. 91 (La. 7/10/06), 936 So.2d 108, 170, cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1221, 127 S.Ct. 1279, 167 L.Ed.2d 100 (2007) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979)). The Jackson standard of review is legislatively embodied in La.Code Crim.P. art. 821 and " does not provide the appellate court with a vehicle to substitute its own appreciation of the evidence for that of the fact-finder." State v. Pigford, 05-477, p. 6 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517, 521.

In this case, Defendant was charged with second degree murder, which is defined as the killing of a person " [w]hen the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm[.]" La.R.S. 14:30.1(A)(1). Attempt is defined as:

Any person who, having a specific intent to commit a crime, does or omits an act for the purpose of and tending directly toward the accomplishing of his object is guilty of an attempt to commit the offense intended; and it shall be immaterial whether, under the circumstances, he would have actually accomplished his purpose.

[14-1071 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] La.R.S. 14:27(A). Specific intent may be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the accused's actions. State v. Thomas, 10-269 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/6/10), 48 So.3d 1210, writ denied, 10-2527 (La. 4/1/11), 60 So.3d 1248, cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 196, 181 L.Ed.2d 102 (2011). Louisiana jurisprudence holds that pointing and firing a gun at a person indicates an intent to kill. Id.

Defendant was also charged with armed robbery, which is defined as " the taking of anything of value belonging to another from the person of another or that is in the immediate control of another, by use of force or intimidation, while armed with a dangerous weapon." La.R.S. 14:64(A).

At trial, Mitchell testified that on the morning in question, she looked out of her living room window and saw three men in a black Nissan pull into her driveway. She testified that the men exited the vehicle and she " could see the one dude that I could identify" standing on the side of the car. Mitchell testified that since she did not recognize the men, she went to her bedroom where she looked out of another window and saw two of the men walking to her front door. She testified that after she heard a knock, the men entered her front door and proceeded to her bedroom wherein one of the men shot her. Mitchell testified that the shooter wore a ski mask which covered his face. She testified that following the shooting, the men asked for money. Mitchell testified that she told them that money was located in a nearby nightstand, which also contained a gun. She testified that she never saw the money nor the gun following the incident. Mitchell testified that she subsequently provided the police with an identification of the man standing beside the black Nissan. She testified that she picked Jermaine LaCaze from a photographic lineup, identifying him as the man standing by the Nissan.

Page 352

[14-1071 La.App. 3 Cir. 4] Deputy Winfred McDowell, Jr., of the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Department, testified that he investigated the incident and that Mitchell stated that she was shot by the shorter of the two men who entered her house. He testified that a composite sketch was prepared of one of the men based upon a description Mitchell provided. McDowell testified that following dissemination of this composite sketch to the public, law enforcement received a tip that the sketch favored LaCaze. McDowell testified that based upon this information, a photograph lineup was taken and ...

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