Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 310,662. Honorable Brady O'Callaghan, Judge.
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, By: Douglas Lee Harville, Counsel for Appellant.
DALE G. COX, District Attorney; GEORGE WINSTON, MEKISHA SMITH CREAL, JESSICA D. CASSIDY, Assistant District Attorneys, Counsel for Appellee.
Before WILLIAMS, CARAWAY, and GARRETT, JJ.
[49,889 La.App. 2 Cir. 1]
The defendant, Deandre D. Miles, pled guilty to armed robbery. The trial court sentenced him to 20 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The defendant appealed, contending that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. We affirm the defendant's conviction and sentence.
On the night of May 29, 2012, the victim answered a knock at his door in an apartment complex in Shreveport. A masked man armed with a handgun forced his way into the victim's apartment, threatened to kill the victim, and demanded money. After
taking $800 in cash from the victim, the intruder demanded more money, but the victim said he did not have any. (The victim later testified that the money taken was his tax refund.) A violent confrontation ensued. As they struggled over the gun, it discharged. Although the victim ultimately gained control of the weapon, it malfunctioned because his hand was on top of the slide. As a result, the victim sustained an injury to the inside of his hand between his thumb and forefinger, consistent with what is called a " slide bite." During the struggle, the victim was able to pull the robber's mask off. The robber produced a can of mace from his pocket and sprayed it in the victim's eyes. He then fled from the victim's apartment.
Two of the victim's neighbors heard the altercation, and one of them observed the struggle over the gun. The police were called, and the victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Among the items recovered at the [49,889 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] scene by the police were the gun, the projectile, the can of mace, and the camouflage mask worn by the robber. DNA evidence recovered from the mask matched that of the defendant. With this information, the police put together a six-person photo lineup. From this lineup, the victim identified the defendant as the robber who attacked him. An arrest warrant for the defendant was obtained.
In November 2012, the defendant was arrested and charged with armed robbery. In an interview with the police, he admitted being present at the victim's apartment. However, he claimed that the incident arose out of a failed drug deal wherein his cousin paid for marijuana which the victim then refused to produce. The defendant asserted that he merely accompanied his cousin to the victim's apartment to try to retrieve the money. He contended that his cousin was carrying a gun, which he threw into the apartment when the victim opened the door. According to the defendant, the cousin then ran away. However, none of the witnesses saw a second assailant, and the police who investigated the incident did not find any drugs at the victim's apartment.
Jury selection in the defendant's trial began on July 21, 2014. On July 22, 2014, the defendant pled guilty to armed robbery pursuant to a plea agreement whereby the state dismissed several other pending felony and misdemeanor charges. The following day, a sentencing hearing was held. The 23-year-old victim, who had moved to California after the robbery, traveled back to Louisiana in order to testify at the defendant's trial. The victim remained for the sentencing hearing and testified on behalf of the state. A married father of a young child, the victim was employed as a [49,889 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] manager for a telecommunications company. He recounted the horrific chain of events that occurred on the night of the home invasion and robbery. He further described the mental and financial distress the defendant's crime had caused him and his family and its continuing negative emotional impact. The victim also emphatically denied the defendant's accusation that he was a drug dealer. The defense called three witnesses -- the defendant's disabled mother, who testified that she needed her son to care for her; a volunteer chaplain at the correctional center where the defendant had been incarcerated since his arrest, who discussed his ...