from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 321903 Honorable Brady D.
D. ROSS Counsel for Appellant.
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.
JEFFERSON Assistant District Attorney.
WILLIAMS, LOLLEY and GARRETT, JJ.
criminal appeal by the defendant, Stephen Michael McGill
arises from the First Judicial District Court, Parish of
Caddo, for the State of Louisiana. Following a jury trial,
McGill was convicted of aggravated second degree battery, in
violation of La. R.S. 14:34.7; subsequently, he was
adjudicated a fourth-felony offender and sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor without benefits. The defendant
now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm the
conviction, but vacate the habitual offender adjudication and
sentencing and remand for further proceedings.
March 8, 2014, an anonymous caller to 911 reported that
Cynthia Darby was being beaten by McGill at a residence on
Ranch Lane in Shreveport, Louisiana. The caller reported that
McGill was armed with a knife. The police responded to the
home and found Darby severely beaten with a stab wound to her
left chest/shoulder area. McGill consented to a search of the
residence and produced a knife out of his boot. He was taken
into custody, and Darby was transported to a hospital for
treatment. She identified McGill as her attacker. McGill was
arrested and charged by bill of information, with aggravated
second degree battery.
sanity commission found McGill competent to proceed, a jury
trial commenced with McGill representing himself, assisted by
indigent defender appointed stand-by counsel. During the
course of the trial, the trial court granted McGill's
request that his stand-by counsel take over his
representation, and for the remainder of the trial, McGill
was represented by counsel. At the conclusion of the
evidence, the jury found McGill guilty as charged.
McGill's motion for new trial and motion for post-verdict
judgment of acquittal were denied.
state filed a habitual offender bill of information, and
McGill was subsequently adjudicated a fourth-felony offender
and sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment,
without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of
sentence. A motion to reconsider sentence was denied, and
this appeal ensued. McGill's appellate counsel urges four
assignments of error, and McGill has filed a pro se
supplemental brief urging six additional errors.
of the Evidence/Post Verdict Judgment of Acquittal
appeal, McGill argues that the evidence was insufficient to
convict him of aggravated second degree battery, because the
only evidence inculpating him was Darby's testimony.
McGill states that there was no direct evidence that he had
the requisite specific intent or medical records proving that
Darby actually suffered a stab wound inflicted by a knife or
the severity of any such wound. Additionally, McGill urges
that because there was insufficient evidence to convict, the
trial court erred in denying his motion for post-verdict
judgment of acquittal. We disagree.
issues are raised on appeal, both as to the sufficiency of
evidence and as to one or more trial errors, the reviewing
court should first determine the sufficiency of the evidence.
State v. Lewis, 48, 373 (La.App. 2d Cir. 09/25/13),
125 So.3d 482.
standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the
evidence claim is whether, after viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier
of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61
L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Tate, 2001-1658 (La.
05/20/03), 851 So.2d 921, cert. denied, 541 U.S.
905, 124 S.Ct. 1604, 158 L.Ed.2d 248 (2004); State v.
Carter, 42, 894 (La.App. 2d Cir. 01/9/08), 974 So.2d
181, writ denied, 2008-0499 (La. 11/14/08), 996
So.2d 1086. This standard, now legislatively embodied in
La.C.Cr.P. art. 821, 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, 2005-0477 (La. 02/22/06), 922 So.2d 517;
State v. Dotie, 43, 819 (La.App. 2d Cir. 01/14/09),
1 So.3d 833, writ denied, 2009-0310 (La. 11/06/09),
21 So.3d 297. The appellate court does not assess the
credibility of witnesses or reweigh evidence. State v.
Smith, 1994-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442. A
reviewing court accords great deference to a jury's
decision to accept or reject the testimony of a witness in
whole or in part. State v. Eason, 43, 788 (La.App.
2d Cir. 02/25/09), 3 So.3d 685, writ denied,
2009-0725 (La. 12/11/09), 23 So.3d 913, cert.
denied, 561 U.S. 1013, 130 S.Ct. 3472, 177 L.Ed.2d 1068
Jackson standard is applicable in cases involving
both direct and circumstantial evidence. An appellate court
reviewing the sufficiency of evidence in such cases must
resolve any conflict in the direct evidence by viewing that
evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. When
the direct evidence is thus viewed, the facts established by
the direct evidence and inferred from the circumstances
established by that evidence must be sufficient for a
rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt
that defendant was guilty of every essential element of the
crime. State v. Sutton, 436 So.2d 471 (La. 1983);
State v. Speed, 43, 786 (La.App. 2d Cir. 01/14/09),
2 So.3d 582, writ denied, 2009-0372 (La. 11/06/09),
21 So.3d 299.
there is conflicting testimony about factual matters, the
resolution of which depends upon a determination of the
credibility of the witnesses, the matter is one of the weight
of the evidence, not its sufficiency. State v.
Allen, 36, 180 (La.App. 2d Cir. 09/18/02), 828 So.2d
622, writs denied, 2002-2595 (La. 03/28/03), 840
So.2d 566, 2002-2997 (La. 06/27/03), 847 So.2d 1255,
cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1185, 124 S.Ct. 1404, 158
L.Ed.2d 90 (2004). In the absence of internal contradiction
or irreconcilable conflict with physical evidence, one
witness's testimony, if believed by the trier of fact, is
sufficient support for a requisite factual conclusion.
State v. Gullette, 43, 032 (La.App. 2d Cir.
02/13/08), 975 So.2d 753. The trier of fact is charged to
make a credibility evaluation and may, within the bounds of
rationality, accept or reject the testimony of any witness;
the reviewing court may impinge on that discretion only to
the extent necessary to guarantee the fundamental due process
of law. State v. Sosa, 2005-0213 (La. 01/19/06), 921
R.S. 14:34.7 defines aggravated second degree battery and
states in pertinent part:
A. Aggravated second degree battery is a battery committed
with a dangerous weapon when the offender intentionally
inflicts serious bodily injury.
B. For purposes of this Section, the following words shall
have the following meanings:
* * *
(3) "Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury
which involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or
protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or
impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or
mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death.
determination of whether the requisite intent is present in a
criminal case is for the trier of fact. State v.
Fields, 42, 761 (La.App. 2d Cir. 01/09/08), 973 So.2d
973, writ denied, 2008-0469 (La. 09/26/08), 992
So.2d 983. Specific criminal intent is that state of mind
which exists when circumstances indicate that the offender
actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to
follow his act or failure to act. La. R.S. 14:10(1). Specific
intent need not be proved as a fact; it may be inferred from
the circumstances of the transaction and the defendant's
actions. State v. Bishop, 2001-2548 (La. 01/14/03),
835 So.2d 434.
testimony of a victim alone is sufficient to convict a
defendant. State v. Drake, 46, 232 (La.App. 2d Cir.
06/22/11), 71 So.3d 452. Such testimony alone is sufficient
even where the state does not introduce medical, scientific,
or physical evidence to prove the commission of the offense
by the defendant. Id.
post-verdict motion of acquittal shall be granted only if the
trial court finds that the evidence viewed in the light most
favorable to the state, does not reasonably permit a finding
of guilty. La.C.Cr.P. art. 821(B).
the evidence presented at trial was sufficient for the jury
to find McGill guilty of aggravated second degree battery.
McGill's conviction was based ...