from the Thirty-Ninth Judicial District Court for the Parish
of Red River, Louisiana Trial Court No. 130, 282 Honorable
Lewis O. Sams, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: George D. Ross Counsel for
C. JONES District Attorney, J. CHRIS GUILLET Assistant
District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.
BROWN, MOORE and PITMAN, JJ.
L. Steward appeals his convictions and sentences on one count
of attempted aggravated rape and one count of indecent
behavior with juveniles. Finding a fatal defect in the
aggravated rape prosecution, we vacate that conviction and
sentence and remand for further proceedings. For the reasons
expressed, we affirm the conviction and sentence for indecent
behavior with juveniles, but remand for compliance with sex
offender registration and notification requirements.
Aggravated Rape Prosecution
state charged Steward by bill of information with one count
each of aggravated rape,  indecent behavior with juveniles and
second degree sexual battery. The state later amended the
bill to drop the charge of second degree sexual battery, and
proceeded to trial before a 12-member jury. After
deliberating 4½ hours, the jury returned a responsive
verdict of guilty of attempted aggravated rape and guilty as
charged of indecent behavior with juveniles.
first assignment of error, Steward urges the conviction for
attempted aggravated rape should be reversed and vacated as
the original charge, aggravated rape, was improperly
instituted by bill of information rather than by indictment.
The state concedes this error, but suggests that
Steward's failure to assert it prior to appeal should
constitute a waiver.
Louisiana Constitution guarantees that no person shall be
held to answer for a capital crime or a crime punishable by
life imprisonment except on indictment by a grand jury. La.
Const. Art. I, § 15. The Code of Criminal Procedure
likewise provides that prosecution for an offense punishable
by death or by life imprisonment shall be instituted by grand
jury indictment. La.C.Cr.P. art. 382 A. Aggravated rape
carried a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment at hard
labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of
sentence. La. R.S. 14:42 D(1). Prosecution for aggravated
rape, therefore, could be instituted only by grand jury
indictment, not by bill of information. State v.
Donahue, 355 So.2d 247 (La. 1978); State v.
Ruple, 437 So.2d 873 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1983); State v.
Underdonk, 2011-1598 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/23/12), 92 So.3d
369, writ denied, 2012-0910 (La. 10/8/12), 98 So.3d
848. This is a fatal error which may not be waived by the
defendant or cured by a responsive verdict of a lesser
included offense which could have been charged by bill of
information. State v. Stevenson, 334 So.2d 195 (La.
1976); State v. Ruple, supra; State v.
the circumstances, this court is required to vacate the
conviction and sentence for attempted aggravated rape. We
remand the case to the district court for further
Behavior with Juveniles - Factual Background
2013, 8-year-old SG was living with her mother, CG, and her
stepfather, Chris Steward, in Natchitoches. In late July of
that year, SG told her grandmother that Chris had touched her
inappropriately. The grandmother reported this to
Natchitoches police; Sgt. Jessica Williams referred SG to
Project Celebration, a child advocacy center in Many. The
executive director, Mitzi Harris, arranged a videotaped
forensic interview of SG on July 31, 2013. Ms. Harris
testified at trial that the person who actually conducted the
interview, a Ms. Goins, was a licensed forensic interviewer
and that other protocols were observed.
the interview, SG spontaneously reported that her
stepfather's brother, Angelo Steward, the defendant, had
molested her earlier, when he was babysitting her in
Coushatta, where the family previously lived. On the video,
SG stated that Uncle Angelo "put his pee pee in my pee
pee and my butt, " put his "pee pee in my mouth,
" "white stuff came out, " "told me to
lick it" and then to "go brush my teeth"; he
then told her not to tell this to anybody or else he would go
to jail. SG also stated that he showed her a cell phone
picture of a girl who ...