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State v. Francis

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 11, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAKEITH L. FRANCIS Appellant

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 330, 319 Honorable Charles Tutt, Judge.

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          REBECCA A. EDWARDS JANET L. SILVIE Assistant District Attorneys

          Before MOORE, GARRETT, and CARAWAY (ad hoc), JJ.

          GARRETT, J.

         The defendant, Jakeith L. Francis, was found guilty by a jury of one count of attempted possession of a Schedule III controlled dangerous substance ("CDS") (acetaminophen with codeine), in violation of La. R.S. 40:968(C) and La. R.S. 14:27, and one count of attempted possession of a Schedule II CDS (methamphetamine), in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(C) and La. R.S. 14:27. He was sentenced to serve 12 months at hard labor on each count, with the sentences to be served concurrently, and was given credit for time served. He appeals, claiming there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. For the following reasons, we affirm the convictions and sentences.

         FACTS

         On February 12, 2015, Francis was stopped for speeding by Officers Joseph Bassett and Josh Owen of the Shreveport Police Department. Francis's girlfriend, Euradell Lewis, was a passenger in the car. Officer Bassett smelled a strong odor of marijuana and removed Francis and Lewis from the vehicle. One of the officers noticed a bulge in Lewis's clothing. She gave the officer a plastic bag containing various drugs. According to Lewis, when the officers activated their lights to pull Francis over, he removed the bag from his pocket, threw it into her lap, and told her to hide it.

         Both Francis and Lewis were arrested. Francis was originally charged with possession of acetaminophen with codeine, possession of marijuana, second offense, and possession of Ecstasy ("MDMA"). The bill of information was later amended to charge him with possession of acetaminophen with codeine and possession of methamphetamine. He was tried by jury on February 2, 2016, and was convicted of the responsive verdicts of attempted possession on both counts. He was sentenced as set forth above. On appeal, he claims the evidence was not sufficient to support his convictions.

         LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         The 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, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Tate, 2001-1658 (La. 5/20/03), 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. 1/9/08), 974 So.2d 181, writ denied, 2008-0499 (La. 11/14/08), 996 So.2d 1086; State v. Crossley, 48, 149 (La.App. 2d Cir. 6/26/13), 117 So.3d 585, writ denied, 2013-1798 (La. 2/14/14), 132 So.3d 410. 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. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517; State v. Dotie, 43, 819 (La.App. 2d Cir. 1/14/09), 1 So.3d 833, writ denied, 2009-0310 (La. 11/6/09), 21 So.3d 297; State v. Crossley, supra.

         The 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 the 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. 1/14/09), 2 So.3d 582, writ denied, 2009-0372 (La. 11/6/09), 21 So.3d 299; State v. Crossley, supra.

         Where 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. Speed, supra; State v. Allen, 36, 180 (La.App. 2d Cir. 9/18/02), 828 So.2d 622, writs denied, 2002-2595 (La. 3/28/03), 840 So.2d 566, 2002-2997 (La. 6/27/03), 847 So.2d 1255, cert. denied,540 U.S. 1185, 124 S.Ct. 1404, 158 L.Ed.2d 90 (2004); State v. Crossley, supra. In the absence of internal contradiction or irreconcilable conflict with physical evidence, one witness's ...


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