FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
317, 937 HONORABLE MARY LAUVE DOGGETT, DISTRICT JUDGE
Kelly Bauman Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT- APPELLANT Stormy Nicole Cofer aka Stormy Cofer
Phillip Terrell, Jr. District Attorney, Ninth Judicial
District W. T. Armitage, Jr. Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE State of Louisiana
Nicole Cofer PRO SE
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Sylvia R.
Cooks and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE
October 21, 2013, the defendant, Stormy Nicole Cofer, shot a
gun through the window of the vehicle in which she was a
passenger. The shot struck and killed the victim, Keiunna
defendant was charged with second degree murder, a violation
of La.R.S. 14:30.1, on December 19, 2013. A jury found her
guilty as charged on September 18, 2015. The trial court
denied her motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal
and/or for new trial on September 28, 2015, and sentenced her
to life in prison without benefit of parole, probation, or
suspension of sentence. The trial court denied the
defendant's motion to reconsider her sentence on January
25, 2016. The defendant now appeals, arguing that the
evidence was insufficient to convict her because the state
failed to carry its burden of proving that she had the
specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm and that
she did not act in self-defense; the trial court failed to
adequately charge the jury; her counsel was ineffective; and
her sentence is excessive.
evidence herein is legally insufficient to sustain Stormy
SE ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR
1. Appellant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution [sic] were violated because the
evidence is legally insufficient to support the conviction of
second degree murder, as the State failed to meet its burden.
2. The trial court violated the Appellant's U.S.
Constitution Sixth Amendment due process rights in the
failure to adequately charge the jury.
3. Appellant's U.S. Constitution Sixth Amendment right to
effective assistance of counsel was violated by trial
4. Appellant's U.S. Constitution Eighth Amendment right
to protection against cruel and excessive punishment were
[sic] violated when the trial court failed to consider a
downward departure from the mandatory sentence.
accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed by this court for errors patent on the face of the
record. After reviewing the record, we find there is one
error patent, and the court minutes of sentencing require
record before this court does not indicate that the trial
court advised the defendant of the prescriptive period for
filing post-conviction relief as required by La.Code Crim.P.
art. 930.8. The trial court is directed to inform the
defendant of the provisions of Article 930.8 by sending
appropriate written notice to the defendant within ten days
of the rendition of the opinion and to file written proof in
the record that the defendant received the notice. State
v. Roe, 05-116 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/1/05), 903 So.2d 1265,
writ denied, 05-1762 (La. 2/10/06), 924 So.2d 163.
court minutes of sentencing also do not reflect that the
defendant's life sentence was imposed at hard labor as
indicated in the sentencing transcript. "[W]hen the
minutes and the transcript conflict, the transcript
prevails." State v. Wommack, 00-137, p. 4
(La.App. 3 Cir. 6/7/00), 770 So.2d 365, 369, writ
denied, 00-2051 (La. 9/21/01), 797 So.2d 62. The trial
court is, therefore, ordered to correct the court minutes of
sentencing to reflect that the defendant's sentence is to
be served at hard labor.
OF THE EVIDENCE
defendant argues that the evidence at trial was insufficient
to support her conviction for second degree murder and
insufficient to negate a claim of self-defense.
Alternatively, she argues she should have been found guilty
of the lesser offense of manslaughter.
standard of review 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
(2007) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99
S.Ct. 2781 (1979), and State v. Captville, 448 So.2d
676 (La.1984)). The Jackson standard of review is
now legislatively embodied in La.Code Crim.P. art. 821. It
does not allow the appellate court "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 (citing State v.
Robertson, 96-1048 (La. 10/4/96), 680 So.2d 1165, and
State v. Lubrano, 563 So.2d 847 (La.1990)). The
appellate court's function is not to assess the
credibility of witnesses or to reweigh the evidence.
State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d
factfinder's role is to weigh the credibility of
witnesses. State v. Ryan, 07-504 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/7/07), 969 So.2d 1268. Thus, other than insuring the
sufficiency evaluation standard of Jackson,
"the appellate court should not second-guess the
credibility determination of the trier of fact, " but
rather, it should defer to the rational credibility and
evidentiary determinations of the jury. Id. at 1270
(quoting State v. Lambert, 97-64, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3
Cir. 9/30/98), 720 So.2d 724, 726-27). Our supreme court has
However, an appellate court may impinge on the fact
finder's discretion and its role in determining the
credibility of witnesses "only to the extent necessary
to guarantee the fundamental due process of law."
State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1310 (La.1988). In
determining the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a
conviction, an appellate court must preserve "'the
factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence' by
reviewing 'all of the evidence . . . in the light most
favorable to the prosecution.'" McDaniel v.
Brown, 558 U.S. __, __, 130 S.Ct. 665, 674, 175 L.Ed.2d
582 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319,
99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979)). When so viewed
by an appellate court, the relevant question is whether, on
the evidence presented at trial, "any rational
trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson, 443
U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at 2789.
State v. Strother, 09-2357, pp. 10-11 (La.
10/22/10), 49 So.3d 372, 378.
degree murder is the killing of a human being" with the
"specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily
harm[.]" La.R.S. 14:30.1(A)(1). "Specific criminal
intent is that state of mind which exists when the
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). "Firing into a crowd is
sufficient to establish specific intent to kill."
State v. Williams, 13-497, p. 10 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/6/13), 124 So.3d 1236, 1243, writ denied, 13-2774
(La. 5/16/14), 139 So.3d 1024.
[I]n a case in which defendant asserts that he acted in
self-defense, the state has the burden of establishing beyond
a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense.
State v. Brown, 414 So.2d 726, 728 (La.1982). When
defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in such
a case, the question becomes whether, viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational
trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that
the homicide was not committed in self-defense.
State ex rel. D.P.B., 02-1742, p. 5 (La. 5/20/03),
846 So.2d 753, 756-57 (footnote omitted).
Revised Statutes 14:20(A) states, in pertinent part:
A homicide is justifiable:
(1) When committed in self-defense by one who reasonably
believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or
receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary
to save himself from that danger.
. . . .
(3) When committed against a person whom one reasonably
believes . . . is attempting to use any unlawful force
against a person present in a motor vehicle . . . .
(4)(a)When committed by a person lawfully inside . . . a
motor vehicle . . . when the conflict began, against a person
who is attempting to make an unlawful entry into the . . .
motor vehicle . . . and the person committing the homicide
reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary
to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave the .
. . motor vehicle.
State v. Fox, 15-692, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/3/16),
184 So.3d 886, 890, writ denied, 16-404
(La.3/13/17), __ So.3d __, this court stated:
"In examining a self-defense claim, it is necessary to
consider: (1) whether the defendant reasonably believed that
he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm; (2)
whether the killing was necessary to prevent that death or
great bodily harm; and (3) whether the defendant was the
aggressor in the conflict." State v. Mayes,
14-683, pp. 2-3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/23/14), 154 So.3d 1257,
1259, writs denied, 15-178, 15-220 (La.11/16/15),
184 So.3d 24. Additionally, in determining whether the
defendant had a reasonable belief that the killing was
necessary, it is appropriate to consider "the excitement
and confusion of the situation, the possibility of using
force or violence short of killing, and the defendant's
knowledge of the assailantʼs bad character."
State v. Thomas, 43, 100, p. 5 (La.App. 2 Cir.
4/30/08), 981 So.2d 850, 854, writ denied, 08-1276
(La.2/6/09), 999 So.2d 769.
is [a] homicide which would be [first or second degree
murder], but the offense is committed in sudden passion or
heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to
deprive an average person of his self-control and cool
reflection." La.R.S. 14:31(A)(1). "'Sudden
passion' and 'heat of blood' are not elements of
the offense of manslaughter; rather they are factors which
serve to mitigate murder to manslaughter." State v.
Vercher, 14-1211, p. 10 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/6/15), 162
So.3d 740, 746, writ denied, 15-1124 (La. 5/20/16),
191 So.3d 1065. The defendant must prove these mitigating
factors by a preponderance of the evidence. State v.
Guillory, 16-237 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/2/16), 206 So.3d
witnesses testified at trial. Some, including the defendant,
established the victim as the aggressor at the time of the
shooting, while others portrayed the defendant as gunning
down the victim.
Bruins testified she "was side by side with
Keiunna" and "witnessed [the defendant] taking
Keiunna's life." Bruins testified that she, Keiunna,
Shakay Holmes, and another female were going to a store. As
they crossed the street, "a gray like old school
car" rounded a corner. As soon as the victim said,
"there goes Stormy, " the defendant "leaned
over the middle console through the driver's side and
shot one time." The defendant was in the passenger's
seat. Bruins said the victim "just stumbled over and she
to Bruins, prior to the shooting, the women were walking
"just side by side, just singing a song." The
victim did not attempt to get into the vehicle, and she was
ten to fifteen feet from the driver's side when she was
shot. The victim had nothing in her hands when she was shot.
Bruins identified the defendant as the shooter at trial.
night of the shooting, Bruins gave a statement to police
saying the group was "talking noise, " which she
explained was "[l]ike talking trash, " in a
confrontational manner. At trial, she said they were
"talking noise amongst each other. We wasn't [sic]
talking noise to [the defendant]." She testified no
conversation took place between Bruins and anyone in the
vehicle, which was going "no faster than ten miles per
hour" and "never came to a complete stop"
after the shooting.
victim went to Holmes's residence around 3:00 p.m. on the
day of the shooting. Holmes said she and the victim had a
conversation about a fight involving the defendant earlier in
the day. The victim was dating someone the defendant
previously dated, and that was why the two did not get along.
and the victim then went to B. Love's house on Harris
Street to "hang out." Holmes said they had no plan
to fight with anyone, but the victim was getting calls from
the defendant. Holmes and the victim sat in the car until
Holmes got out to walk to the nearby store. The victim and
two other girls walked behind her.
testified that as the victim walked across the street behind
Holmes, "the car pulled out and stopped her from
walking, " between the victim and Holmes. "[T]he
car stopped and everybody just looked at the car."
Holmes saw the defendant on the passenger side. As the victim
started to go around the car, the defendant shot her. She
said the victim had no weapon and was "maybe a foot or
two away" from the car; she did not touch or kick the
car or pull on the door handle. The defendant leaned across
the driver and shot out the window, pointing the gun toward
the victim. The vehicle came to a complete stop and then left
the scene. Holmes never heard the victim say the defendant
was in the car. According to Holmes, the victim did nothing
to incite the shooting. No one in the street blocked the
vehicle so that it could not move. After the victim was shot,
Holmes saw "she had a box cutter and mace[.]"
Holmes "never knew she had it on her though." The
items were in the victim's bra; she had nothing in her
hands when she was shot.
trial, defense counsel questioned Holmes about a prior
incident caught on video about a month and a half before the
shooting. Holmes and the victim were in a car smoking
marijuana when the defendant pulled her car in front of them.
The victim said they would go to the defendant's house
and "beat her up." They followed the defendant to
her house, where the victim asked the defendant to fight her
in the street. The defendant did not fight the victim. Holmes
did not know the defendant before that day.
reviewed the video submitted as Exhibit D-1 and confirmed the
video accurately depicted what they did that day. It was
uploaded to Instagram. Holmes was not sure if it was also
posted on Facebook. Those shown in the video were following
the defendant because she had been driving a vehicle that was
coming toward the victim's vehicle. The victim's
vehicle, in which Holmes was a passenger, "had to brake
and . . . make a quick move before [it] wrecked." The
victim then decided to follow the defendant to her house.
Holmes identified the victim as the individual standing in
the street in the video.
was a friend of the defendant, "[m]ore like a
sister." On the day of the shooting, Baxter was walking
toward the store when she saw the victim get shot and
"fall on the parking lot." Baxter saw the defendant
in the car with the gun. She said she did not see the victim
try to open the vehicle's door or shout at anyone in it.
However, two females with the victim were shouting toward the
vehicle, "hoorahing it on[.]" Baxter saw the
defendant shoot the victim.
Foots testified she was jogging on the Lee Street sidewalk at
the time of the shooting. The victim was on Foots's left
side when she was hit by a shot that "came from an old
school gray car." The victim was not touching the car,
trying to get in it, yelling or screaming. Foots did not know
the victim; they were crossing the street at the same time.
Foots held the victim as she died. According to Foots, the
car was moving when the shot was fired, and it never stopped.
Gold said that she met up with the defendant at the home of
Jernisha Jenkins about an hour before the shooting
occurred. The defendant picked them up, and they
went to the defendant's house for the defendant to get
ready for school. Gold first testified Bruins and a group of
other girls in a black Charger, a gray Charger, and a gray
Honda passed by the defendant's house and called her
"a b-i-t-c-h" and other names. However, Gold later
said she "didn't hear nobody say nothing
[sic]." The cars "just passed by speeding and they
turned out." The cars were on a side street two houses
down from the defendant's house, and they passed without
5:00 p.m., Gold, her baby, Jenkins, Jenkins's cousin, the
defendant, and the driver of the vehicle (Gold did not know
his name) left the defendant's house on Van Street in an
older model gray or silver Impala. Gold was seated behind the
defendant on the passenger's side. The group planned to
pick up another person in Pecan Grove, and then the defendant
was going to school. They had no plans to fight anyone.
they turned onto Dallas Street, they saw "Keiunna
Collins and them" walking across Lee Street. Jenkins
told the driver to turn left because it was faster to get to
Pecan Grove. The defendant "said go to the right so she
could stop from seeing all the people that was walking across
the street." Gold said the group walked in front of the
stopped car; "[i]f the car would have kept going, they
would have got hit." Bruins "was in front of the
car telling [the defendant] to get out [of] the car. Gold
said she heard Bruins say "the B word[.]" Bruins
"stopped like she was going on [the defendant's]
side of the car." Gold said Bruins "was like, get
out the car. Let's fight. Bitch, get out the car."
The victim was a few steps away from the driver's side.
said Bruins was lying if she said she was singing and never
got in front of the car. Gold also described what the victim
did as: "You know how you like you walk away - hype -
like she wanted to fight. Like she was like, come on
let's fight. Like basically telling her to get out of the
car" with hand motions. The victim was "walking
with fury[.]" She never hit the car or tried to open its
door. She had no backpack, knife, or anything in her hands.
She came no closer than four feet from the car.
the car stopped, the driver of the vehicle leaned back in his
seat, and the defendant "came up with the gun and she
shot [the victim]." Gold saw the gun in the
defendant's hand, and she saw her shoot through the
victim was on the side of the car by the driver's door.
driver "took off" after the shooting. He put them
out of the car on another street. "[The defendant] went
her way, " and Jenkins's grandfather took the rest
of the group to the police station.
the defendant, Gold, and the rest of the group left the
defendant's house prior to the shooting, Gold said she
saw the never saw the defendant or the driver with a gun.
Rather, Gold saw a man named Alfred King "come through
the backyard with a black gun and he went in the house and
ain't [sic] see him no [sic] more." Gold and Jenkins
were outside, and the defendant was inside. Gold thought
Norris, who later drove the car when the victim was shot, was
and the defendant were close friends. She had also known the
victim for about a year, and she said they "had just
started being close around the time everything had
happened." However, she also testified that they were
close enough friends that the victim lived with her. She
testified that the defendant and the victim had a history of
disagreements involving Timothy "Iceberg" Ricard, a