Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
07-13-0371, Honorable Louis R. Daniel, Judge Presiding.
G. Whittaker New Orleans, LA, Attorney for
Defendant-Appellant, Donald Dickerson.
C. Moore, III District Attorney Dylan C. Alge Assistant
District Attorney Baton Rouge, LA, Attorneys for Appellee,
State of Louisiana.
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, THERIOT, AND CHUTZ, JJ.
defendant, Donald Dickerson, was charged by bill of
information with second degree battery, a violation of La.
R.S. 14:34.1. He pled not guilty and, following a jury trial,
was found guilty as charged. The State subsequently filed a
habitual offender bill of information; following a hearing on
the matter, the defendant was adjudicated a fourth-felony
habitual offender and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard
labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of
sentence. The defendant filed a motion to reconsider
sentence, which was denied. The defendant now appeals,
designating two assignments of error.
12, 2013, at about 9:00 p.m., David L. Ray, III, drove to the
Memorial Stadium Chevron gas station on Scenic Highway for
gas. David's wife and two daughters were in the vehicle.
The card-swipe did not work at his gas pump, so David stood
in the line outside to pay for the gas at the cashier window.
(The store's doors had already been locked for the
night). As David was standing in line, the defendant
approached David, pushed him, said something to him about the
pink shirt he was wearing, and told him that he was in the
wrong neighborhood. After the defendant and David exchanged
words, David stopped talking and turned away, trying to avoid
any contact with the defendant. The defendant then punched
David in the face, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.
defendant struck David several more times while he was either
lying on the ground or trying to get up. David's wife,
Angela, exited the vehicle and ran to her husband. Two people
who had ridden to the gas station with the defendant, Ashley
Simmons and Devin Bessye, approached Angela. While Angela was
tending to David and telling the defendant to leave him
alone, Devin struck Angela in the head, knocking her
unconscious. Ashley then got on top of Angela and began
punching her. C.R.,  David's older teenaged daughter, ran
to her mother and tackled Ashley. While C.R. and Ashley
fought, someone (likely Devin) punched C.R. in the jaw.
patrons at the gas station intervened and broke up the
attacks on the Ray family. The defendant, Ashley, and Devin
got in a white Jeep Cherokee and left the scene. Latasha
Henderson, one of the patrons who witnessed the attacks,
followed the defendant and called 911 while in pursuit. The
police quickly responded and stopped the defendant around
Winbourne Avenue and North 38th Street.
suffered serious injuries. He was taken to the emergency room
at Baton Rouge General on Bluebonnet, where he was treated by
Dr. Keith Schwager. Dr. Schwager testified at trial David had
an orbital blowout fracture and a hematoma (bleeding and
swelling) behind that injured eyeball. He also had a nasal
bone fracture and received ten stitches to his face. David
was transferred to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital for
specialized treatment by an ophthalmologist and a plastic
surgeon. Because his orbital socket was completely fractured,
doctors inserted a titanium plate behind his eye. According
to David, his injured eye is now two millimeters more
recessed in his skull, which causes his eyelid to open wider
than it normally would, increasing sensitivity to light.
defendant did not testify at trial.
OF ERROR NO. 1
first assignment of error, the defendant argues that the
evidence was insufficient to support the second degree
battery conviction. Specifically, the defendant contends the
State did not prove that he had the specific intent to
inflict serious bodily injury. The defendant does not dispute
that David suffered serious bodily injury.
conviction based on insufficient evidence cannot stand as it
violates Due Process. See U.S. Const, amend. XIV; La. Const,
art. I, § 2. The standard of review for the sufficiency
of the evidence to uphold a conviction is whether or not,
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 beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct.
2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). See La. Code Crim. P. art.
821(B); State v. Ordodi, 2006-0207 (La. 11/29/06),
946 So.2d 654, 660; State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d
1305, 1308-09 (La. 1988). The Jackson standard of review,
incorporated in Article 821, is an objective standard for
testing the overall evidence, both direct and circumstantial,
for reasonable doubt. When analyzing circumstantial evidence,
La. R.S. 15:438 provides that, in order to convict, the
factfinder must be satisfied that the overall evidence
excludes every reasonable hypothesis of innocence. State
v. Patorno, 2001-2585 (La.App. 1st Cir. 6/21/02), 822
So.2d 141, 144.
R.S. 14:34.1 provides in pertinent part, with footnote added:
A. Second degree battery is a battery when the offender
intentionally inflicts serious bodily injury ....
B. For purposes of this Section, . . . "[s]erious 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.
order to prove a second degree battery, the State must prove
the defendant: (1) committed a battery upon another, (2)
without his consent, and (3) intentionally inflicted serious
bodily injury. State v. Young, 2000-1437 (La.
11/28/01), 800 So.2d 847, 852. Second degree battery is a
crime requiring specific criminal intent. State v.
Fuller, 414 So.2d 306, 310 (La. 1982). Specific 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). Such state of mind can be formed in an
instant. State v. Cousan, 94-2503 (La. 11/25/96),
684 So.2d 382, 390. Specific intent need not be proven as a
fact, but may be inferred from the circumstances of the
transaction and the actions of defendant. State v.
Graham, 420 So.2d 1126, 1127 (La. 1982). The existence
of specific intent is an ultimate legal conclusion to be
resolved by the trier of fact. State v. McCue, 484
So.2d 889, 892 (La.App. 1st Cir. 1986).
brief, the defendant maintains that the "single
blow" that knocked David unconscious and caused the
blowout fracture is not evidence sufficient to prove, beyond
a reasonable doubt, that he had the specific intent to cause
serious bodily injury. According to the defendant, while
"it is unfortunate that the punch" caused such
harm, "the fact is that proof that one male punched