from the Forty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish
of DeSoto, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 15-CR-26231,
Honorable Robert E. Burgess, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, By: Carey J. Ellis III Counsel
V. EVANS District Attorney, LEA R. HALL, JR. KENNETH P.
HAINES HUGO A. HOLLAND, JR. GEORGE WINSTON III Assistant
District Attorneys, Counsel for Appellee.
MOORE, PITMAN, and GARRETT, JJ.
defendant, Gary Lewis Walker, was convicted by a unanimous
jury of the second degree murder of Francois Davis. Walker
was ordered to serve the mandatory sentence of life
imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence. Walker appeals. For the
following reasons, we affirm the conviction and sentence.
and Davis met through a chat line in 2004, and began a
relationship in March 2013. Davis frequently stayed with
Walker in his mobile home in the KCS subdivision in
Mansfield, Louisiana. Walker's mother, Lula Benefield,
lived next door. On March 10, 2015, Walker's truck did
not leave the residence. That evening, Walker was found
trying to break into houses in the subdivision and behaving
erratically. He was wearing boxer shorts, a T-shirt, and a
hoodie. Walker was scratched and bleeding from cuts sustained
on fences in the area. Benefield was contacted and went to a
field where Walker had been subdued and was lying face down,
handcuffed. Benefield said Walker appeared to be impaired and
did not recognize her.
was taken to a hospital and Benefield went to Walker's
residence to get him some clothes. She was accompanied by her
husband, her son, Tremayne, and her daughter. The front door
of the residence was jammed, but a window was open. Benefield
called out, but received no response from anyone in the
residence. Tremayne entered the dwelling through the open
window and was eventually able to open the front door, which
was jammed. Benefield entered with her husband and daughter,
and went to a bedroom to get Walker's clothes. She saw
Davis lying in bed and called out to him several times, but
got no response. Benefield walked around the bed to look at
Davis. Davis had been shot in the head and was dead.
Benefield said when she saw him, she fled and alerted law
was questioned and gave several statements. Although he never
admitted that he shot Davis, law enforcement officers
determined that Walker committed the homicide. On April 9,
2015, Walker was indicted by a grand jury for the second
degree murder of Davis. In May 2016, he was tried by a jury
and was unanimously convicted as charged. Walker was ordered
to serve the mandatory sentence for second degree murder,
life imprisonment at hard labor, without benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence.
appealed. Appellate counsel argues there was insufficient
evidence to support the conviction. Walker also filed a
pro se brief, arguing that he was denied a
"fundamentally fair trial" because a prosecution
witness was compelled to give prejudicial testimony after the
witness invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and his Sixth
Amendment right to counsel. Walker also urges that he was
denied his Sixth Amendment right to conflict-free counsel
because his counsel had to cross-examine a prosecution
witness that counsel had represented in a previous case.
OF THE EVIDENCE
argues that the state failed to present sufficient evidence
to support the verdict of second degree murder. This argument
is without merit.
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. Sullivan, 51,
180 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2/15/17), __So. 3d__, 2017 WL 604990.
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 factfinder. State v. Pigford, 2005-0477 (La.
2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517; State v. Dotie, 43, 819
(La.App. 2 Cir. 1/14/09), 1 So.3d 833, writ denied,
2009-0310 (La. 11/6/09), 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
the factfinder's decision to accept or reject the
testimony of a witness in whole or in part. State v.
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. Sullivan, supra;
State v. Cortez, 48, 319 (La.App. 2 Cir. 8/7/13),
122 So.3d 588.
R.S. 15:438 states:
The rule as to circumstantial evidence is: assuming every
fact to be proved that the evidence tends to prove, in order
to convict, it must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of
case involves circumstantial evidence, and the jury
reasonably rejects the hypothesis of innocence presented by
the defendant's own testimony, that hypothesis falls, and
the defendant is guilty unless there is another hypothesis
which raises a reasonable doubt. State v. Captville,
448 So.2d 676 (La. 1984); State v. Matthews, 50, 838
(La.App. 2 Cir. 8/10/16), 200 So.3d 895.
jury reasonably and rationally rejects the exculpatory
hypothesis of innocence offered by a defendant's own
testimony, an appellate court's task in reviewing the
sufficiency of the evidence under the Due Process Clause is
at an end unless an alternative hypothesis is sufficiently
reasonable that a rational juror could not have found proof
of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v.
Calloway, 2007-2306 (La.1/21/09), 1 So.3d 417; State
v. Matthews, supra.
evidence is defined as evidence of facts or circumstances
from which one might infer or conclude the existence of other
connected facts. Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of
collateral facts and circumstances from which the existence
of the main fact may be inferred according to reason and
common experience. State v. Matthews,
degree murder is the killing of a human being when the
offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great
bodily harm. La. R.S. 14:30.1. Specific intent is the 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); State v. Davis, 40, 382 (La.App. 2
Cir.10/26/05), 914 So.2d 1129, writ denied,
2005-2419 (La. 4/17/06), 926 So.2d 512. As a state of mind,
specific intent need not be proved as a fact; it may be
inferred from the circumstances and the actions of the
defendant. State v. Mickelson, 2012-2539 (La.
9/3/14), 149 So.3d 178; State v. Davis,
supra. The discharge of a firearm at close range and
aimed at a person is indicative of a specific intent to kill
or inflict great bodily harm upon that person. State v.
Lloyd, 48, 914 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/14/15), 161 So.3d 879,
writ denied, 2015-0307 (La. 11/30/15), 184 So.3d 33,
cert. denied, __U.S.__, 137 S.Ct. 227, 196 L.Ed.2d
175 (2016). The determination of whether the requisite intent
is present is a question for the trier of fact. State v.
Huizar, 414 So.2d 741 (La. 1982; State v.
the state and the defense presented testimony from numerous
witnesses. Further, more than 80 exhibits were introduced
into evidence. The jury was presented with the following
evidence and testimony.
Toussaint, a cousin of Davis's, testified that, shortly
before his death, Davis had started a new job in Shreveport.
Toussaint said that Davis was the "life of our
family" and was greatly missed.
Davis, the victim's father, testified that his son had
been living with him in Shreveport immediately prior to his
death and that he had been transporting him to his new job.
Mr. Davis had never met Walker.
Montgomery, an agent for an insurance company, testified that
she goes into the field to collect premiums from clients. On
March 10, 2015, she went to Walker's home between 2:00
and 3:00 p.m. to collect a payment. She called his telephone
number and did not get an answer. No one answered when she
knocked on the door. Walker's truck was at the residence.
Montgomery went next door and talked to Walker's mother.
When she left 30 minutes later, Walker's truck was still
at the residence.
Jason Ambrose of the Mansfield Police Department testified
that, on March 10, 2015, he responded to a call about a
suspicious person trying to break into houses in the KCS
subdivision. He and several other officers made contact with
Walker at the scene. He described Walker as "kind of
incoherent." Walker was wearing a shirt and torn boxer
shorts. Ambrose did not detect the odor of alcohol. Walker
was injured from jumping fences. The officers determined that
the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office ("DPSO") had
jurisdiction over the matter. They were able to get Walker to
lie still and they called emergency medical services. Ambrose
could not remember the time of day the incident occurred, but
stated that it was after dark.
Luther Butler of the DPSO responded to the call by Ambrose.
He went to the area where Walker was subdued and spoke with a
homeowner who identified Walker as the person who was
prowling through the neighborhood. Walker had been taken to
the hospital. Butler went to the hospital, advised Walker of
his Miranda rights, and questioned him about running
through the neighborhood. Walker said something about a
friend named "T.J." and looked off at the wall.
Butler asked Walker about what happened at his residence and
Walker said ...