STATE EX REL. LUIS RODRIGUEZ-HERNANDEZ
STATE OF LOUISIANA No. 465867-3 “B”
ON SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE TWENTY-SECOND JUDICIAL
DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ST. TAMMANY
Relator fails to show he received ineffective assistance of
counsel under the standard of Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674
(1984). As to the remaining claims, relator fails to satisfy
his postconviction burden of proof. La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.2. We
attach hereto and make a part hereof the district court's
written reasons denying relator's application.
has now fully litigated his application for post-conviction
relief in state court. Similar to federal habeas relief,
see 28 U.S.C. § 2244, Louisiana postconviction
procedure envisions the filing of a second or successive
application only under the narrow circumstances provided in
La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.4 and within the limitations period as
set out in La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.8. Notably, the legislature in
2013 La. Acts 251 amended that article to make the procedural
bars against successive filings mandatory. Relator's
claims have now been fully litigated in accord with
La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.6, and this denial is final. Hereafter,
unless he can show that one of the narrow exceptions
authorizing the filing of a successive application applies,
relator has exhausted his right to state collateral review.
The district court is ordered to record a minute entry
consistent with this per curiam.
Octomber 13, 2015
ON POST-CONVICTION WITH INCORPORATED REASONS
August J. Hand, Judge
August 31, 2015, petitioner Luis Startyn Rodriguez-Hernandez
("Rodriguez" or "petitioner") filed a
timely pro se application for Post-Conviction Relief. The
application was mistakenly filed in Washington Parish, which
is also within the 22nd Judicial District. The
application was transferred to and was subsequently filed in
St. Tammany Parish, the parish of Rodriguez' conviction.
See La. C.C.P. art, 925. After considering the
application and the applicable law, the Court finds the
application may be dismissed upon the pleadings pursuant to
record shows Rodriguez was charged by grand jury indictment
with first degree murder, a violation of La. R.S. 14:30.
Carlos Rodriguez (no relation to the petitioner), Erly
Montoya and Gina Scramuzza were charged with first degree
murder in the same indictment. The state severed the charges
against the petitioner and tried him separately. The state
elected not to pursue the death penalty. Following a jury
trial, the petitioner was found guilty as charged. He was
sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without the
benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
appealed. In his sole assignment of error, Rodriguez claimed
his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to
the prosecutor's expression of his personal opinion
"as to petitioner's guilt in closing argument. The
appellate court found no merit to this claim and affirmed
Rodriguez's conviction and sentence in an unpublished
opinion. State v. Rodriguez-Hernandez, 2012-1040
(La.App. 1 Cir. 9/13/13). The Louisiana Supreme Court denied
writs. State v. Rodriguez-Hernandez, 2013-2476 (La.
5/23/14); 140 So, 3d 722 (Mem.).
post-conviction application, Rodriguez raises three claims;
(1) the evidence was insufficient to convict and appellate
counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to
assign this as an error in the direct appeal; (2) the trial
Court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of Melvin
Gonzales' prior statement as impeachment evidence and
trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to
object to its admission; and (3) his constitutional rights
were violated when he was denied the right to testify on his
own behalf. Each of these claims will be addressed
more often raised on appeal, timely free-standing claims
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence are cognizable on
collateral review. State ex rei. Montgomery v.
State, 2012-2116 (La. 3/15/13), 109 So.3d371. "In
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a
conviction, an appellate court in Louisiana is controlled by
the standard enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61
L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), ... [T]he appellate court must determine
that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, was sufficient to convince a rational trier of
fact that all of the elements of the crime had been proved
beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Captviila,
448 So.2d 676, 678 (La. 1984).
degree murder is the killing of a human being when the
offender has the specific intent lo kill or to inflict great
bodily harm and is engaged in the perpetration or attempted
perpetration of certain enumerated felonies, including
robbery or kidnapping. La. R.S. 14:30(A)(1). First degree
murder is also the killing of a human being when the offender
has the specific intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm
and has offered, has been offered, has given, or has received
anything of value for the killing. La. R.S. 14;30(A)(4). The
state argued to the jury that the evidence proved beyond a
reasonable doubt the petitioner committed first degree murder
under both of these theories.
contends there was no evidence linking him to the killing of
the victim, Mario Scramuzza, Jr. He argues the state failed
to prove he had the requisite specific intent to commit first
degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter, or lo
be a principal to any of those crimes. Rodriguez maintains he
was hired to help only with an insurance scam, which involved
removing items from the Scramuzza household. He claims Carlos
Rodriguez committed the murder of Mr. Scramuzza, and that he
had no knowledge Carlos Rodriguez and Gina Scramuzza planned
to kill Mr. ...