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State v. Thomas

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 21, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA, Appellee
v.
TIMOTHY THOMAS, Appellant

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 305, 897 Honorable Roy L. Brun, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Douglas Lee Harville Counsel for Appellant

          TIMOTHY THOMAS Pro Se

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

          ROSS S. OWEN REBECCA ARMAND EDWARDS Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         Defendant Timothy Cardell Thomas was charged with one count of second degree murder in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1. After a bench trial, he was found guilty as charged and sentenced to life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. No motion to reconsider sentence was filed. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court's denial of his motion for continuance, filed on July 13, 2016. Defendant also challenges the timeliness of his prosecution. For the following reasons, we affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         In September 2009, Waco Collins traveled from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Dallas, Texas, to purchase several kilograms of cocaine from a drug dealer. A dispute about the price arose during the transaction, with the dealer demanding several thousand dollars more than the originally agreed-upon price. Instead of paying the higher price, Collins had two of his associates, Gerald Needham and Shannon Golston, rob the dealer and abscond with the drugs. Upon returning to Shreveport, Collins got into a disagreement with Golston over the drugs, and Golston threatened to kidnap and kill Collins. At some point after the disagreement, Collins borrowed a Glock pistol from Defendant.

         On September 14, 2009, Collins went to Defendant's home between 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and asked him for a ride. Defendant agreed and drove Collins to a store in his black truck. At the store, Collins and Defendant switched from the truck to a Mustang and, with Defendant still driving, went to Golston's apartment complex. Upon arriving, Collins placed a plastic trash bag over his head, walked into Golston's apartment and, using the gun he had borrowed from Defendant, shot Golston from behind in his right shoulder and in the head, killing him. Defendant remained in the vehicle during the shooting, but waited for Collins to return before he drove away. After they left the scene of the shooting, Defendant drove Collins to Champion Lake, where Collins threw the gun and the gun magazine into the lake. The police were called to Golston's apartment complex, but no arrests were made at the time.

         The case remained unsolved until 2012, when a suspect in a different homicide informed the police that Defendant and Collins were involved in Golston's death. Defendant was subsequently arrested and questioned by police. He waived his Miranda rights and confessed his involvement in Golston's death. Defendant and the police drove to Champion Lake where police divers retrieved the gun. Defendant admitted to owning the gun and stated that he had given it to Collins about a week prior to the shooting. When asked why he helped Collins, he stated that Collins was a childhood friend. Defendant also admitted to knowing that "this day, " i.e., his arrest, would come.

         On May 7, 2012, Defendant filed a motion for discovery, bond reduction, preliminary examination and a premature motion for a bill of particulars. On June 11, 2012, Defendant was charged by grand jury indictment with the second degree murder of Golston. The defense did not file a motion to dismiss the earlier premature motion for bill of particulars. On June 19, 2012, after waiving formal arraignment, Defendant pled not guilty. On November 12, 2012, Defendant's counsel waived any time delays. On May 22, 2014, the state filed an answer to the request for discovery, bill of particulars and notice under La.C.Cr.P. art. 768.

         During the course of the prosecution, numerous delays occurred and requests for continuances were filed, including three joint motions for continuance filed on December 22, 2014, February 2, 2015, and February 25, 2016. The trial date was finally set for July 25, 2016. On March 22, 2016, Defendant filed a pro se motion to quash and claimed that the two-year time limit to prosecute had expired.

         A hearing was held on June 27, 2016, at which Defendant invoked his right to self-representation and waived his right to a jury trial. The trial court appointed the attorney who had been representing him, David McClatchy, as standby ...


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