FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. 141, 202 HONORABLE PATRICK L. MICHOT, DISTRICT
A. Stutes District Attorney Michele S. Billeaud Assistant
District Attorney Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana
K. Bauman Louisiana Appellate Project Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: Kyle James Toups
composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D.
Kent Savoie, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.
Kyle James Toups, was indicted for negligent homicide, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:32. After a jury trial, Defendant was
found guilty as charged. Defendant was sentenced on July 15,
2016, to two years imprisonment at hard labor, with credit
for time served, and ordered to pay restitution to the
victim's family in the amount of six thousand dollars.
Defendant filed a Motion to Reconsider Sentence which was
denied without a hearing.
has perfected a timely appeal wherein he claims that the
State did not negate his self-defense claim, thereby failing
to prove negligent homicide beyond a reasonable doubt, and
that his sentence is excessive. For the following reasons, we
affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence.
an evening of drinking in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana,
Defendant; his brother, Travis Toups (Travis); and Jacob
Landry encountered the victim, Luke Michael Darby, on the
street just before 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 14, 2012.
Travis and the victim bumped into each other and briefly
argued before the victim punched Travis in the face.
Defendant then took a knife from his pocket and swung toward
the victim's chest. Thereafter, the victim and Defendant
fled the scene. On Monday morning, the victim was discovered
dead outside a nearby business. An autopsy revealed his cause
of death as a single stab wound to the heart.
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 review, we have found one error patent.
Defendant was advised that he had "two (2) years within
which to file for post-conviction relief." Louisiana
Code of Criminal Procedure Article 930.8 (emphasis added)
provides that a defendant has "two years after the
conviction and sentence become final" to seek
post-conviction relief. Because the advisement given to him
was insufficient, we direct the trial court to inform
Defendant of the provisions of La.Code Crim.P. art. 930.8 by
sending written notice to him within ten days of the
rendition of this opinion and to file written proof in the
record that Defendant received the notice. See 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.
of the Evidence
first assigned error on appeal, Defendant asserts that the
evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his
conviction for negligent homicide. At trial, Defendant
admitted that he stabbed the victim, but he claimed that the
killing was justified because he was acting in defense of his
homicide is defined as "[t]he killing of a human being
by criminal negligence." La.R.S. 14:32(A)(1). Louisiana
Revised Statutes 14:12 states that: "Criminal negligence
exists when, although neither specific nor general criminal
intent is present, there is such disregard of the interest of
others that the offender's conduct amounts to a gross
deviation below the standard of care expected to be
maintained by a reasonably careful man under like
circumstances." A homicide is justifiable "[w]hen
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." La.R.S. 14:20(A)(1). In
addition, La.R.S. 14:22 provides that "[i]t is
justifiable to use force or violence or to kill in the
defense of another person when it is reasonably apparent that
the person attacked could have justifiably used such means
himself, and when it is reasonably believed that such
intervention is necessary to protect the other person."
When self-defense or defense of another is claimed as a
justification for the homicide, the defendant does not bear
the burden of proof on that issue; instead, the State is
required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the
defendant did not act in self-defense or in the defense of
another. See State v. Prudhomme, 02-511, (La.App. 3
Cir. 10/30/02), 829 So.2d 1166, writ denied, 02-3230
(La. 10/10/03), 855 So.2d 324; State v. Addison,
97-1186 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/6/98), 717 So.2d 648, writ
denied, 98-938 (La. 9/4/98), 723 So.2d 955.
State v. Alexander, 04-788, pp. 1-2 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/17/04), 888 So.2d 401, 402 (alteration added), this court
When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, appellate
courts are 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), and must
determine "whether 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. Captville, 448 So.2d 676, 678 (La. 1984). .
. . Therefore, we must determine 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 he did not act in self-defense.
on questions of the sufficiency of the evidence, the
appellate court's function is not to assess the
credibility of witnesses or reweigh the evidence.
State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661
pertinent evidence presented at the trial of this matter is
outlined below. Jared Istre, an officer in the Crimes Against
Persons section of the Lafayette Police Department, was the
first witness called by the State. Officer Istre testified
that on the morning of October 15, 2012, he received a call
to investigate a body discovered in the bushes outside an
office on Polk Street. Officer Istre stated that the person
who called the police thought the man was sleeping, but upon
his arrival at the scene, he realized that the man was dead.
According to Officer Istre, it became a homicide
investigation after the coroner arrived and lifted the
victim's shirt to reveal a single stab wound to his
chest. A driver's license found in the victim's
wallet identified him as Luke Michael Darby. Police officers
then began canvassing the area and were able to follow a
blood trail to a parking garage on the corner of Vermilion
and Polk Streets. Officer Istre learned that a stabbing had
occurred nearby on the corner of Jefferson and Vermilion
Streets just prior to the altercation at issue in this appeal
and that at least five police officers had responded to that
incident. Officer Istre was able to verify that all of the
suspects and victims of that incident were accounted for,
which ruled out the possibility that Mr. Darby was injured in
that first stabbing. During the police's search of the
area in conjunction with this incident, an attendant for the
parking garage on Vermilion Street informed another police
officer that a knife had been found in the garage. The knife
was collected and swabbed for DNA analysis.
to Officer Istre, a tip was called into the police department
indicating that Mr. Landry was a witness to the victim's
stabbing. Mr. Landry was brought in for an interview during
which Officer Istre learned that Defendant, a co-worker of
Mr. Landry, had stabbed the victim. Thereafter, Mr. Landry
and Officer Istre returned to the crime scene where Mr.
Landry was videotaped as he described the events leading up
to the victim's stabbing. Mr. Landry pointed out where
Defendant tossed the knife after the victim was stabbed,
which location was consistent with where the parking garage
attendant said the knife given to the police was found.
arrest warrant was issued for Defendant, and he was taken
into custody in Texas, where he was working. Officer Istre
traveled to Texas on October 17, 2012, having Defendant sign
an advice of rights form before questioning him about the
stabbing. Officer Istre testified that initially Defendant
denied being downtown on the night of the
stabbing. However, after Officer Istre suggested to
Defendant that perhaps he stabbed the victim in self-defense
of his brother, Defendant began to cry and nodded his head in
agreement when questioned about the stabbing. Eventually,
Defendant told Officer Istre that as he, Travis, and Mr.
Landry were passing the parking garage, the victim walked out
and bumped shoulders with Travis. The victim then told
Travis, "I'm going to fucking kill you, " and
punched him in the face. Defendant stated that he pulled out
his knife and swung at the victim's chest. Although he
believed he cut the victim, Defendant did not think he hurt
the victim "that bad" because the victim ran away
toward Polk Street. Defendant told Officer Istre that he then
ran toward where his car was parked across the street in
front of Parc San Souci, tossing his knife into the parking
garage as he passed it. Defendant stated that he later asked
Mr. Landry to see if he could retrieve the knife. Although
Defendant acknowledged that he saw some officers nearby in
connection with the earlier incident, he did not tell them
about what had just occurred nor did he call the police to
report that he had stabbed someone in self-defense after that
person attacked his brother. Officer Istre testified that
Defendant said he never saw a weapon on the victim. A
videotape of Defendant's one-hour-and-eight-minute
interview was played to the jury.
direct examination, Officer Istre relayed that when he
interviewed Travis three days after the stabbing, he saw no
observable injuries to Travis' face. He admitted on
cross-examination, however, that Travis told him that his lip
was cut where the victim had punched him. Officer Istre was
questioned about a report he prepared wherein he noted that
according to the information on their driver's licenses,
Defendant, Travis, and the victim were all about the same
height, approximately 5'6" to 5'7" tall,
and they all weighed between 140 and 165 pounds.
his investigation, Officer Istre secured video from a
nightclub across the street from the parking garage which
showed a person believed to be the victim, who appeared to be
injured, stumbling from the parking garage, and heading
toward the office building where he was later found. That
video was played to the jury. According to Officer Istre, he
reviewed video taken by a security camera on the corner of
Jefferson and Vermilion Streets, which appeared to show the
victim yelling at the crowd during the incident that the
police responded to before he was stabbed. That video was not