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State v. Darnell

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 9, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
RAYMOND DARNELL Appellant

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 251, 486 Honorable Ramona L. Emanuel, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward K. Bauman Counsel for Appellant

          REBECCA A. EDWARDS WILLIAM J. EDWARDS Assistant District Attorneys Counsel for Appellee

          Before BROWN, MOORE, and STONE, JJ.

          BROWN, C.J.

         After being granted post-conviction relief, defendant, Raymond Darnell, was resentenced as a second felony offender to consecutive terms of 90 years at hard labor, without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, on an attempted first degree murder conviction and 45 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, on an attempted second degree murder conviction. A timely motion to reconsider was denied by the trial court. Defendant appeals his sentences as excessive. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Defendant was charged in a two-count bill of information with the attempted first degree murder of a Shreveport police officer and the attempted second degree murder of Arlicia McDonald, defendant's ex-girlfriend, when Darnell was 21 years old. Defendant's convictions and sentences were affirmed in State v. Darnell, 43, 048 (La.App. 2 Cir. 08/13/08), 988 So.2d 870, writ not considered, 08-2258 (La. 05/01/09), 6 So.3d 803. The facts which formed the basis for these charges were set forth in defendant's previous appeal. On the evening of May 17, 2006, defendant followed the victim, Ms. McDonald, from her place of employment, ultimately striking her vehicle with his own car and pushing it into a utility pole. Shreveport patrol officer Freddie Clinton arrived at the scene, and Ms. McDonald ran to him for protection. Defendant was armed with a .410 gauge single-shot sawed-off shotgun and, upon seeing the victim and Officer Clinton across the street, pointed the shotgun directly at both of them and fired. Thereafter, the following events transpired:

Officer Clinton returned fire while at the same time pulling Ms. McDonald around the rear of his police vehicle to take cover on the passenger side. Defendant reloaded his shotgun and moved to the driver's side of Officer Clinton's marked unit. A second police vehicle driven by Officer Josh Feliciano arrived and stopped behind Officer Clinton's unit. The video from this second police vehicle showed that the door on the driver's side of Officer Clinton's squad car was open and that defendant alternately pointed the weapon through the door and then over the hood of the police car attempting to get a clear shot.
Officer Clinton returned fire with his pistol over the hood of his police car. Realizing that Officer Clinton had emptied his magazine, defendant ran around the front of the patrol unit and pointed his shotgun at both Officer Clinton and Ms. McDonald as they started to run away. Defendant shot at close range striking Ms. McDonald in the backside, rear upper thigh area. Ms. McDonald was only a step behind Officer Clinton at the moment defendant fired. Defendant then proceeded to hit Ms. McDonald in the head with his shotgun. Officer Feliciano fired several shots at defendant, one of which struck him in the chest and knocked him to the ground. At this point, defendant started screaming out his lawyer's name.[1]

State v. Darnell, 988 So.2d at 873.

         On December 5, 2012, defendant was granted post-conviction relief, and the matter was remanded for a resentencing hearing on the grounds of conflict of interest.[2] At the July 15, 2015, proceedings, defendant presented mitigating evidence of his abuse and alleged mental issues.

         That evidence included the testimony of Dr. Sarah Deland, an expert in forensic psychiatry, and two of defendant's siblings, who testified regarding defendant's childhood with his five siblings, an abusive father, and the effects of the abuse on defendant. The witnesses confirmed that defendant's father's drinking led to the outbursts of anger, violence, and "moderately severe" physical confrontations that occurred "very frequently, sometimes daily, " for a period of several years. As the oldest of six children, defendant tried to protect some of the younger children from abuse.

         Regarding defendant's mental state, Dr. Deland testified that as a result of the abuse, he manifested symptoms of "post-traumatic stress disorder, " although she would not give him "the full-blown diagnosis" due to lack of sufficient information. These symptoms included mood instability, irritability, difficulty getting along with people, trouble sleeping, and paranoia. Dr. Deland also did not conclude that defendant had a personality disorder, but found that he had "narcissistic personality traits and some paranoid personality traits" that lend themselves to a "conflictual existence with the world." In fact, defendant's family revealed that he had "very little frustration tolerance" and did "not handle limits very well, " i.e., defendant got angry very quickly and had trouble with "being told no and authority." Dr. Deland confirmed that defendant was experiencing sleep disturbance and was sleeping with weapons, including a butcher knife, for protection in the weeks preceding the incident. Dr. Deland also learned that defendant had greatly increased his alcohol intake, which was "very different" for defendant because he had not been a substance abuser in the past. Defendant informed Dr. Deland that he had been drinking up to a case of beer a day, and in the months leading to the incident, had also ...


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