WRIT FROM THE THIRTY-FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF
JEFFERSON DAVIS, DISTRICT COURT DOCKET NO. CR-367-16
HONORABLE STEVE GUNNELL, JUDGE
P. Johnson The Johnson Firm Lake Charles COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPLICANT: David Newsom.
Bennett R. LaPoint Assistant District Attorney Jennings,
Louisiana COUNSEL FOR RESPONDENT: State of Louisiana.
composed of John D. Saunders, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John
E. Conery, Judges.
GRANTED AND MADE PEREMPTORY.
E. CONERY JUDGE.
a pre-trial writ filed by the State of Louisiana. Trial is
currently scheduled for September 14, 2017.
was arraigned on August 8, 2016, for operating a vehicle
while intoxicated, a violation of La.R.S. 14:98. On November
17, 2016, Defendant filed a "Motion to Suppress
Evidence, " a "Supplemental Motion to Suppress
Evidence with Incorporated Memorandum, " and a
"Notice of Objection to the Introduction of the
State's Crime Lab Certificates into Evidence as Prima
Facie Proof of the Assertions Contained Therein."
Hearings were held on May 11 and 15, 2017, to address all the
issues raised in the above three pleadings. The trial court
granted Defendant's motions to suppress the blood/alcohol
results and the statements made by defendant to the
investigating Louisiana state troopers.
State of Louisiana now seeks review of the trial court's
rulings. The issues raised are whether Defendant's verbal
consent for the blood/alcohol test was valid and whether the
statements were freely and voluntarily made. For the
following reasons, we find that the trial court erred when it
granted Defendant's motions to suppress the evidence.
Accordingly, this court grants and makes peremptory the
State's writ, vacates the trial court's ruling, and
remands the matter for further proceedings.
6, 2016, Defendant was involved in a single vehicle accident
in Jefferson Davis Parish. He was injured and subsequently
taken by a medical helicopter to a hospital in Lafayette. At
the hospital, Defendant gave statements to Louisiana State
Trooper John Sims. Defendant also consented to a
blood/alcohol test that showed he was over the legal limit.
Defendant was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle
ADDUCED AT MAY 11, 2017 MOTION HEARING
Sims and Scott O'Connell, troopers with the Louisiana
State Police, testified at the hearing, and several documents
were introduced by the State and Defendant, which are
attached as exhibits to the State's writ application:
State's Exhibit 1: Arrestee's Rights Form, Rights
Relating to Chemical Test for Intoxication.
State's Exhibit 2: Notice to Withdraw Blood for Chemical
Test for Intoxication.
State's Exhibit 3 and Defense's Exhibit 3:
State's Exhibit 4: "Initial Observation" and
the traffic citation.
State's Exhibits 5 and 6: Blood/alcohol test kit
containing "Consent Form."
Defense's Exhibit 1: "Certificate of Arrest."
Defense's Exhibit 2: "Certificate of
Authenticity" and the ambulance service records.
Sims testified that he was requested by Trooper
O'Connell, who remained at the scene of the accident, to
go to the hospital and interview Defendant and to begin the
necessary paper work. Trooper Sims stated that when he first
encountered Defendant, he could smell the odor of alcohol.
Defendant's eyes were bloodshot and his speech was
slurred. Trooper Sims determined there was probable cause to
arrest Defendant for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
The trooper testified that Defendant was conscious and
coherent. Trooper Sims stated he gave Defendant the
Miranda warnings prior to questioning him. The
trooper contended that Defendant gave him verbal consent to
do a blood/alcohol test and that Defendant acknowledged the
Miranda rights he was giving ...