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State v. Newsom

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

September 6, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
DAVID RAY NEWSOM

         SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE THIRTY-FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON DAVIS, DISTRICT COURT DOCKET NO. CR-367-16 HONORABLE STEVE GUNNELL, JUDGE

          Adam 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.

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

         WRIT GRANTED AND MADE PEREMPTORY.

          JOHN E. CONERY JUDGE.

         This is a pre-trial writ filed by the State of Louisiana. Trial is currently scheduled for September 14, 2017.

         Defendant 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.

         The 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.

         FACTS

         On May 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 while intoxicated.

         EVIDENCE ADDUCED AT MAY 11, 2017 MOTION HEARING

         John 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: "Optional Test."
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.

         Trooper 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 ...


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