FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST.
LANDRY, NO. 15-K-2178-C HONORABLE ALONZO HARRIS, DISTRICT
B. Taylor District Attorney - 27th Judicial
District Court Jennifer M. Ardoin Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
Douglas Lee Harville COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Joseph
McKinley Guillory, AKA Joseph Guillory
composed of John D. Saunders, John E. Conery, and D. Kent
E. CONERY, JUDGE.
Joseph McKinley Guillory, was charged by indictment filed on
August 27, 2015, with the second degree murder of Haaymen
Douresseau, Jr., a violation of La.R.S. 14:30.1. On November
29, 2016, a jury found Defendant guilty as charged.
motion for new trial was filed on December 15, 2016. A
hearing on the motion was held on March 16, 2017, and the
trial court denied the motion. Defendant was then sentenced
to life imprisonment, without the benefit of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence. The sentence is to run
concurrently with any sentence Defendant is presently
appealed and is now before this court asserting two
assignments of error: 1) there was insufficient evidence to
prove he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of second
degree murder, and 2) the loss of exculpatory evidence denied
his constitutional rights of confrontation and due process.
For the following reasons, we affirm with instructions.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
15, 2015, Defendant stabbed Haaymen Douresseau, Jr. on or
near the sidewalk in front of Defendant's residence at
Acadian Village Apartments. Mr. Douresseau died as a result
of injuries from the stabbing. At trial, Defendant claimed
that Mr. Douresseau was the aggressor and that the stabbing
was justified because it was done in self-defense.
accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After
reviewing the record, we find that there are no errors
patent; however, the court minutes of sentencing require
correction. The sentencing transcript indicates that
Defendant's life sentence was imposed at hard labor, but
this is not reflected in the court minutes of sentencing.
"[W]hen the minutes and the transcript conflict, the
transcript prevails." State v. Wommack, 00-137,
p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/7/00), 770 So.2d 365, 369, writ
denied, 00-2051 (La. 9/21/01), 797 So.2d 62.
Accordingly, we order the trial court to correct the
sentencing minutes to accurately reflect that Defendant's
sentence is to be served at hard labor without benefit of
parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
first assignment of error, Defendant contends there was
insufficient evidence to prove that he was guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of second degree murder. We will first
discuss the standard of review.
The standard of review in a sufficiency of the evidence claim
is "whether, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact
could have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt of each of
the essential elements of the crime charged." State
v. Leger, 05-11, p. 91 (La. 7/10/06), 936 So.2d 108,
170, cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1221, 127 S.Ct. 1279,
167 L.Ed.2d 100 (2007) (citing Jackson v. Virginia,
443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), and
State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676 (La.1984)). The
Jackson standard of review is now legislatively
embodied in La.Code Crim.P. art. 821. It does not allow the
appellate court "to substitute its own appreciation of
the evidence for that of the fact-finder." State v.
Pigford, 05-477, p. 6 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517, 521
(citing State v. Robertson, 96-1048 (La. 10/4/96),
680 So.2d 1165, and State v. Lubrano, 563 So.2d 847
(La.1990)). The appellate court's function is not to
assess the credibility of witnesses or to reweigh the
evidence. State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95),
661 So.2d 442.
The factfinder's role is to weigh the credibility of
witnesses. State v. Ryan, 07-504 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/7/07), 969 So.2d 1268. Thus, other than insuring the
sufficiency evaluation standard of Jackson,
"the appellate court should not second-guess the
credibility determination of the trier of fact, " but
rather, it should defer to the rational credibility and
evidentiary determinations of the jury. Id. at 1270
(quoting State v. Lambert, 97-64, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3
Cir. 9/30/98), 720 So.2d 724, 726-27). Our supreme court has
However, an appellate court may impinge on the fact
finder's discretion and its role in determining the
credibility of witnesses "only to the extent necessary
to guarantee the fundamental due process of law."
State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1310 (La.1988). In
determining the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a
conviction, an appellate court must preserve " 'the
factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence' by
reviewing 'all of the evidence . . . in the light most
favorable to the prosecution.' " McDaniel v.
Brown, 558 U.S. 120, 134, 130 S.Ct. 665, 674, 175
L.Ed.2d 582 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979)). When
so viewed by an appellate court, the relevant question is
whether, on the evidence presented at trial,
"any rational trier of fact could have found
the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt." Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at
State v. Cofer, 16-871 pp.3-4 (La.App. 3 Cir.
4/5/17), 216 So.3d 313, 316-17.
now review the law as it pertains to the crime charged,
Defendant's claim of self-defense and his alternative
claim that the responsive verdict of manslaughter is
"Second degree murder is the killing of a human
being" with the "specific intent to kill or to
inflict great bodily harm[.]" La.R.S. 14:30.1(A)(1).
"Specific criminal intent is that state of mind which
exists when the circumstances indicate that the offender
actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to
follow his act or failure to act." La.R.S. 14:10(1). . .
[I]n a case in which defendant asserts that he acted in
self-defense, the state has the burden of establishing beyond
a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense.
State v. Brown, 414 So.2d 726, 728 (La.1982). When
defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in such
a case, the question becomes 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
the homicide was not committed in self-defense.
State ex rel. D.P.B., 02-1742, p. 5 (La. 5/20/03),
846 So.2d 753, 756- 57 (footnote omitted).
Revised Statutes 14:20(A) states, in pertinent part:
A homicide is justifiable:
(1) When 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.
. . . .
State v. Fox, 15-692, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/3/16),
184 So.3d 886, 890, writ denied, 16-404
(La.3/13/17),  So.3d , this court stated:
"In examining a self-defense claim, it is necessary to
consider: (1) whether the defendant reasonably believed that
he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm; (2)
whether the killing was necessary to prevent that death or
great bodily harm; and (3) whether the defendant was the
aggressor in the conflict." State v. Mayes,
14-683, pp. 2-3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/23/14), 154 So.3d 1257,
1259, writs denied, 15-178, 15-220 (La. 11/16/15),
184 So.3d 24. Additionally, in determining whether the
defendant had a reasonable belief that the killing was
necessary, it is appropriate to consider "the excitement
and confusion of the situation, the possibility of using
force or violence short of killing, and the defendant's
knowledge of the assailant's bad character."
State v. Thomas, 43, 100, p. 5 (La.App. 2 Cir.
4/30/08), 981 So.2d 850, 854, writ denied, 08-1276
(La. 2/6/09), 999 So.2d 769.
"Manslaughter is [a] homicide which would be [first or
second degree murder], but the offense is committed in sudden
passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation
sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control
and cool reflection." La.R.S. 14:31(A)(1). " '
Sudden passion' and 'heat of blood' are not
elements of the offense of manslaughter; rather they are
factors which serve to mitigate murder to manslaughter."
State v. Vercher, 14-1211, p. 10 (La.App. 3 Cir.
5/6/15), 162 So.3d 740, 746, writ denied, 15-1124
(La. 5/20/16), 191 So.3d 1065. The defendant must prove these
mitigating factors by a preponderance of the evidence.
State v. Guillory, 16-237 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/2/16),
206 So.3d 1153.
Cofer, 216 So.3d at 316-18 (alterations in
OF THE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL
now apply the law to the evidence at trial.
review of the evidence begins with the testimony of Dr.
Christopher Tape, who was accepted as an expert in medicine
with a specialty in forensic pathology. Dr. Tape performed an
autopsy on Mr. Douresseau on May 18, 2015. Dr. Tape testified
there was a stab wound on Mr. Douresseau's left side
under and slightly in front of the armpit, and a stab wound
that went through the left arm. The wound to the side went
into the chest cavity and down into the left lung. The depth
of the stab wound to the chest was just under four inches.
Dr. Tape testified that the wound to the arm was consistent
with a defensive wound. Dr. Tape was further questioned about
the wound to Mr. Douresseau's arm as follows:
Q. Could it be consistent with a wild left hand punch with
the forearm being exposed with a stab occurring at the same
Q. It could be, right?
Q. So, then it's not necessarily defensive is it?
A. That's correct.
Q. So, there's no real sure way to say defensive? It just
maybe [sic] indicative one way or the other?
A. That's why we use the language consistent.
Tape testified Mr. Douresseau's blood alcohol level was
.15 percent. He also had a cocaine metabolite,
benzoylecgonine, in his system. Evidence strongly suggested
Mr. Douresseau consumed the cocaine first. However, Dr. Tape
testified there was no way to determine when the cocaine was
Savoie, who had ten years of experience as Deputy Coroner for
St. Landry Parish, examined Mr. Douresseau's body at the
hospital on May 15, 2015 between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. Mr.
Savoie noted that Mr. Douresseau had lacerations to his left
arm and left chest. Mr. Savoie did not see any weapons in Mr.
Douresseau's possession, though he did not specifically
check for weapons. Mr. Savoie testified that a death
certificate was prepared by Dr. Pavich, the coroner. Mr.
Savoie agreed with Dr. Pavich's findings that the stab
wound to Mr. Douresseau's left chest was fatal, and the
wound to his left forearm was a defensive wound.
Corina Noblett testified that she was employed by the Eunice
Police Department. She was on duty on May 15, 2015, and was
dispatched to Acadian Village. Upon her arrival, she saw a
black male laying on the ground and a black female, who was
an off-duty registered nurse, doing chest compressions on the
man. Officer Noblett took over chest compressions and was
aided by Officer Mary Guillory.
Noblett did not see any weapons in the surrounding area and
did not check Mr. Douresseau's body for weapons. She
subsequently secured the scene, as there were people in the
crime scene area that had to be moved. According to Officer
Noblett, none of the onlookers got close to Mr. Douresseau
during the time chest compressions were being performed.
Mary Guillory was employed by the Eunice Police Department on
May 15, 2015, and rode with Officer Noblett to Acadian
Village. Upon her arrival, Officer Guillory observed a male
lying on the ground bleeding. Officer Noblett relieved a lady
doing chest compressions, and people in the area around the
man were "backed . . . off." Officer Guillory
subsequently performed chest compressions on the man. Neither
she nor Officer Noblett removed anything from the area, and
she did not observe any weapons.
Guillory stated that a few people were still in the crime
scene area after Mr. Douresseau was removed from the scene by
emergency medical personnel but before crime scene tape was
put up. After the ambulance left, Officer Guillory kept a
crime scene log. Officer Guillory testified that all persons
who entered the area after crime scene tape was put up were
Willis was an EMT with St. Landry EMS. Upon his arrival at
Acadian Village, he saw a black male lying on the ground. The
man, later identified as Mr. Douresseau, was bleeding and CPR
was being performed. The man was subsequently placed in an
ambulance and transported to the Acadiana Medical Center. Mr.
Willis did not observe any weapons when the man was moved
from the scene. He did not search for weapons, but testified
that if there had been a weapon in the area, he would have
noted it. Mr. Willis reported "a lot" of people,
which would have been more than three or four, were present
at the scene when he arrived. This included a mix of
civilians and police officers.
Lavergne was employed by Acadiana Medical Center as a
registered nurse in the emergency room (ER). He started an IV
on Mr. Douresseau and helped physicians insert a chest tube.
Mr. Lavergne testified that Mr. Douresseau's clothes were
removed, placed in paper bags, and given to the Eunice Police
Department. Mr. Lavergne testified that staff typically
looked for items in clothing, and he did not find any
Martel was employed by the Acadiana Medical Center ER as a
registered nurse. He triaged Mr. Douresseau and did not find
any weapons on his person. Mr. Martel indicated he normally
looked for weapons on persons seeking treatment in the ER.
However, a pat down would not have been conducted.
Fuselier was employed by the Eunice Housing Authority. Ms.
Fuselier testified that Naomi Dupree, Defendant's
girlfriend, had executed a dwelling lease that was to include
the names of all individuals who would live in an apartment
with Ms. Dupree. Ms. Dupree did not list Defendant's name
on that lease, and the lease was terminated after the events
of May 15, 2015. Ms. Dupree's lease also specifically
excluded the possession of weapons of any kind, including
knives. Ms. Fuselier testified that she had seen Defendant on
the premises in the past, but she did not know he resided at
the apartment. Mr. Douresseau's mother also leased an
apartment at Acadian Village, and Mr. Douresseau's name
was not listed on her lease either. Ms. Fuselier stated,
however, that neither Defendant nor Mr. Douresseau were
forbidden from being on the premises.
contacted Ms. Fuselier about the events of May 15, 2015. She
went with police to review video footage of the incident at
the Housing Authority's security substation. The footage
was located on a DVR. Police requested a copy of the footage.
Ms. Fuselier did not know how to make a copy. Sergeant
Nicholas Cooley used his cell phone to record the footage as
it played. Ms. Fuselier was not contacted about the footage
again until a week and a half before trial. The original DVR
footage was not available at that time because the system
automatically recorded over it two weeks to a month after the
incident. All that was available was the recording of the
video on Sergeant Cooley's cell phone.
Vidrine was the only eyewitness called to testify by the
State. Ms. Vidrine was Defendant's first cousin and was
at his girlfriend's apartment on May 15, 2015. She was
standing by Defendant next to the apartment when she first
noticed Mr. Douresseau walk "up to the sidewalk."
Ms. Vidrine's sister and Defendant's children, who
were playing on the sidewalk, were also present. Ms. Vidrine
thought Ms. Dupree was standing by the apartment door at the
Vidrine assumed Mr. Douresseau was walking home when she saw
him, as he lived two doors down from her at the apartment
complex, and he was walking and talking to himself. The
Defendant said something while the victim, Mr. Douresseau,
was walking. Mr. Douresseau then stopped on the sidewalk and
Defendant approached him. Ms. Vidrine then testified that
Defendant asked Mr. Douresseau who he was talking to. Mr.
Douresseau responded, but Ms. Vidrine did not recall what he
said. She testified that she had trouble understanding Mr.
Douresseau in the past. Mr. Douresseau continued to stand on
the sidewalk and, according to Ms. Vidrine, he did not
approach the Defendant.
Vidrine was questioned about what occurred as follows:
Q. Okay. Uh, Haaymen Douresseau said something back. You
didn't understand correct?
A. Yes, sir.
. . . .
Q. How far do you recall Mr. Joseph Guillory going towards
. . . .
Q. Okay. Did he go, did he go passed [sic] the middle
A. No. He… (inaudible). It was, it was between that
middle sidewalk and that, his sidewalk by his apartment. He
was right there.
Q. So, it would be, it would be considered his yard?
Q. Okay. If the, near the bicycle, where the bicycle was on
A. No response recorded.
Vidrine was further questioned as follows:
Q. And when Joseph Guillory approached Haaymen Douresseau,
did you see what Haaymen Douresseau did?
A. I don't remember.
Q, Did you watch your video this morning?
Q. Do you recall saying to the officer at the time that
Douresseau put his arms like this?
Q. Is that what, is that what you saw?
Q. Did he have anything in his ...