FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 8397-15 HONORABLE G. MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT
J. Ellis, III Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Patrick Seth Jones.
Patrick Seth Jones, Camp C - Wolf 1, Louisiana State Prison,
In Proper Person, John Foster DeRosier Fourteenth Judicial
District Attorney, Karen C. McLellan, Assistant District
Attorney P. O. Box 3206 Lake Charles, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE:
State of Louisiana
B. Hawkins Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Van
H. Kyzar, Judges.
SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE.
January 19, 2015, two men, one masked and the other unmasked,
robbed the Royal Palace Casino and employees and patrons of
the casino in Calcasieu Parish. Defendant, Mr. Patrick Seth
Jones, appeals his convictions on four counts of armed
robbery for being the masked gunman who perpetrated the
robberies, as well as his sentences for those crimes. For the
reasons that follow, Defendant's convictions and
sentences are affirmed.
Daniel Lavergne entered the Royal Palace Casino on the night
of January 19, 2015, and shortly thereafter exited it. He
repeated this behavior once again, before entering the casino
a third time and walking to the bar, where he ordered a
"Crown and Coke" from the assistant
manager/cashier/bartender, Ms. Sarah Bushnell. When he was
told that he would be charged $6.00 for that drink, Mr.
individual entered the casino wearing a mask, gloves, dark
pants, a red flannel shirt, and a jacket. The security guard,
Ms. Clara Williams, told him he must remove the mask to
enter. This person struck Ms. Williams in the head, grabbed
her by the shirt, and hurled her to the floor. He then began
to frisk Ms. Williams, demanding to know where her gun was.
By this time, the masked individual had produced a gun
Lavergne then moved to the doors to act as a lookout while
the masked man led Ms. Bushnell to the back. Ms. Bushnell and
Ms. Williams opened the casino safe for the masked robber.
Mr. Lavergne robbed items from the other casino customers.
The two bandits fled in a dark SUV that had been backed into
a handicapped parking space just outside the main entrance.
Ms. Bushnell then called police.
Shaun Stewart of the Sulphur Police Department investigated
the crime. Detective Stewart obtained the surveillance video
from the casino and contacted the Orange, Texas, Police
Department. Members of that department identified Mr.
Lavergne as the unmasked perpetrator from his distinctive
hair style, facial hair, and neck tattoo. According to
Detective Stewart, on May 4, 2015, he interviewed Mr.
Lavergne, who gave a statement implicating Defendant as the
Detective Stewart ascertained that Lavergne and Defendant had
been to the L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles that
same night. Detective Stewart obtained surveillance video
from that casino, and observed Lavergne and Defendant
departing the casino in a dark SUV such as the one observed
by Ms. Williams at the Royal Palace.
was arrested in Orange, Texas, in a convenience store parking
lot. He was driving a dark green Toyota Sequoia SUV.
March 18, 2015, Defendant was charged by bill of information
with four counts of armed robbery, violations of La.R.S.
14:64, and four counts of armed robbery with a firearm,
violations of La.R.S. 14:64.3. On May 3, 2016, the State
amended the bill to combine the charges and reflect only four
counts of armed robbery with a firearm, violations of La.R.S.
14:64 and 14:64.3.
trial, Mr. Lavergne recanted his identification of Defendant
as the masked perpetrator. Mr. Lavergne testified that he was
subpoenaed to testify and was not doing so as part of his
plea agreement. When asked if another individual was with him
when he robbed the casino, Mr. Lavergne replied,
"I'd rather not answer that." Mr. Lavergne also
denied giving a statement to Detective Stewart. Although Mr.
Lavergne stated that the signature on a rights form looked
like his signature, he did not recall giving a statement or
signing the form. After being shown a transcript of the May
4, 2015, statement he gave to Detective Stewart, Mr. Lavergne
denied giving the statement. Mr. Lavergne denied arriving at
the L'Auberge du Lac in a green Toyota Sequoia, and
denied knowing how Defendant arrived there. Mr. Lavergne
testified that he could not recall how he had arrived at the
Royal Palace. He further testified that he was picked up from
the Royal Palace by a taxi that returned him to Orange,
phone transcripts were introduced that contained text
messages exchanged between Mr. Lavergne and Defendant. These
text messages discussed splitting cash between the two men.
Mr. Lavergne testified that the money discussed represented
Defendant's winnings from playing blackjack at the Isle
of Capri Casino. Mr. Lavergne had received $13, 000.00 in a
personal injury settlement, and he frequently carried
substantial sums of cash. Defendant borrowed money from Mr.
Lavergne in order to play blackjack and agreed to split his
winnings with him.
testified at trial. He testified that after they left
L'Auberge du Lac, he and Mr. Lavergne drove back to
Orange, Texas, and he allowed Mr. Lavergne to borrow his
Toyota Sequoia. Defendant testified that he had won $7,
000.00 at the Isle of Capri, and the text messages between
him and Mr. Lavergne concerned the equitable sharing of those
winnings. He denied participating in the Royal Palace
6, 2016, Defendant was found guilty by a unanimous jury of
four counts of armed robbery with a firearm. On May 13, 2016,
Defendant filed a Motion for New Trial. The trial court
denied the motion for new trial on June 20, 2016, and
Defendant waived the time delays for sentencing. On that same
date, the trial court imposed the following sentences: 1)
Count one - fifty years at hard labor, plus five years for
the firearm enhancement; 2) Count two - twenty-five years at
hard labor, plus five years for the firearm enhancement; 3)
Count three - twenty years at hard labor, plus five years for
the firearm enhancement; and 4) ...