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State v. Isaac

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

October 25, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
JONATHAN ISAAC

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 11-1878, DIVISION "F" HONORABLE MICHAEL P. MENTZ, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Juliet L. Clark

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, JONATHAN ISAAC Jane L. Beebe

          DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, Jonathan Isaac In Proper Person

          Panel composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and Robert M. Murphy

          MARC E. JOHNSON JUDGE

         Defendant appeals his convictions and sentences for five counts of armed robbery challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the denial of his motion to suppress the evidence, and the imposition of sentence without reasons. For the reasons that follow, we affirm Defendant's convictions and sentences.

         Defendant, Jonathan Isaac, was charged in a bill of information on May 18, 2011 with five counts of armed robbery in violation of La. R.S. 14:64.[1] He pled not guilty and proceeded to trial on June 27, 2016 before a 12-person jury. After a three-day trial, the jury found Defendant guilty as charged on all five counts. On July 18, 2016, the trial court sentenced Defendant to 55 years imprisonment on each count without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, to run concurrently with each other. Pursuant to the State's pre-trial notice of intent to invoke firearm sentencing provision under La. R.S. 14:64.3, the trial court further sentenced Defendant to an additional five years imprisonment on each count, also to be served without benefits, to run concurrently with each other and consecutively to the concurrent 55-year sentences.

         Prior to sentencing, the State had filed a multiple offender bill of information as to count one, alleging Defendant to be a second felony offender. After a hearing on August 18, 2016, the trial court adjudicated Defendant a second felony offender, vacated his sentence on count one, and resentenced Defendant on count one under La. R.S. 15:529.1 to 55 years imprisonment, to run concurrently with his sentences on counts two, three, four, and five. The trial court further ordered that the five-year enhancement under La. R.S. 14:64.3 on count one be served consecutively to the 55-year enhanced sentence.

         FACTS

         This case arises from a series of five armed robberies that occurred at various Jefferson Parish businesses over the span of approximately one month. The details of each armed robbery are as follows.

         March 6, 2011 - Armed Robbery of Ashley Arthur and Jayeshkumar Patel at the Subway on Barataria Boulevard (Counts One and Two)

         On March 6, 2011, Jayeshkumar Patel, manager at the Subway restaurant on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero, and Ashley Arthur, an employee, were working when they were robbed at gunpoint. Surveillance footage from the robbery depicted two men, armed with guns, dressed in dark pants, wearing hats and coverings on their faces, enter the restaurant and take money from Mr. Patel's wallet and the cash register. Mr. Patel testified that approximately one thousand dollars was taken from the cash register and one hundred dollars was taken from him. Outside the business, a Newport brand cigarette butt was discovered. The cigarette butt was sent to a DNA lab for testing, which revealed the cigarette butt was consistent with the DNA profile obtained from a reference sample of Defendant.

         March 13, 2011 - Armed Robbery of Adrian Labeaud and Dana Rhea at the Subway on Jefferson Highway (Counts Three and Four)

         On March 13, 2011, Dana Rhea and Adrian Labeaud were working at a Subway on Jefferson Highway when two armed men entered the restaurant from the backdoor. One of the perpetrators ordered Ms. Rhea to crawl on the floor to the cash register where she then opened the register and gave the man the cash. While Ms. Rhea was at the cash register, the second assailant put a gun to Mr. Labeaud's side and instructed him to keep his face down towards the ground.[2] After learning the whereabouts of the safe from Mr. Labeaud, the men also removed money from the safe before instructing Ms. Rhea and Mr. Labeaud to crawl to the back of the store and wait there.

         Deputy Richard Uyeda of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office ("JPSO") responded to the armed robbery. When he arrived, Mr. Labeaud and Ms. Rhea informed Deputy Uyeda that two black males, wearing bandanas over their faces and brandishing semi-automatic handguns, entered the store from the rear entrance and stole money from the cash register and the safe before ordering them to the ground and fleeing.

         As in the March 6, 2011 robbery, a Newport brand cigarette butt was discovered outside of the restaurant, and DNA analysis indicated that Defendant was the donor of the DNA on the cigarette butt. The police also obtained surveillance footage of the robbery, which depicted similarities to the March 6, 2011 robbery.

         March 24, 2011 - Armed Robbery of Nicholas Ramsak at GameStop on Belle Promenade (Count Five)

         On the evening of March 24, 2011, Nicholas Ramsak was working at the GameStop on Belle Promenade in Marrero when he was robbed at gunpoint. Mr. Ramsak testified that two men, one of whom was armed with a gun, entered the store, demanded the money from both cash registers, took the cash, ordered him to the ground, and then fled. Fingerprints taken from a video gaming accessory cabinet located behind the counter, which was inaccessible to the public, matched those of Defendant's.

         An arrest warrant for Defendant and a search warrant for his residence was obtained. Defendant was arrested and a pack of Newport brand cigarettes was recovered in the room in which he was arrested. Additionally, a search of Defendant's residence revealed clothing that matched the description of the clothing worn by one of the suspects from some of the robberies.

         Information obtained from Defendant's phone records further indicated that co-defendant Savage's phone was contacted frequently around the times of the robberies. Moreover, cell phone tower information obtained from Defendant and Savage's cell phone records placed both phones near the location of the robberies at the times they occurred. The police subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for Savage and a search warrant for his residence. Articles of clothing similar to the ones depicted in the surveillance videos were among items seized as a result of the search of Savage's residence and vehicle.[3]

         Following Savage's arrest, he was transported to the investigations bureau where, after being advised of his rights, he confessed to committing the armed robberies with Defendant and further identified Defendant from a photograph, stating that he had known him for a number of years. Savage also identified himself and Defendant from several of the screen shots taken from the surveillance videos of the robberies.

         During trial in this case, Savage testified that he had been convicted of the armed robberies with which Defendant was also being charged. He denied identifying Defendant as having committed the armed robberies with him, despite being confronted with the statement he provided to the police following his arrest. He maintained that he provided the statement under duress after being threatened by the police.[4]

         ISSUES

         On appeal, defense counsel's sole assignment of error is that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence. Defendant filed a pro se supplemental brief also challenging the denial of the motion to suppress and raising two additional ...


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