FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 520-742,
SECTION "E" Honorable Keva M. Landrum-Johnson,
A. CANNIZZARO, JR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORLEANS PARISH DONNA
ANDRIEU ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHRISTOPHER J. PONOROFF
ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF
E. REGAN, JR. GRAHAM DAPONTE REGAN LAW, PLC COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Joy Cossich
Lobrano, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore
Cossich Lobrano, Judge
Ardulrauman Zeitoun ("Defendant") seeks review of
his conviction for stalking a person for whose benefit a
protective order has been issued and his sentence of four
years at hard labor in the custody of the Louisiana
Department of Corrections. For the reasons that follow, we
affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence.
victim, K.Z., met Defendant in 1994. They were married
that same year, and had four children together. After a March
2011 incident where Defendant was arrested for beating her,
K.Z. eventually decided to divorce Defendant. Upon telling
Defendant of her decision, Defendant said to K.Z.,
"[d]rop this [explicative] or I'll finish your
life." K.Z. continued with the divorce, and the divorce
was finalized on February 8, 2012.
of the property settlement after the divorce, K.Z. became
responsible for managing the former couple's rental
properties and was awarded ten percent of the rental income.
The upkeep on the properties was a time-consuming
responsibility, so K.Z. was frequently present at one of the
properties. The property settlement also allowed Defendant to
live in the property that had been the primary residence
during the marriage (the "Residence") on the
condition that he paid the mortgage and the utility bills.
Defendant failed to do so, and he vacated the Residence.
Eventually, K.Z. moved into the Residence.
incidents occurred after Defendant moved out of the
Residence. First, a July 25, 2012 incident resulted in
Defendant being charged with attempted first degree murder.
See La. R.S. 14:(27)30. K.Z. testified that she and
Defendant had a closing at a law office that they were
scheduled to attend at different times. After completing her
business, K.Z. left the law office and proceeded to her car.
As she attempted to pull out of the parking space, Defendant
pulled his van up beside her vehicle, which prevented her
from leaving or opening her door. Defendant exited the van
with a tire iron and began striking K.Z.'s vehicle and
her windshield, causing it to break. K.Z. managed to slide
over to the passenger side, unlock the door, and run down the
street. Defendant chased after her and struck her with a tire
iron. She fell to the ground, and Defendant dropped the tire
iron. His hands now free, Defendant grabbed K.Z. by the head
and began beating her in the head and back. Then, Defendant
started to strangle her. K.Z. stated that he tried to break
her neck, and that Defendant intended to kill her. A
bystander was able to get Defendant off of her in time. K.Z.
was certain that she would have died had someone not
intervened. She was suffocating.
second incident took place on April 30, 2014, when Defendant
violated a protective order. On October 2, 2012, a protective
order (the "Order") was entered by a judge in Civil
District Court. The terms of the Order barred Defendant from
coming within 100 yards of K.Z. or contacting her by any
means. The Order also required that Defendant stay at least
100 yards away from the rental properties managed by
Despite the Order, Defendant returned to the rental
properties managed by K.Z. On April 30, 2014, Defendant drove
by one of the rental properties in a white cargo van while
K.Z. was there with her daughter, N.Z. N.Z. was watering the
front lawn when Defendant drove past and waved at her once,
slowly. Officer Samuel Jennings ("Officer
Jennings") responded to the incident. After hearing K.Z.
and N.Z.'s statements, and learning of the Order, he
prepared an arrest warrant for Defendant. Defendant was
arrested for violation of protective orders. See La.
than a month later, on May 16, 2014, a third incident
occurred between K.Z. and Defendant. K.Z. was at another one
of the rental properties doing some painting with her
children. After Defendant's release from custody she
began carrying a handgun, for which she has a permit.
However, while she was painting, she put the gun down. At one
point she had to go out to her vehicle to retrieve something.
The white cargo van Defendant had previously driven by the
Residence in was parked in front of the property, ten or
fifteen feet away. As she exited the gate, she looked up and
saw Defendant's van blocking her in, as it had been
before, on the day of the tire iron attack. Defendant was in
the van. K.Z. immediately thought he was going to attack her
again. She reached for her gun only to realize she had left
it inside. K.Z. panicked, started screaming, and ran back
inside. Her children came outside, and Defendant drove off
slowly. K.Z. contacted the police, and Defendant was
ultimately arrested for violation of protective orders.
See La. R.S. 14:79. On June 25, 2014, as a condition
of reducing Defendant's post-indictment bond, Defendant
was again prohibited from contacting K.Z. or going to the
than two weeks later, on August 6, 2014, a fourth incident
occurred when Defendant contacted K.Z. by phone. K.Z.
captured a screenshot of the call, and recorded part of the
conversation. During the call, Defendant attempted to
set up a meeting with K.Z., despite the Order, regarding
transferring some property. K.Z. insisted that Defendant
contact her attorney to perfect any transactions stating,
"[y]ou have to meet with my attorney, not me." K.Z.
then contacted her attorney and the prosecutor to report
Defendant's phone call. Despite K.Z.'s attempts to
keep Defendant from contacting her, at 6:24 a.m. the next
morning, Defendant called her again. She did not
September and October of 2014, three more incidents occurred
between K.Z. and Defendant. At this time, K.Z.'s
children, including N.Z., and their roommates were living at
the Residence. On September 16, 2014, K.Z. received a call
from N.Z., who informed her that Defendant was at the
Residence. N.Z. had been sleeping when she heard the dog
barking in the backyard. She looked out the window and saw
Defendant walking in the yard with a ladder, attempting to
ward the dog off. N.Z. got one of her roommates to escort her
out of the house and the two drove away. K.Z. panicked and
called 911. Defendant was subsequently arrested for violation
of protective orders. See La. R.S. 14:79. Following
Defendant's arrest, the district court again admonished
Defendant that he was to have absolutely no contact with K.Z.
or with the children.
than a week later, on September 22, 2014, K.Z. received
another phone call from N.Z. telling her that Defendant was
at the Residence. Once again, N.Z. heard the dog barking.
Then, when she neared the main room of the house where her
roommates were located, she heard Defendant's voice. When
he saw her, he stated, "You come here." At that
point, N.Z. ran to a neighbor's house and called the
police. K.Z. also contacted the police,  and Defendant was
subsequently arrested for violation of protective orders.
See La. R.S. 14:79. The district court once again
explicitly ordered Defendant to have no further contact with
K.Z. or her children. Despite this order, Defendant called
K.Z. just twelve days later, on October 4, 2014. K.Z. felt
that this call was an attempt by Defendant to let her know
that that he was still there, and that he was not going
these incidents affected the rental business. A tenant who
used to live at one of K.Z.'s rental properties near the
Residence testified that she moved out in April of 2014
because she was afraid that something might happen at the
rental property when she was at home, or when her children
were there alone after school. K.Z. advised the tenant to
Google her prior to moving into the property. At first, the
tenant thought that it would be safe because Defendant was in
jail. However, Defendant's behavior upon his release
altered her opinion.
one incident, Defendant released two goats into the
tenant's backyard. Later, on January 26, 2014, Defendant
randomly cut down a tree in the tenant's front yard. The
tenant also spotted Defendant hiding out in the apartment
next door, one of the rental properties Defendant was
prohibited from accessing by the Order. She found it strange
that Defendant was in the apartment despite the fact that it
had no electrical service.
tenant was forced to call the police four or five times
during the time she resided at the rental property. Officer
Charles Augustus ("Officer Augustus") interviewed
the tenant after one of the times that she saw Defendant in
the apartment next door. After his interview with the tenant,
Officer Augustus prepared a warrant for Defendant's
arrest. Another warrant for Defendant's arrest was
generated as a result of the tree-felling
23, 2014, Defendant was indicted for felony stalking in
violation of a protective order between January 26, 2014 and
May 16, 2014. The indictment also alleged that Defendant
placed the victim in reasonable fear of death or bodily
injury, in violation of La. R.S. 14:40.2(B)(2)(a). Defendant
was arraigned on June 25, 2014, and entered a plea of not
guilty. The bill of indictment was eventually amended to
extend the period of alleged stalking to January 26, 2014
through October 4, 2014.
December 16, 2014, the State filed a notice of intent
pursuant to Louisiana Code of Evidence article 404(B) to
introduce evidence of Defendant's prior bad acts.
Defendant filed his opposition to the State's notice on
March 13, 2015. A contradictory hearing was held on March 26,
2015. The district court granted in part and denied in part
the State's motion, but agreed to reconsider its ruling
after post-hearing briefing. On May 5, 2015, the district
court denied the State's motion for reconsideration, and
affirmed its original ruling. The State sought supervisory
review of the district court's ruling. This Court granted
the writ and reversed the district court's ruling as to,
among other things, the admissibility of the tire iron
attack. State v. Zeitoun, unpub., 2015-0580 (La.App.
4 Cir. 6/1/15), writ denied, 2015-1285 (La.
9/25/15), 178 So.3d 571.
6, 2016, Defendant proceeded to trial. After a one-day bench
trial, the district court found Defendant guilty as charged.
On October 21, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for new trial.
He then filed amended motions for new trial on November 2 and
15, 2016. The district court denied the motion for new trial
on November 21, 2016. That same day, the district court
sentenced Defendant to serve four years in the Louisiana
Department of Corrections, finding that the elements
necessary to trigger the sentencing enhancement for placing
the victim, for whom a protective order had been issued, in
reasonable fear of death or bodily injury had been proven
beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant objected to the
sentence, but did not file a motion to reconsider sentence.
appeal timely follows.