from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 340918 Honorable Katherine
Clark Dorroh, Judge
ANNETTE FULLER ROACH Counsel for Appellant.
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.
JAN JOHNSON JASON WAYNE WALTMAN JOSHUA K. WILLIAMS Assistant
WILLIAMS, STONE, and COX, JJ.
defendant, James Stewart, was charged with aggravated flight
from an officer, in violation of La. R.S. 14:108.1. Following
a jury trial, Stewart was found guilty as charged and
sentenced to serve five years at hard labor. Stewart now
appeals his conviction and sentence, alleging the evidence
was insufficient to support a conviction and his sentence is
excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm the
conviction and sentence.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Stewart ("Stewart") was arrested on May 16, 2016
and charged with aggravated flight from an officer in
violation of La. R.S. 14:108.1. After a trial by jury,
Stewart was found guilty as charged by a 10-2 vote. The trial
court sentenced Stewart to the statutory maximum penalty of
five years at hard labor.
appointed counsel filed a motion to reconsider sentence
claiming the evidence was insufficient to justify imposing
the maximum sentence. The trial court denied the motion.
Thereafter, Stewart filed a pro se motion to
reconsider sentence, which the trial court also denied.
Stewart now appeals.
appeal, Stewart does not dispute that he was guilty of flight
from an officer or the issue of identity, but instead focuses
on the evidence to support the aggravated aspect of the
charged offense. Stewart argues the state failed to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that a minimum of two of the
aggravating factors listed in La. R.S. 14:108.1(D) applied to
standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the
evidence claim is whether, after viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier
of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560
(1979); State v. Tate, 01-1658 (La. 05/20/03), 851
So.2d 921. The appellate court does not assess the
credibility of witnesses or reweigh evidence. State v.
Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442. A
reviewing court accords great deference to a jury's
decision to accept or reject the testimony of a witness in
whole or in part. State v. Eason, 43, 788 (La.App. 2
Cir. 02/25/09), 3 So.3d 685, writ denied, 09-0725
(La. 12/11/09), 23 So.3d 913, cert. denied, 561 U.S.
1013, 130 S.Ct. 3472, 177 L.Ed.2d 1068 (2010); State v.
Hill, 42, 025 (La.App. 2 Cir. 05/09/07), 956 So.2d 758,
writ denied, 07-1209 (La. 12/14/07), 970 So.2d 529.
evidence provides proof of the existence of a fact such as a
witness's testimony that he saw or heard something.
State v. Lilly, 468 So.2d 1154 (La. 1985).
Circumstantial evidence provides proof of collateral facts
and circumstances, from which the existence of the main fact
may be inferred according to reason and common experience.
Id. When the state relies on circumstantial evidence
to establish the existence of an essential element of a
crime, the court must assume every fact that the evidence
tends to prove and the circumstantial evidence must exclude
every reasonable hypothesis of innocence. La. R.S. 15:438;
Lilly, supra; State v. Robinson, 47, 437
(La.App. 2 Cir. 11/14/12), 106 So.3d 1028, writ
denied, 12-2658 (La. 05/17/13), 117 So.3d 918. The trier
of fact is charged with ...