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State v. Anderson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 13, 2017



          Trent Brignac, District Attorney, Thirteenth Judicial District Court Julhelene E. Jackson Assistant District Attorney Post Office Drawer, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana.

          Douglas Lee Harville Louisiana Appellate Project 329 Southfield Road Post Office Box 52988 Shreveport, Louisiana 71135 (318) 222-1700 COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Samuel Anderson A/K/A Samuel Brent Anderson, Samuel Anderson Louisiana State Prison.

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.


         On January 28, 2015, a grand jury indicted Defendant Samuel Brent Anderson for first degree murder, a violation of La.R.S. 14:30, and armed robbery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:64. After various pretrial motions and hearings, the parties selected a jury on March 28, 2016. The jury heard evidence and argument on March 29 through April 1 and ultimately found Defendant guilty as charged on both counts. On July 28, the trial court sentenced Defendant to serve life in prison for the first degree murder conviction, with a consecutive fifty-year term for the armed robbery conviction.

         Defendant now appeals his convictions and sentences, assigning three errors. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm Defendant's murder conviction and vacate his armed robbery conviction.


         On July 28, 2014, Defendant was armed with a gun when he entered a store in Evangeline Parish, seeking to commit an armed robbery. In the course of the robbery, he shot proprietor Ann Nguyen, killing her.


         In accordance with La.Code CrimP. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After reviewing the record, we find no errors present.


         We will first discuss assignment of error number three. Defendant argues that his convictions for both first degree murder and armed robbery violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy, as the robbery was the act that elevated the homicide to first degree murder.

         This court has stated:

A person cannot twice be placed in jeopardy for the same offense. U.S. Const, amend. V; La. Const, art. I, § 15. The defendant argues, and the state acknowledges, that it is well-settled that convictions for both a felony murder and the underlying felony violate double jeopardy protections. See State v. Marshall, 81-3115, 94-461 (La.9/5/95), 660 So.2d819.

State v. Lafleur 12-1383, p. 2 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/5/13), 114 So.3d 666, 668 (footnote omitted). As the Lafleur court noted, the remedy is vacation of the less severely punishable offense. Id.

         In brief, the State acknowledges the violation and agrees with the remedy. Accordingly, the conviction and sentence for armed robbery is vacated.


         In his first assignment of error, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his confession. He alleges that he was questioned after he invoked his right to counsel. An assertion of the right to counsel must be "clear and unequivocal." State v. Payne, 01-3196, p. 13 (La. 12/4/02), 833 So.2d 927, 937.

         This court has explained in a previous case:

In brief, the defendant contends that during the interrogation he stated "unequivocally, T really would like, I mean I think I want a lawyer. Because, I mean this is not right.' "
In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the United States Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment gives a suspect subject to custodial interrogation the right to consult with an attorney during questioning. State v. Payne, 01-3196 (La. 12/4/02), 833 So.2d 927, 934; Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. at 469-473, 86 S.Ct. at 1625-1627. The police are required to explain this right to the suspect before the custodial interrogation, "initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way, " begins. State v. Payne, supra at 934, citing Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 298, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1688, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980), quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S.Ct. at 1619. The safeguards regarding the Miranda right to counsel are triggered by both a custodial setting and official interrogation. State v. Payne, supra at 934.
After a knowing and voluntary waiver of the Miranda rights, law enforcement officers may continue questioning a suspect unless or until he clearly requests an attorney. Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 461, 114 S.Ct. 2350, 2356, 129 L.Ed.2d 362 (1994). Whether the accused actually invoked his right to counsel is an objective inquiry. State v. Payne, 833 So.2d at 935, citing Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. at 458-459, 114 S.Ct. at 2355. In order to invoke his right to counsel, the suspect must articulate his desire to have counsel present with sufficient clarity to enable a reasonable police officer, in the circumstances, to understand his statement to be a request for an attorney. Id. See also, State v. Leger, 05-0011 (La. 7/10/06), 936 So.2d 108, 135. The invocation of the right to counsel during the custodial interrogation "requires, at minimum, some statement that can reasonably be construed to be an expression of a desire for the assistance of an attorney." State v. Payne, 833 So.2d at 935, quoting Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. at 459, 114 S.Ct. at 2355.
Once a suspect has asked to have an attorney present, he is not subject to any further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the suspect initiates further communication, exchanges or conversations with the police. State v. Payne, 833 So.2d at 935, citing Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-485, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 1885, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981). A cessation of questioning is not required, if the suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal, which causes a reasonable police officer, in light of the circumstances, to understand only that the suspect might be invoking the right to counsel. State v. Payne, supra at 935, citing Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. at 458, 114 S.Ct. at 2355. (emphasis in original).
In analyzing whether there has been a direct, clear, unequivocal, and unambiguous request for counsel, courts must give a broad, rather than narrow, interpretation to the suspect's request. State v. Payne, 833 So.2d at 936, citing Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, 106 S.Ct. 1404, 89 L.Ed.2d 631 (1986). The admissibility of a confession or statement is a determination for the trial court and the trial court's ruling will not be overturned unless the preponderance of the evidence clearly favors suppression. State v. Gant, 06-232 (La.App. 5 Cir. 9/26/06), 942 So.2d 1099, 1123.
State v. Allen, 06-778, pp. 4-6 (La.App. 5 Cir. 4/24/07), 955 So.2d 742, 747-48, writ denied, 08-2432 (La. 1/30/09), 999 So.2d 754 (footnote omitted).

State v. Broussard, 16-974, pp. 10-11 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/13/17), 224 So.3d 23, ...

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