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State v. Haydin

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 20, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
JEFFERY M. HAYDIN

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15-182, DIVISION "L" HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Anne M. Wallis Andrew Decoste.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, JEFFERY M. HAYDIN James A. Williams Lynleigh G. Noel Mary Vallon Hicks.

          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg.

          ROBERT A. CHAISSON JUDGE.

         Defendant, Jeffery M. Haydin, appeals his conviction and enhanced sentence for second degree battery. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence; however, we remand the matter for correction of an error patent as noted herein.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 20, 2015, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant with the second degree battery of Katie Haydin, in violation of La. R.S. 14:34.1. Defendant pled not guilty at his arraignment on January 21, 2015. The matter proceeded to trial before a six-person jury on June 21, 2016. The following day, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged.

         On August 4, 2016, the trial court sentenced defendant to five years imprisonment at hard labor. The State filed a multiple offender bill of information, [1] alleging defendant to be a second felony offender, to which defendant stipulated on September 1, 2016. On the same date, the trial court resentenced defendant as a second felony offender, pursuant to La. R.S. 15:529.1, to ten years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. Defendant now appeals.[2]

         FACTS

         On November 21, 2014, defendant and his wife, Brandy Haydin, traveled from Mississippi to Metairie, Louisiana, to attend his mother's funeral. While at his deceased mother's home in Metairie, he noticed that certain items had been taken from her house. Nicole Jolly, a family friend who lived nearby, informed Brandy that she had observed Katie Haydin, defendant's sister-in-law, at defendant's mother's house removing boxes of items. Defendant called Scott Haydin, his brother and Katie's husband, to inquire as to the whereabouts of the missing items and was informed that Scott and his family were celebrating his daughter's birthday at Chuck E. Cheese and did not intend on discussing the subject at that time. Defendant then drove his family to the birthday party where an altercation ensued between defendant and Katie after defendant again attempted to broach the subject regarding his mother's missing belongings.

         Deputy Ryan Ancar of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Chuck E. Cheese on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie, where he encountered defendant, who had called the police to report that he had been punched in the face by his sister-in-law Katie. However, according to Katie and her husband Scott, when defendant angrily confronted Scott about his mother's belongings, Katie attempted to intervene at which time defendant berated her and then "chest bumped" her, prompting her to slap him in the face. When Deputy Ancar advised defendant that Katie would not be arrested, but rather issued a misdemeanor citation for simple battery, he became upset, indicating his desire to have Katie taken to jail. Defendant then left the scene, refusing to provide a statement, and thus, a citation was never issued. Katie and Scott, who also did not live in the area, were advised to stay somewhere other than Denis Haydin's house, [3] if possible, since they suspected that defendant might go there.

         Approximately one hour later, Deputy Ancar responded to a call of a reported battery at Denis's residence on Canterbury Lane. Upon arrival, Deputy Ancar again encountered Katie and Scott, who explained that when they arrived at Denis's house, defendant was standing outside of his truck yelling and "bouncing around" while on his phone. After informing the person on the phone that he was going "to beat this bitch up, " defendant walked straight up to Katie, knocked a box out of Katie's hands, and started hitting her and Scott before attempting to flee in his truck, which was being driven by defendant's wife. Katie testified that she remembered being hit twice by defendant, the first time did not cause her injury, but the second time defendant punched her in the middle of her face with such force that she fell to the ground. Katie described that blood "gushed" from her nose and mouth and that she could not see or breathe.

         Scott tried to stop defendant from leaving the scene by standing in front of defendant's truck, as defendant instructed his wife to run him over. When Scott would not move, defendant got out of his truck with a broken glass bottle in hand and started to chase Scott. Defendant eventually returned to his truck and left the scene.

         Deputy Ancar noted that Katie was sitting in the driveway in a pool of her own blood and that Scott had "some visible marks on his face." Katie was subsequently transported to the hospital for treatment of her injuries. Dr. Ramiz Khalaf, who treated Katie at the hospital, testified that Katie sustained a broken nose and had considerable swelling to her eye.

         At trial, defendant presented a different version of events. According to Ms. Jolly, who was with defendant and his wife at the time of the incident, Katie and Scott arrived at Denis's house and began yelling at defendant and his wife. Katie then approached defendant and threw a box at him, which defendant knocked away. She further testified that Katie punched defendant in the face and spit on him, prompting defendant to "slap" Katie. She recalled that defendant and Scott then began fighting with one another. Ms. Jolly further claimed that Scott's son brought his father a drinking glass which he used to hit defendant. Defendant's wife Brandy testified in accordance with Ms. Jolly's account of the incident.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE (Sufficiency of the Evidence)

         In his first assigned error, defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence used to convict him of second degree battery. First, he contends that the State failed to prove that Katie suffered "serious bodily injury, " and secondly, that the evidence presented at trial proved he acted in self-defense when he slapped Katie.

         In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court must determine if the evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, or a mixture of both, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, was sufficient to convince a rational trier of fact that all of the elements of the crime have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Howard, 15-473 (La.App. 5 Cir. 12/9/15), 182 So.3d 360, 363. Under the Jackson standard, a review of the record for sufficiency of the evidence does not require the court to ask whether it believes that the evidence at the trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, a reviewing court is required to consider the whole record and determine whether any rational trier of fact would have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Jones, 08-20 (La.App. 5 Cir. 4/15/08), 985 So.2d 234, 240.

         In the present case, defendant was convicted of second degree battery. La. R.S. 14:34.1(A) provides, in pertinent part: "Second degree battery is a battery when the offender intentionally inflicts serious bodily injury."[4] La. R.S. 14:34.1(B)(3) defines "serious bodily injury" as "bodily injury which involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death."

         In the present case, defendant does not contest that a battery occurred. However, he contends that his actions constituted simple battery, rather than second degree battery, because the State failed to prove Katie suffered "serious bodily injury." Defendant specifically claims that a broken nose that did not require surgery does not reach the threshold of "serious bodily injury" necessitated by the statute's definition.

         In State v. Mullins, 537 So.2d 386 (La.App. 4th Cir. 1988), the victim, who stood at five feet five inches, and the defendant, who was six feet tall, were driving home when an argument ensued. The victim and the defendant slapped each other, causing the victim to stop the car and get out. The defendant then followed her, grabbed her by the shirt, and punched her in the nose, breaking it. Afterwards, the two drove home, and once the defendant fell asleep, the victim went to her mother's home and then to an area hospital for medical treatment of her broken nose. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit found that the evidence presented was sufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction for second degree battery. In finding that the defendant possessed the requisite specific intent to inflict serious bodily injury, the appellate court noted, "when a larger man punches a smaller woman in her nose with enough force to break it, that bodily injury involves extreme physical pain." Id. at 392.

         In State v. Accardo, 466 So.2d 549 (La.App. 5th Cir. 1985), writ denied, 468 So.2d 1204 (La. 1985), the twenty-one-year-old male defendant struck the seventeen-year-old female victim in the head with either his fist or a blackjack after she refused his sexual advances. Regarding her injuries, the victim testified at trial that she was "stunned" and her head was swollen. On appeal, this Court found the evidence sufficient to establish that the defendant inflicted "serious bodily injury" on the victim even though "nowhere in her testimony did the victim speak of losing consciousness, extreme pain (or any pain), disfigurement, or impairment of a body function or part." In affirming the defendant's conviction, this Court noted that the victim did testify to receiving a blow to the head with either the defendant's fist or a blackjack; that the injury suffered by the victim did cause pain and swelling to her head; and that when a twenty-one-year-old man strikes a seventeen-year-old girl on the head with either his fist or a blackjack, there is a substantial risk of death, serious injury, or possible disfigurement. Id. at 552-53. See also State v. Stowe, 93-2020 (La. 4/11/94), 635 So.2d 168 (where the Louisiana Supreme Court found that, reviewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the State proved the defendant had intentionally inflicted extreme physical pain on the officer without his consent).

         Likewise, in this case, we find that the evidence was sufficient to establish all the elements of the offense of second degree battery, including that of "serious bodily injury" being challenged by defendant. At trial, the State presented evidence that after an altercation at Chuck E. Cheese, defendant and Brandy drove to Denis's house where Katie and Scott were staying. Upon Katie and Scott's arrival, they observed defendant standing outside of his truck yelling and "bouncing around" while on his phone. After informing the person on the phone that he was going "to beat this bitch up, " defendant, who is larger than Katie, rushed towards her, knocked a box out of her hands, and started hitting her and Scott before attempting to flee in his truck. Katie testified that defendant punched her with a closed fist in the middle of her face with such force that she fell to the ground. Katie described that she could not see or breath as blood "gushed" from her nose and mouth. When the police arrived, Katie reported her pain as a ten on a scale from one to ten. Katie was then transported to the hospital and treated by Dr. Khalaf for complaints regarding pain and swelling to her nose and eye. At the hospital, Katie reported her pain as a five on a scale of one to ten. After several tests, it was determined that Katie had sustained a broken nose and considerable swelling to her eye, for which Dr. Khalaf prescribed her pain medication.

         In the present case, while the evidence did not show that Katie's injury involved unconsciousness, disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death, the evidence did establish that Katie's injury caused her extreme physical pain.[5] Moreover, as noted by the Fourth Circuit in State v. Mullins, supra, "when a larger man punches a smaller woman in her nose with enough force to break it, that bodily injury involves extreme physical pain." Accordingly, viewing the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the prosecution, we conclude that a rational trier of fact could have determined that the elements of the crime of second degree battery were proven beyond a reasonable doubt; thus, defendant is not entitled to a reduction of his conviction to the lesser offense of simple battery.[6]

         In his appellate brief, defendant also contends that he presented sufficient evidence at trial to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was acting in self-defense when he struck Katie.

         The fact that an offender's conduct is justifiable, although otherwise criminal, constitutes a defense to prosecution for any crime based on that conduct. La. R.S. 14:18; State v. Patterson, 10-415 (La.App. 5 Cir. 1/11/11), 63 So.3d 140, 148, writ denied, 11-338 (La. 6/17/11), 63 So.3d 1037. The use of force or violence upon the person of another is justifiable when committed for the purpose of preventing a forcible offense against the person or a forcible offense or trespass against property in a person's lawful possession, provided that the force or violence used must be reasonable and apparently necessary to prevent such offense. La. R.S. 14:19(A); State v. Steele, 01-1414 (La.App. 5 Cir. 9/30/02), 829 So.2d 541, 547, writ denied, 02-2992 (La. 9/19/03), 853 So.2d 632. The aggressor or the person who brings on a difficulty cannot claim the right of self-defense unless he withdraws from the conflict in good faith and in such a manner that his adversary knows or should know that he desires to withdraw and discontinue the conflict. La. R.S. 14:21; State v. Howard, 182 So.3d at 363.

         In a non-homicide case, the defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that his actions were in self-defense or in defense of others. The defense of self-defense in a non-homicide situation requires a dual inquiry: an objective inquiry into whether the force used was reasonable under the circumstances and a subjective inquiry into whether the force was apparently necessary. State v. Nailor, 10-1062 (La.App. 5 Cir. 11/15/11), 78 So.3d 816, 821-22, writ denied, 11-2780 (La. 4/27/12), 86 So.3d 626.

         In the present case, the jury was presented with conflicting testimony regarding the altercation at Denis's house. The State presented testimony that upon Katie and Scott's arrival at Denis's house, they observed defendant standing outside of his truck yelling and "bouncing around" while on his phone. After informing the person on the phone that he was going "to beat this bitch up, " defendant, unprovoked, rushed towards her, ...


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