APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 14-2802, DIVISION
"H" HONORABLE GLENN B. ANSARDI, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux, Anne M. Wallis, Molly
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, KEVIN DEUBLER Mary Constance
Hanes DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, KEVIN DEUBLER In Proper Person.
composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg
Wicker, and Robert A. Chaisson
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, JUDGE
appeals his conviction for cruelty to the infirmed in
violation of La. R.S. 14:93.3, and his enhanced twenty-year
sentence as a multiple offender under La. R.S. 15:529.1. For
the following reasons, we affirm defendant's conviction
and his sentence, as amended, to remove the restriction on
OF THE CASE
3, 2014, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill
of information charging defendant, Kevin Deubler, with
cruelty to the infirmed in violation of La. R.S.
14:93.3. On July 8, 2014, defendant was arraigned
and entered a plea of not guilty. On September 2, 2015, the
State filed a Motion to Perpetuate Victim/Witness for
Preservation of Testimony for Trial. The trial court
considered the State's motion and held a preliminary
examination on December 17, 2015, at which the alleged victim
and an investigating officer testified.Defendant waived
his right to a jury trial and, on November 28, 2016, the
trial judge found defendant guilty as charged.
January 3, 2017, defendant filed a Motion for New Trial,
which the trial judge denied. On March 7, 2017, after
defendant waived sentencing delays, the trial judge sentenced
defendant to seven years at hard labor without any
restrictions. The State filed a multiple offender bill
against defendant and, on April 4, 2017, the trial judge
found defendant to be a third felony offender pursuant to La.
R.S. 15:529.1. The trial court vacated defendant's
original sentence and sentenced defendant to twenty years in
the Department of Corrections without benefit of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence. This timely appeal follows.
Eric Meyers with the Harahan Police Department
testified that, on May 21, 2014, he was on duty at the
Harahan police station when Ms. Deubler walked in to report
an incident involving her son. Ms. Deubler provided two
recorded statements to Officer Meyers. In her statements, Ms.
Deubler provided that on the morning of May 21, 2014, her
son, defendant, came home from the store after he had
consumed alcoholic beverages and "started roughing [her]
up." Ms. Deubler reported that defendant hit her with a
little baseball bat and that she tried to get away from him,
but he kept following her around the house. She also reported
that defendant grabbed her shirt, tore the buttons off, and
tried to choke her with her shirt collar, to the point that
she was briefly unable to breathe. She also reported that he
showed her a "nice little knife" and its blade,
which he threatened to use on her that night.
Meyers recalled that at the time Ms. Deubler came in to the
police station, she seemed frightened and feared for her
safety. He further recalled that Ms. Deubler was
"covered" in bruises, some of which appeared older
and in the process of healing while others appeared fresh.
Officer Meyers recalled that the bruises were consistent with
Ms. Deubler's account of the events. Investigating
officers took photographs of Ms. Deubler's injuries,
which were introduced into evidence and reflect bruising and
injuries consistent with Ms. Deubler's statements to
Officer Meyers. After Ms. Deubler provided her statements,
Officer Meyers obtained her permission to enter her home to
Officer Meyers and Jefferson Parish deputies arrived to the
house, they attempted to enter by unlocking the front door
but felt resistance. Eventually, the officers discovered that
defendant had duct taped the door's locking mechanism
from the inside. Once they realized this, they applied
force to the duct tape to gain entrance to the house and
arrested defendant. Defendant did not make any statements at
the time of his arrest.
Deist, a paramedic with the East Jefferson "EMS, "
was called on May 21, 2014, to assess Ms. Deubler's
physical condition at the Harahan Police Department. Ms.
Deist testified that Ms. Deubler refused medical treatment
and refused to be transported to the hospital. Ms. Deist
created a "run report" of her assessment, wherein
she documented Ms. Deubler's sustained injuries.
Butler testified at trial that she is Ms. Deubler's
daughter and defendant's sister. Ms. Butler testified
that her mother is eighty-six years old and suffers from
dementia. She explained that Ms. Deubler was diagnosed with
dementia approximately one year after the incident involving
defendant and that, although she takes prescription
medication, the condition continued to worsen.
Butler confirmed that, in 2014, defendant resided with their
mother in Harahan. She received a phone call from her uncle
on the morning of May 22, 2014, which caused her to bring her
mother to Ochsner emergency room that morning. She further
testified that the photographs introduced into evidence
accurately depicted the visible bruising to Ms. Deubler's
body and that she had never seen any similar bruising on her
mother's body prior to May 22, 2014. At trial, Ms. Butler
identified a letter dated July 31, 2014, written in
defendant's handwriting, which was mailed to Ms. Deubler
at her home address. The letter, introduced into evidence at
trial, contains apologies and asks for Ms. Deubler's
forgiveness, stating that she was never the "intended
target of [his] angers."
Deubler testified at trial that she was eighty-six years old,
her date of birth was December 20, 1929, and she had three
children, Al Deubler, Christine Butler, and defendant. When
asked about her memory, she said it was "shot, "
and it was "not there" for her. She stated clearly
that her memory had "gotten worse" and that she
could not make sense of many of the questions asked. Ms.
Deubler stated she could not recall exactly why she was in
court but that she knew she was there because of something to
do with her son, defendant. When shown the photographs
introduced into evidence of her injuries, Ms. Deubler
identified the photographs of herself. She testified that,
although she does bruise easily, the photographs were taken
when she was "getting beat up." When asked who
"beat her up, " she replied her son, defendant,
beat her up. She could not remember where she was when she
sustained her injuries, but she "guess[ed]" it was
at home. She recalled that she went to the police after she
was beaten but could not remember what she told them.
Deubler admitted that she could not recall her prior
testimony or what she told doctors at Ochsner emergency room,
but indicated that she most likely told the truth to her
treating doctors because she does not lie
often. When she listened to her recorded
statements to Officer Meyers, she testified that she did not
recall giving the statements but responded that she "of
course" would have provided the truth to investigating
police officers. Ms. Deubler, in her testimony, could not
recall how she got her injuries, including whether defendant
threatened her with a knife or a bat. However, when asked
directly who caused her injuries, she consistently responded
that her son, defendant, caused the injuries.
Sullivan, Ms. Deubler's next door neighbor, testified at
trial that defendant resided next door with Ms. Deubler
"off and on" from late 2012 through May 2014. She
testified that she overheard defendant screaming obscenities
at Ms. Deubler "almost nightly" from her backyard.
Ms. Sullivan testified that, on one Saturday night in April
2014, she stepped outside of her home to record the screaming
because it was so loud. The State introduced into evidence
two video and audio recordings, during which one can hear a
male screaming loudly and calling someone a
"bitch." Ms. Sullivan testified that for a period
of time between January 2014 and May 2014, she and other
neighbors discussed the screaming coming from Ms.
Deubler's residence almost nightly.
pro se assignments of error as well as his first
counseled assignment of error, defendant challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence presented against him at
trial. First, defendant claims there is no
evidence to prove that his mother was competent at the time
she reported the incident, pointing to Ms. Deubler's
inconsistent testimony and lack of memory concerning the
alleged offense. Second, defendant argues that the State
failed to prove that Ms. Deubler sustained the statutorily
required injuries, contending that the "simple
bruising" Ms. Deubler sustained does not reach the level
of "unjustifiable pain or suffering" required under
La. R.S. 14:93.3.
standard of review for the sufficiency of the evidence to
uphold a conviction is whether, viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier
of fact could conclude that the State proved the essential
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v.
Bone, 12-34 (La.App. 5 Cir. 09/11/12), 107 So.3d 49, 58,
writ denied, 12-2229 (4/1/13), 110 So.3d 574,
citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct.
2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. King, 06-554
(La.App. 5 Cir. 1/16/07), 951 So.2d 384, 390, writ
denied, 07-0371 (La. 5/4/07), 956 So.2d 600.
appellate court's primary function is not to redetermine
the defendant's guilt or innocence in accordance with its
appreciation of the facts and credibility of the witnesses.
Rather, our function is to review the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution and determine whether there
is sufficient evidence to support the jury's conclusion.
State v. Banford, 94-883 (La.App. 5 Cir. 3/15/95),
653 So.2d 671, 677. Evidence may be direct or circumstantial.
Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of collateral facts
and circumstances from which the existence of the main fact
can be inferred according to reason and common experience.