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State v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 10, 2018


         Appealed from the Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bienville, Louisiana Trial Court No. 47-470 Honorable C. Glenn Fallin, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          DANIEL W. NEWELL District Attorney Counsel for Appellee


          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and COX, JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         Defendant Donea L. Jackson was convicted of attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced him to 40 years' imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence as amended.


         On February 3, 2015, the state charged Defendant with attempted first degree murder, alleging that on or about December 8, 2014, he attempted to commit first degree murder upon Airrik Walker. At arraignment, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty. On February 10, 2017, the state filed an amended bill of information that specified that Defendant attempted to kill Walker while having the specific intent to kill and being engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of armed robbery.

         On December 27, 2016, the state filed a motion in limine. It sought to introduce statements made by Defendant to law enforcement, hospital staff, paramedics and first responders in which he expressed that he shot Walker, apologized for the shooting and stated that the shooting involved a concern over money. The state provided notice to the defense that it intended to use other crimes evidence at trial. It alleged that Defendant made plans to commit a robbery on a different target on the night before the present alleged offense. It explained that this robbery was discussed with Brandon Malone and April Walker ("April")[1] and that the gun used to shoot Walker was brought for the purposes of the robbery discussed on December 7, 2014.

         On January 17, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to suppress statements by Melissa Gillum, a physician's assistant who assessed Defendant's injuries when he was taken to the hospital. He claimed the heath care provider- patient privilege set forth in La. C.E. art. 510(C)(1).

         On February 2, 2017, a hearing was held on the state's motion in limine, during which it introduced video recordings of police interviews with Malone and April concerning the events of December 7, 2014. In an October 7, 2015 interview, Malone stated that on the evening of December 7, 2014, Defendant obtained a gun from April and planned to rob someone called "C-Rock." Malone explained that Defendant needed money to leave town. He stated that on December 8, 2014, Defendant told him that he was going to go with Walker to sell drugs. He later received a call from Defendant that he had been injured in a car accident. In a September 28, 2015 interview, April stated that Defendant asked her for her gun so that he could rob someone called "Termite." She stated that Defendant agreed to give her $2, 000 obtained from robbing Termite in exchange for using her gun. She noted that she did not hear Defendant or Malone mention Walker's name as a possible target. The trial court granted the state's motion, finding that any prejudice Defendant would suffer from the admission of the other crimes evidence was outweighed by its probative value.

         A hearing on Defendant's motion to suppress was held on February 8, 2017. The trial court found that the statements Defendant made while in the emergency room to physician's assistant Melissa Gillum and nurse Shawna Chellette were not privileged. It explained that the statements were not confidential because Defendant was volunteering information and made the same statements to several other individuals after the accident.

         Trial began on February 21, 2017. Eva Peoples, a volunteer firefighter, testified that on the morning of December 8, 2014, she received a first-responder call to a one-vehicle accident. Upon arriving at the scene, she observed an overturned vehicle and Defendant lying on the ground. He told her he was in severe pain in his lower body. She informed him that help was on the way and noticed a cell phone lying on his chest. Defendant indicated that someone was on the phone, but she received no response when she spoke into the phone. She later gave Defendant's phone to a law enforcement officer. Peoples noted that other first responders attended to another individual at the scene and that when the paramedics arrived, they told her that the other person had a gunshot wound. Peoples stated that before she left the scene, she spoke to Defendant again and asked him who shot the other person. She testified that Defendant admitted to shooting him and then apologized and asked for forgiveness from God.

         First responder Eileen Murphy Daniels testified that when she arrived at the scene, she assessed a man with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. She noted that she initially thought he was dead, but after assessing him, knew he was still alive.

         First responder Sharon Usrey testified that when she arrived at the scene, she attended to a man who had pain from the waist down. She noted that he was conscious and that he repeatedly stated, "I'm so sorry, " "I made a mistake, " "I really messed up" and "I didn't mean to shoot him."

         First responder Lyndell Usrey testified that when he arrived at the scene, he attended to a man who had leg and hip injuries. He identified this man to be Defendant. He noted that Defendant was conscious and made statements including, "I've messed up, " "Made a mistake, " "I shouldn't have done it" and "I don't know why I did it."

         Deputy Chase Walsworth of the Ringgold Police Department testified that he was a first responder and assisted in rendering aid to two patients. He first encountered Walker, who was in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and temple. He then aided Defendant, who complained of pain to his legs and back. Dep. Walsworth testified that Defendant stated, "I didn't meant to shoot him" and "I'm sorry, I messed up."

         First responder Rita Plunkett testified that when she arrived at the scene, she observed Defendant lying on the ground. He told her he had pain in his legs and back and asked her to speak on the phone to his brother. She explained that she picked up his phone and told the person on the phone that help would be there shortly. She noted that Defendant stated, "Murph, I'm sorry" and "I'm sorry, man."

         Deputy Dudley Poda of the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office testified that he was dispatched to the scene of a single-vehicle rollover accident. He stated that first responders did not find any identification on Defendant, but Defendant provided his name and date of birth. When Dep. Poda asked Defendant what happened, he replied, "I fucked up and shot him." Defendant told Dep. Poda that the gun was still in the vehicle. Dep. Poda searched for a gun for safety purposes, but did not locate one.

         Paramedic Jason Rice testified that he was dispatched to the scene and attended to Defendant, who was complaining of hip and leg pain.[2] He asked Defendant questions to determine whether he was lucid and concluded that he was alert and oriented to what was going on. When Rice asked what had happened, Defendant stated that he attempted to jump into the driver's seat when the crash occurred. Rice rode in the ambulance with Defendant, who told him that "he should have just asked him for the money, he probably would've given it to him." Rice noted that Defendant's father arrived at the scene before Defendant was transported by ambulance, and Defendant told him, "I'm sorry, Dad, I messed up."

         Deputy James Stewart of the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office testified that he responded to the scene at approximately 10:00 a.m. and recorded the scene with his body camera while he searched the area. A recording of the footage taken from Dep. Stewart's body camera was admitted into evidence and published to the jury. In the footage, Defendant can be heard saying "I'm sorry" and "I fucked up." Dep. Stewart stated that a .38 caliber revolver was found inside the vehicle.

         Aaron Johnson, an emergency medical technician for the Jackson Parish Ambulance Service, testified that he responded to the scene and provided aid to Walker and Defendant. He noted that Walker had been ejected from the vehicle, his foot was pinned under it and he had gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

         First responder Amy Walsworth testified that she attended to Walker, who had been shot in the head and chest and appeared to be in shock. She noted that he screamed, "Why'd you shoot me?" to Defendant, and Defendant replied, "I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry." She stated that Walker then said, "I had the money, I would've gave it to you."

         Malone testified that he has known Defendant and his family for his whole life. He stated that on the night of December 7, 2014, he received a text message from Defendant stating that April was going to bring Defendant a gun. He responded that he was coming to Defendant's house, and when he arrived, he asked Defendant why he needed a gun. Defendant responded that he would use the gun to rob someone called "C-Rock" or possibly Walker. He attempted to dissuade Defendant from robbing Walker by telling him that Walker had no money. He stated that April arrived at Defendant's house later that evening and that he tried to calm Defendant down by taking him for a drive. He dropped Defendant off at home and then returned to his house. Malone testified that the following morning, he went to his mother's house, which is located next door to Defendant's house, and met Defendant. He then drove Defendant to his house and cooked breakfast for him. Walker arrived a few minutes later, and he purchased $20 worth of marijuana from him. Defendant and Walker then left in Walker's vehicle, purportedly to sell drugs in Saline, Louisiana. He stated that later that morning, he received a call from Defendant, stating that he had been injured in a car accident. During the conversation, Defendant mentioned a white man picking up drugs. On cross-examination, he stated that Walker always claimed to have money, but he did not know if Walker carried a gun. He also recanted some of his earlier testimony, stating that Defendant did not specifically say he was going to rob Walker.

         April, Defendant's former girlfriend, testified that in December 2014, she was employed by Securitas as a security guard. She explained that she was required to carry a weapon when working at Grambling University and that her employer issued her a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver. She stated that on December 7, 2014, Defendant texted her and asked if he could use her gun to rob someone. Defendant agreed to give her some money if he accomplished the robbery. She went to Defendant's house and Defendant, Malone and two other people were present. She gave her gun to Defendant, and he left the house with the gun. Defendant later returned home after unsuccessfully attempting to rob someone called "Termite." April testified that she then went home and went to bed. The next morning, December 8, 2014, April received a text from Defendant, in which he indicated that he was about to rob someone. She stated that later that day, a friend called her and informed her that Defendant had shot someone called "Murph." She was afraid the gun would be traced back to her, and she called the police and her employer and told them that Defendant stole the gun. She testified that she visited Defendant in jail after his arrest. During their conversation, he told her that he shot Walker because of drugs and money and that after the vehicle crashed, he called Malone to collect the drugs and money from the accident scene. She identified State's Exhibit No. 6 as the Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver she gave to Defendant. The serial number from the revolver entered into evidence matched the serial number of the revolver issued to April by her employer.

         Donna Norman testified that in December 2014, she was the branch manager for Securitas in Monroe, Louisiana, and was responsible for issuing weapons to Securitas employees. She identified State's Exhibit No. 6 as the weapon she issued to April.

         Sergeant Darrell Mills of the Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office testified that he was dispatched to the accident scene. He took photographs as part of his investigation and identified several of the photographs during his testimony. In photographs of the driver's side of the vehicle, he noted that what appeared to be blood had soaked into the driver's seat and the arm rest and had spattered on the steering wheel, door panel and ceiling. A shirt found at the scene was soaked in blood and had matching holes on the front and back. He testified that during his examination of the scene, he discovered glass on the road several hundred feet from where the vehicle crashed. He also collected similar looking glass from inside the vehicle that came from a shattered window. A Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver was found on the floorboard of the vehicle. When he opened the revolver's cylinder, he observed two spent casings and four live rounds. He stated that he did not observe anything that would have caused the vehicle to crash other than the shooting.

         Sergeant Chris Davis testified that he was responsible for collecting the evidence referenced by Sgt. Mills. He added that the bloody shirt collected from the scene belonged to Walker and that the holes in the shirt had burn marks. He testified that after leaving the scene, he made contact with Defendant at the hospital and advised him of his Miranda rights. He noted that Defendant did not want to speak to him at that time because he was in too much pain.

         Sgt. Davis further testified that he obtained a warrant for Defendant's arrest; and, on December 18, 2014, Defendant's family brought him to the courthouse to be arrested. He advised Defendant of his Miranda rights and then interviewed him. A recording of the interview was admitted into evidence and played for the jury. In the interview, Defendant stated that Walker had loaned him several hundred dollars three weeks before the shooting. On the morning of the shooting, Walker picked him up in his vehicle and repeatedly asked him when he would repay him. Defendant stated that he knew Walker had a gun and that Walker appeared to reach for a gun. He responded by pulling his own gun and shooting Walker in the arm and then in the head. Defendant stated that he then tried to get into the driver's seat, but he lost control of the vehicle and it crashed. He admitted he never actually saw the gun that he thought Walker had.

         Sgt. Davis further testified that he obtained a warrant to search Defendant's cell phone, which revealed a series of text messages with April and Malone sent on the night of December 7, 2014, conspiring to commit a robbery in Jackson Parish. In the text message conversation, Defendant informed Malone that April was to receive $2, 000 from the robbery proceeds for providing a gun. On the morning of December 8, 2014, Defendant sent a text message to April, informing her that he was "back on it." That same morning, Defendant sent a text message to Malone informing him of his and Walker's location.

         Sgt. Davis also testified that he interviewed Malone and April, and both admitted to being in contact with Defendant the morning of the shooting. He stated that no other gun was found at the crash scene, despite Defendant's claim that he shot Walker in self-defense. He admitted that after investigators found the .38 caliber revolver at the scene, no efforts were made that day to search for another gun. It was not until Defendant asserted that he ...

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