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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 18, 2018


         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 326, 393 Honorable Ramona L. Emanuel, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          JOHNNY LEE YOUNG, JR. Pro Se.

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          TOMMY J. JOHNSON EDWIN L. BLEWER, III Assistant District Attorneys

          Before BROWN, GARRETT, and STONE, JJ.

          BROWN, C.J.

         Defendant, Johnny Lee Young, Jr., was charged with the forcible rape (La. R.S. 14:43) of K.C. that occurred on September 7, 2014. At arraignment, Young pled not guilty. Several pretrial motions were filed, including a pro se motion to suppress certain text messages and a phone call recording between defendant and K.C. That same day, the trial court granted defendant's oral motion to represent himself with standby counsel. The trial court denied defendant's motion to suppress after a hearing on December 1, 2015.

         After a jury trial, Young was found guilty of the responsive verdict of attempted simple rape (La. R.S. 14:43, 14:27). Defendant was adjudicated a second-felony habitual offender and sentenced to 30 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The trial court additionally ordered defendant to pay court costs, or in lieu of payment, serve 90 days in the parish jail, to run concurrently with any other sentence. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentence, which was denied. On appeal, Young challenges the excessive nature of his sentence. Defendant also filed a pro se brief challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, certain alleged Fourth Amendment violations, and admission at trial of certain text messages sent by defendant to K.C. and a recorded phone conversation between defendant and K.C. We affirm the conviction and sentence.


         At trial, the state called six witnesses. Shreveport Police Officer Darrion Jackson testified that at 6:00 p.m. on September 7, 2014, he was dispatched to an apartment complex located at 2420 Leslie Street in Shreveport, Louisiana, in response to a report of an alleged rape. Upon arriving at the complex, Officer Jackson made contact with the victim, who appeared very distraught, was shaking, and kept fumbling with the tissues in her hand. She attempted to explain to Officer Jackson what happened but couldn't stop crying. Eventually, K.C. disclosed to Officer Jackson that the rape had occurred the previous night, after she attended a party at her upstairs neighbor's apartment. She stated that she consumed alcohol at the party, returned to her own apartment, and went to bed. Between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on September 7, 2014, she was wakened by defendant, who was lying on top of her. K.C. was weak from the alcohol and asked defendant how he got in the apartment. Defendant's response was, "[d]on't worry about it." The victim told Officer Jackson that she yelled for her oldest son, who was in the apartment with her two other children, but Young got off of her and locked her bedroom door. K.C. attempted to stand and leave the room, but defendant grabbed her arm and threw her back onto the bed and proceeded to vaginally rape her. K.C. identified her rapist as Young, a former boyfriend.

         Officer Jackson contacted detectives with the Shreveport Police Department's sex crimes division and brought K.C. to Willis-Knighton Hospital for a rape kit to be collected. Officer Jackson further testified that he collected as evidence K.C.'s underwear, which she was wearing prior to the attack, as well as her robe and white top.[1] The case was then taken over by detectives with the sex crimes division, concluding Officer Jackson's involvement in the matter.[2]

         Michael Jones of the sex crimes division testified that he was the investigating detective in the instant case. He first made contact with K.C. at the hospital while she was being examined. Like Officer Jackson, Detective Jones observed that the victim was crying, lying in the fetal position on the hospital bed, and visibly shaking. K.C. related to Det. Jones what she had previously told Officer Jackson

         A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner ("SANE"), Melanie Hubbard, was called to the hospital to collect and obtain the rape kit, or Personal Evidence Recovery Kit ("PERK"), which consisted of collecting DNA samples and documenting K.C.'s physical condition. Det. Jones testified that Ms. Hubbard gave him the PERK kit, and he delivered the kit to the crime lab for analysis. According to Det. Jones, the crime lab analysis found no DNA in the samples recovered from K.C..

         Det. Jones testified that on September 8, 2014, he took K.C.'s children, a 14-year-old daughter and two younger sons, to be interviewed by a trained forensic interviewer at the Gingerbread House; he monitored the interview through a closed-circuit television system. A videotape of the interview was admitted into evidence.

         In the interview, K.C.'s teenage daughter stated that, on the night in question, her mother returned from the party and went to bed. The teen recalled later hearing a knock at the door, which her 8-year-old brother answered, admitting defendant into the apartment. The daughter stated that she was in her room when defendant entered the apartment, but a few minutes later, defendant knocked on her bedroom door and told her that her mother wanted to borrow her fan. She brought the fan to her mother's bedroom and left. Defendant then shut the bedroom door behind her. About 10 minutes later, her mother came out of her room, crying. The daughter noted that defendant had already left. The teenager identified defendant as the "man who cuts her brothers' hair, " and noted that he used to spend the night. The two sons were also interviewed; however, they were unable to provide additional information.

         K.C. informed Det. Jones that defendant had attempted to contact her by phone, and Det. Jones testified that he advised K.C. to text Young and inform him that she was upset and ask him why he raped her. K.C. communicated with defendant via text message, then provided a copy of the messages to Det. Jones.[3] Det. Jones testified that he also advised K.C. to speak to defendant and record the conversation. K.C. initiated the telephone call, which lasted approximately nine minutes.[4] During the call, defendant offered to pay for K.C.'s counseling and stated, "[K.C.], I'm sorry for raping you." After the call, Det. Jones obtained an arrest warrant and arrested defendant.

         Melanie Hubbard, [5] the nurse who performed the PERK exam on K.C., testified that she examined the victim at 8:00 p.m. on September 7, 2014, approximately 21 hours after the alleged rape occurred. Ms. Hubbard testified that evidence, such as DNA samples, can be lost if the victim is not examined immediately after a rape. Ms. Hubbard stated that K.C. had urinated several times since the incident and was also on her menstrual cycle, which can explain why no DNA was found on the samples taken during the exam. Ms. Hubbard also noted that although no bruising was found on K.C.'s body during the examination, this was not uncommon in rape cases.

         K.C. testified that she was sexually abused as a child and suffered from bipolar disorder. K.C. stated that after graduating from high school, she became a paralegal, but had difficulty holding a job because of her bipolar disorder. During this time, K.C. was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a condition in the nervous system that causes widespread pain. K.C. stated that she began drinking and smoking marijuana, and attempted suicide several times. K.C. testified that she and her three children moved to Shreveport to live with her father, and it was in Shreveport that K.C. was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began receiving treatment. Around this time, K.C. developed a casual sexual relationship with Young, who cut her children's hair. The relationship lasted two years and ended in May of 2014, several months prior to the incident.

         K.C. testified that on the night of September 6, 2014, she attended her neighbor's party and had a couple of alcoholic beverages. During the party, K.C. became tired and returned to her apartment. She put on a black nightgown and took a sleeping pill. K.C. stated that her sons were watching television in her bedroom, and her daughter was in her own room. After she took the pill, K.C. fell asleep with her sons still in her bedroom. K.C. testified that sometime later, she woke up and felt something very heavy on her; it was Young. As K.C. attempted to push Young away, she realized that her youngest son was still in her bedroom because she heard Young instruct the young boy to leave the room. K.C. stated that she instinctively called out for her daughter, but then feared that Young might hurt her daughter too if she attempted to help her, so K.C. lied and stated that she was hot and needed a fan. K.C. heard her daughter bring the fan to K.C.'s bedroom. Young took the fan from her daughter, who went back to her own room, and locked the bedroom door. K.C. tried to get off the bed, but Young pushed her back down and vaginally raped her. K.C. recalled Young leaving shortly afterward, and she passed out until the next morning.

         K.C. testified that the morning after the rape, she woke up to find her underwear on the floor. She put on clean panties and sat at the picnic table in front of her apartment. K.C. stated that she kept calling the police department and hanging up until her neighbor, Sheva, came to check on her at 4:30 p.m. At that time, K.C. told Sheva that Young had raped her. K.C. stated that she also spoke to her other neighbor, Caroline Young, who told K.C. to call the police.

         K.C. testified that Young called her repeatedly after the incident, and after she informed Det. Jones of the calls, he instructed her to text and call Young. K.C. testified that the number she called was the same number she had used to contact Young while they ...

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