United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HORNSBY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Parish jury convicted Shannon Dennis
(“Petitioner”) of second degree murder, and he
was sentenced to life imprisonment. The conviction was
affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Dennis, 72 So.3d
968 (La.App. 2d Cir. 2011), writ denied, 89 So.3d
1189 (La. 2012). Petitioner also pursued a post-conviction
application in state court. He now presents this court with a
petition for habeas corpus relief based on (1) sufficiency of
the evidence, (2) adequacy of the indictment, (3) the right
to present a defense, and (4) ineffective assistance of
counsel. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that
the petition be denied.
Pouncey (Tr. 455-74) testified that some friends gathered
outside her home in the Allendale area of Shreveport on a
Friday night in September 2008. One of those at the gathering
was Tyrone Alexander, who brought the victim, Terry Wilson,
with him. Ms. Pouncey said the two men were standing next to
Alexander's car when they saw a man across the street
wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. Ms. Pouncey heard both men
say the name, “Shannon, ” and Wilson said,
“He's not going to do anything.” Alexander
went inside Ms. Pouncey's house and locked the door
behind him. Ms. Pouncey saw the hooded man approach Wilson
with a rifle, shoot him several times, and walk away. She did
not see the shooter's face that was inside his hood.
Thomas (Tr. 475-501), the victim's 16 year old daughter,
was in a front yard about four houses away when she saw the
man shoot her father. She did not know the name of the
shooter, but she had seen him and another man walk by a few
minutes earlier. She noted, as the two passed by her under a
streetlight, that one man was wearing a black hoodie and had
a cross tattoo in the center of his forehead. Police later
showed her a photo lineup of six persons, at least three of
whom had a cross tattoo on his forehead, and she identified
Petitioner as the man who walked by her house and then shot
was developed as a suspect after his niece, Deanne Dennis,
came to them and reported what she knew. Ms. Dennis (Tr.
505-555) said she had been at her mother's house on the
morning after the shooting. Petitioner (her mother's
brother) had come to visit, and he seemed scared. He gathered
everyone together and asked them that, if anyone asked, to
say that he had been at the house the prior evening before
10:00 p.m. when the news came on.
Dennis testified that Petitioner admitted to her a couple of
days later that he killed Wilson. He said the men had fought
in a club earlier that night, and he later shot him when he
saw him outside the club. Petitioner told Ms. Dennis that
they will never know who did it because it was dark and he
had on a black hoodie. He also said he drove a while and
threw away the gun. He also claimed that a motive for the
shooting was that Wilson had beaten Petitioner's aunt.
Dennis testified that Petitioner originally said he had
thrown away his clothing. But, a few days after the shooting,
Petitioner asked her to wash a pair of his blue jeans in cold
water so “the blood and the gun residue will come
out.” Dennis said she saw what looked to be blood
stains on the pants, and she did wash them. She eventually
reported all of this to the police.
Fuller (Tr. 556-573), a woman who Petitioner had lived with
for several years, said the two had broken up about a month
before the crime. She picked him up, however, when he asked
for a ride a couple of days after the shooting. Petitioner
first had her drive him to Pierre Avenue, about two blocks
from the scene of the murder, where he went into an alley and
returned about 10 minutes later. He then had her drive him to
a wooded area near the KCS train yard and the Cross Lake
area, where she let him out. Fuller drove away for about five
minutes, then returned to pick up Petitioner and return him
to his sister's house.
had Ms. Fuller take them to the wooded area. A search team
located an SKS rifle, partially loaded, in the woods. No.
fingerprints were recovered from the rifle, but Carla White,
a firearms expert with the crime lab, testified that the
casings recovered at the scene of the murder were fired by
the rifle. (Tr. 676-704). Police obtained a warrant for
Petitioner and arrested him at the home of a friend, but only
after a police K-9 had to bite him several times to convince
him to come out of a closet.
did not testify at trial. His sister, Shatyna Dennis (Deanne
Dennis's mother) testified (Tr. 724-762) that Petitioner
came to her house on the evening of the murder between 10:00
and 10:30 p.m. when she was watching the nightly news, spent
the night, and she heard Petitioner leave around 7:00 a.m.
the next morning. She said Deanne had not been there that
evening, and she denied that Petitioner asked her to lie to
provide an alibi.
of the Evidence
argues that the evidence is not sufficient to support the
jury's verdict. In evaluating the sufficiency of evidence
to support a conviction “the relevant question is
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of
fact could have found the essential elements of the crime
beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v.
Virginia, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789 (1979). The
Jackson inquiry “does not focus on whether the
trier of fact made the correct guilt or ...