from the Thirty-Seventh Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caldwell, Louisiana Trial Court No. 91142 Honorable
Don C. Burns, Judge.
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward K. Bauman, Counsel for
E. FRAZIER District Attorney, CHARLES L. COOK Assistant
District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee.
WILLIAMS, GARRETT, and BLEICH (Ad Hoc), JJ.
defendant, Calvin Rashad Wooten, was charged by bill of
information with armed robbery, in violation of La. R.S.
14:64. Following a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty
of the responsive verdict of attempted armed robbery. He was
sentenced to serve 15 years in prison at hard labor without
the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
September 14, 2014, at approximately 2:30 p.m., a young black
male entered the home of Tommie Cockerham, an elderly woman,
and demanded money. The intruder was wearing a knit cap and
his face was covered with a red bandana, exposing only his
eyes. During the defendant's trial, Ms. Cockerham
testified that she was sitting in her recliner, quilting,
when her front door "was jerked open by a young black
man, " who was brandishing a shotgun and wearing dark
clothes, a hat and a bandana. Ms. Cockerham stated:
*** He came straight to me, hollering, I want your money. And
he got to me and he put the gun right on my forehead, and he
kept screaming that at me and I told him I didn't have
but four dollars [$4.00], and he was welcome to it. But he
didn't accept it. And so he said, what else you got in
here? And I said, I don't have anything else. And he
said, where's your car keys? And I pointed to my door. I
have, just had a nail, had 'em hanging on it. And I
pointed to 'em, and he backed over there and got my car
keys. Put 'em in his pocket and then he stood by my chair
and he put that gun on my chest. And he started to uh, look
toward my dining room and my kitchen area and uh, I watched
him until I saw him turn his head long enough that he was you
know, that I could - I had already seen my phone was right
there by me. He hadn't seen it. And I started to dial
nine-one-one [9-1-1] and when he heard, heard it, well he
came back and that's when he grabbed my right hand and
uh, that had the phone in it, and he pulled me out of my
recliner chair. It was in recline position. He pulled me up
out of it, and I heard the bones in my arm and that's the
last of that I remember.
Cockerham testified that she lost consciousness after being
pulled out of her recliner. She stated that when she awoke,
she noticed that her arm was "broke[n] so bad that it
was just hanging." She also stated that, after a
struggle, she managed to get up and she eventually reached
the telephone to call for help.
describing the intruder, Ms. Cockerham stated, "All I
could see was the barrel of that gun and, and his eyes."
During Ms. Cockerham's testimony, the prosecutor held up
a red bandana and asked Ms. Cockerham if she recognized it.
She replied, "He had a red bandana on his head, on his
mouth." The prosecutor asked, "Does this look
similar to the bandana wor[n] by the person that broke in[to]
your home, and did those horrific acts that you previously
described to the jury?" Ms. Cockerham replied,
"Yes, sir." However, Ms. Cockerham did not identify
the defendant as the intruder during her direct examination.
cross-examination, Ms. Cockerham testified that she had lived
at her residence for at least 17 years and that the defendant
and his brother had lived down the street from her since they
were "young boys." She stated that she had never
had a problem with either of the Wooten brothers. Counsel for
the defendant then questioned whether Ms. Cockerham had
identified the defendant as the intruder to law enforcement.
In response, Ms. Cockerham testified that she believed the
defendant was the intruder. The colloquy was as follows:
Q. Is it true that, that you were unable to identify Calvin
Wooten or his brother as the individual that attacked you?
A. I could tell his, by his eyes. He has eyes like his daddy
and his grandma.
Q. So, so you're saying now that you know it was Calvin
A. I don't, I did not know but it, when I thought of
that, those eyes, well that was, that was all I needed.
Q. Do you recall talking to [Detective] Tony Childress after
A. I remember him being there, yes.
Q. Do you recall the conversation that you had?
A. I don't.
Q. Do you recall telling Detective Childress that you
didn't think it was the Wooten Boys?
A. I don't remember, remember telling him that.
Q. Is it possible that you did tell him that?
A. Not that I know of. I did tell my sister I hoped to God it
wasn't Calvin's boy.
Q. Do you recall at any time telling Detective Childress that
the - your attacker was too short to be one of the [Wooten]
A. I might [have] said that but it's because he was bent
over with a gun on me.
Q. And up until today, you, you've never positively
identified Calvin Wooten as the suspect, have you?
A. I know it was him.
Q. You know it was him? How do you know it was him?
A. His eyes.
counsel further questioned Ms. Cockerham with regard to
whether she identified the defendant as the intruder to Det.
Childress when he visited her home the second time. The
following exchange took place:
Q. Do you remember talking to [Det.] Childress then?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Okay, and at that point, during the conversation, you
didn't identify Calvin Wooten, did you?
A. I told you what I told you.
Q. Okay, but you never identified him as a suspect.
A. I never identified him but I knew that's who it was.
Q. But you never told Detective Childress that's who you
thought it was.
A. Yes, I did.
Ms. Cockerham admitted that she did not identify the
defendant as the intruder from a photographic lineup
presented by Det. Childress. She explained that the
photographs were "too grainy" to "tell a whole
lot about 'em." Defense counsel presented Ms.
Cockerham with closeup photographs of the eyes of the persons
depicted in the photographic lineup and asked her if she
recalled looking at the pictures. She responded that she did
not view photographs of only eyes; she saw pictures of
"full faces" of the individuals.
Ms. Cockerham testified that she could not conclusively
identify the jeans and shirt that had been shown to her by
the police officers as the clothing worn by the intruder. She
stated that she only knew that the clothing was dark, like
the clothing the intruder had worn. She also stated that the
police officers had shown her a red bandana that "looked
like" the same red bandana worn by the intruder.
Pearson, a Deputy State Fire Marshall, was working as the
Assistant Chief of Police for the Town of Columbia on the day
of the incident. Deputy Pearson testified as follows: he
received a call from dispatch about a possible home invasion
or armed robbery by a black male; he proceeded to Ms.
Cockerham's house; upon arrival, he met up with Deputy
Keith Wilkins, Deputy John Cummings and his K-9, who were
canvassing the area looking for suspects matching the
description of the intruder; while canvassing the area, he
and Deputy Wilkins approached the Wooten home, which was
located approximately 200-300 yards from Ms. Cockerham's
home; as he approached the home, he saw the defendant, Calvin
Rashad Wooten, looking out of a window; shortly thereafter,
the defendant and his brother, Denzel Wooten,  exited the house
and met the deputies on the front porch; he and Deputy
Wilkins decided to detain the Wooten brothers because they
matched the description of the intruder: "young, black
male, " and he wanted to detain them until the detective
in charge, Tony Childress, arrived to question them; he
decided that "safety" required him to secure the
Wooten brothers with handcuffs and have them wait in the
patrol car; he advised the brothers of their Miranda
rights, placed them in handcuffs, patted them down and placed
them in the backseat of the patrol car to wait for Det.
Childress; approximately three days later, he assisted the
Caldwell Parish Sheriff's Office with the execution of a
search warrant at the Wooten residence and surrounding
property; while searching the property, he found a garbage
bag sitting behind a tree next to a pond; the garbage bag
"looked out of place"; and he opened the bag to
find various items, including a pair of black Levi's
jeans, a red bandana, a knit cap and a Crown Royal bag
containing .410 shotgun shells.
Tony Childress testified as follows: he went to Ms.
Cockerham's home as soon as he was notified of the home
intrusion; when he arrived at the home, he observed that Ms.
Cockerham was badly injured, with possibly two broken arms
and various cuts and bruises; he stayed with Ms. Cockerham
for approximately 15-20 minutes until an ambulance
transported her to the hospital; Ms. Cockerham described the
incident to him; she informed him that she had lost
consciousness and did not know when the intruder had exited
her house; Ms. Cockerham told him that the keys to her house
and car were missing; the keys were never recovered; while
investigating the scene, he observed fresh footprints next to
Ms. Cockerham's front door, in the carport near her car
and in the dirt road in front of her house; one of the
footprints found in the road matched the footprints found by
the front door and carport; the footprint did not match the
shoes worn by the defendant or his brother on the day of the
home intrusion; a second footprint was found in the dirt road
but it did not match the footprints found on Ms.
Cockerham's property; the second footprint matched the
shoes the defendant was wearing that day; it was possible to
use the dirt road to get from the Wooten house to Ms.
Cockerham's house; it was also possible to get from the
Wooten house to the Cockerham house through the wooded area
between the homes; it would be difficult to locate footprints
in a wooded area; when he arrived at the Wooten house, the
Wooten brothers were already in the backseat of the police
car; Denzel Wooten told him that his father had just dropped
him off at the home when the officers arrived; Denzel told
him that when he arrived home, he put his headphones on and
jogged down the road, as was his habit; he did not see any
footprints from Denzel's shoes in the dirt road; he
noticed that the Wooten brothers were not wearing "dark
clothing" as described by Ms. Cockerham; when the father
of the brothers arrived, he talked to him about the guns in
his house; Mr. Wooten told him that he owned a .410 shotgun,
but it had been missing for "a couple of days"
before the home intrusion; he approached the Wooten brothers while
they sat in the back of the patrol car and asked them who
took the .410 shotgun from the house; both brothers denied
taking the shotgun; he closed the door to the patrol car and
continued talking to Mr. Wooten; at the time, he was unaware
that one of the police officers had placed a cellphone inside
the police vehicle with an activated recorder; and he later
listened to the recording and heard a conversation that had
taken place between the defendant and his brother.
point during Det. Childress' testimony, defense counsel
objected to the detective's identification of the voices
on the recording, citing lack of foundation and hearsay.
Defense counsel then stated, "[T]he tape can be played
and the jury can determine what it says on its own . . . I
object to this testifying to what he thinks is on the tape
when the jury can listen to it themselves." The trial
court did not address the "hearsay" objection.
Rather, the court directed the state to "lay a
foundation." Thereafter, Det. Childress testified that
he was able to differentiate the brothers' voices because
he had spoken to them prior to listening to the recording.
counsel entered another objection, arguing that the
identification of a person's voice required an expert and
Det. Childress was not a voice recognition expert. The trial
court overruled the objection, finding that it is
"fairly common" for a lay individual to recognize a
person's voice. In response, defense counsel argued that
Det. Childress did not speak with the Wooten brothers long
enough to be able to differentiate their voices. The trial
court maintained its ruling.
Childress' testimony continued as follows: on the
recording, he heard Denzel say something akin to "you
shouldn't of went [sic] down there and done that
man"; he did not hear a response from the defendant; the
Wooten brothers voluntarily went to the police station for
questioning; he questioned them about the statement Denzel
made on the recording; Denzel stated that he assumed the
defendant had committed the crime based on what he heard
about the incident; several days after the incident, he and
several other deputies returned with a warrant to search the
Wooten home; during a search of the area near a pond, he and
the deputies found a garbage bag; the items found in the
garbage bag were as follows: trash, mail addressed to the
Wooten home, an undamaged pair of dark Levi's jeans, a
Crown Royal bag located in the back pocket of the jeans,
three .410 shells located inside the Crown Royal bag, a red
bandana with a knot tied in it and "folded in a way
someone would wear it over their face, " a cap and a
blue long-sleeved pullover shirt; the pond where the garbage
bag was found is located near an "older" road that
was no longer used by members of the public; the few houses
in the area of the Wooten home were not close together; after
the deputies found the garbage bag, he met with Ms. Cockerham
and asked her if she could identify any of the clothing found
in the garbage bag; the only item Ms. Cockerham recognized
was the red bandana; it appeared as if "she was scared
all over when I showed it to her . . .. She said that's
it. That's what he was wearing"; he presented Ms.
Cockerham with a photographic lineup that consisted of only
the eyes of multiple young black men, one of which was the
defendant; Ms. Cockerham was unable to identify any of the
eyes as being those of the defendant; he obtained a search
warrant for the defendant's DNA and a sample was sent to
the crime lab to be compared with DNA found on the red
bandana; the first crime lab report indicated that no DNA was
found on the bandana; and he discussed the matter with
several other deputies and decided to ask the crime lab to
swab the area of the bandana where the knot had been tied.
point in the proceedings, the state introduced into evidence
the recording of the Wooten brothers' conversation as
they sat in the back of the police car. The state sought to
play parts of the recording for the jury. In response,
defense counsel objected to the jury hearing only parts of
the recording. Defense counsel argued that the entire
recording should be played in the presence of the jury. The
trial court agreed and ordered the state to play the entire
recording. However, due to technical difficulties, the trial
court ordered that only excerpts be played for the jury,
through ear phones, in which the jury would have to listen to
the recording one at a time. Thereafter, the recording was
admitted into evidence without objection.
cross-examination, Det. Childress testified as follows: when
he first spoke with Ms. Cockerham, she described the intruder
as a black male, approximately 5'9" tall; she stated
that she did not believe the intruder could have been one of
the Wooten brothers because of the intruder's height;
when he spoke to Ms. Cockerham, he did not know the Wooten
brothers; Ms. Cockerham was the one who first brought up the
Wooten name; Ms. Cockerham told him that she was only able to
see the intruder's eyes because his face was covered with
a bandana and a cap was pulled down to his eyebrows; Ms.
Cockerham identified the intruder's gun as a shotgun; Ms.
Cockerham stated that she did not know enough about guns to
tell him "anything about it"; the Wooten brothers
voluntarily went to the sheriff's office for questioning
and were transported in separate police cars; after the
Wooten brothers were transported away from the scene, one of
the deputies told him that a recording had been made of a
conversation between the brothers as they sat in the back of
a patrol car; he listened to the recording and concluded that
the defendant was the intruder; he advised the Wooten
brothers of their Miranda rights after they arrived
at the sheriff's office; the brothers signed the
"rights forms" but refused to provide a statement;
Denzel discussed the comments he made on the recording; and
he placed the defendant under arrest.
asked to clarify why he arrested the defendant, Det.
Childress testified that the defendant fit the victim's
description, i.e. "black male, " he had
listened to the comment Denzel made to the defendant as they
sat inside the police car, and he noticed that the defendant
did not deny or defend Denzel's comment. Defense counsel
then asked the detective if he heard the defendant respond to
Denzel's comment by stating, "I didn't do
sh*t." Det. Childress agreed that he heard the defendant
make a similar statement on the recording. However, the
detective maintained that the defendant's statement was
not "an immediate response" to his brother's
counsel also questioned Det. Childress with regard to Ms.
Cockerham's testimony that the photographic lineup he
showed her was of complete faces, rather than just the
participants' eyes. The detective testified that he only
showed Ms. Cockerham photographs of eyes and that she was
"mistaken" in her recollection of the lineup. He
also stated that during his second interview with Ms.
Cockerham, she was able to recall some additional details
about her assailant: he was wearing a dark-colored blue or
gray knit cap, a faded red bandana across his nose with his
eyes exposed, and a long-sleeved button-up shirt with blue
jeans. She also recalled that the assailant touched her
forehead and chest with the shotgun. Det. Childress further
testified that Ms. Cockherham did not tell him that the
assailant was wielding a .410 shotgun.
Childress further testified under cross-examination as
follows: during Ms. Cockerham's third interview, he
showed her the clothing that was found in the garbage bag on
the Wooten property; he did not obtain fingerprints from the
garbage bag or from the items that were recovered in the bag,
including the shotgun shells; "someone, " possibly
the defendant's father or another neighbor, reported that
they had seen an unidentified black male in the area on the
day of the intrusion; he did not verify the information
regarding an unidentified black man; and he did not consider
any suspect other than the defendant because he "had no
reason to look anywhere else."
Wooten testified as follows: he did not recall telling the
defendant, "I can't believe you went down there and
did that stuff"; he did not recall telling Det.
Childress that he "assumed" the defendant had
committed the offense; and he did not have any knowledge of
the trash bag found on his father's property.
defendant's father, Calvin Wooten, testified as follows:
on the day of the incident, at approximately 2:00 p.m., he
picked Denzel up from Columbia, dropped him off at their home
and left again; subsequently, Det. Childress called him and
told him to come home; when he arrived at his home, Det.
Childress informed him that a black male had broken into Ms.
Cockerham's house armed with a shotgun and may have
broken both of her arms; the detective also told him that his
sons were being detained because they were the only black
males in the area; when he arrived, he found his sons sitting
in the backseat of the police car; he walked Det. Childress
through the house and showed him the guns that he kept there;
he told Det. Childress that all of his guns were accounted
for, except for a .410 shotgun that had been missing for
approximately two or three months; he informed Det. Childress
that he and another neighbor had seen an unidentified black
male in the area approximately one week prior to the
incident; on the night of the home intrusion, Det. Childress
and Det. Sedric Meredith returned to his house and he
consented to a search of his property; the officers searched
his house and the surrounding property, including the pond
area, for approximately 1½ hours; the following
morning, the officers returned to his property, without his
permission, and searched the wooded area between his house
and Ms. Cockerham's house; a few days later, the officers
returned with a search warrant and searched the property
again; he noticed divers searching the pond located on his
property; he does not have trash pickup at his house, so he
burns his trash in his backyard; the garbage bag containing
the items found on his property were not located in the same
place where he usually burns his trash; and he did not know
how the garbage bag with the clothing came to be on his
Meredith, the chief of police for the Town of Columbia,
testified as follows: he accompanied Det.
Childress to the Wooten house late in the evening on the date
of the incident; Calvin Wooten granted them permission to
search the house; neither he nor Det. Childress searched the
area near the pond that night; and the search lasted for
approximately 45 minutes.
Childress was recalled as a witness for the state. After
being reminded of his previous testimony that he had searched
the Wooten property only one time,  Det. Childress testified
that he did not recall searching the property any time except
for the time he executed the search warrant.
Traweek, a forensic DNA analyst for the North Louisiana Crime
Lab, testified as follows: she performed DNA tests on the red
bandana and shirt that were found in the garbage bag on the
Wooten property; she performed the tests by cutting small
pieces from the bandana and the shirt; there was insufficient
DNA on the cuttings to provide a valid DNA profile;
subsequently, at the request of Det. Childress, she performed
an "alternative" DNA collection procedure on the
clothing; during this round of testing, she untied the knot
on the bandana and swabbed the areas of the knot to obtain
DNA samples; she was able to create a DNA profile; the DNA
profile obtained from the knot on the bandana was consistent
with the reference sample obtained from the defendant; only
.2% of the earth's population may have DNA consistent
with the DNA profile obtained from the bandana swab; the DNA
profile obtained from the shirt was a mixture of at least two
people; and the mixed sample prevented her from determining
whether she could include or exclude the defendant as a
cross-examination, Traweek testified as follows: it was
possible (but not probable) that DNA from other items found
in the garbage bag with the bandana could have been
transferred to the bandana; the above cited statistics
regarding the likelihood of a DNA match to someone other than
the defendant applied only to nonrelated individuals; the
statistics from related persons were "slightly"
different; she could not identify the exact probability
without a reference sample from the defendant's
relatives; the DNA profile obtained from the bandana could
not have come from a relative of the defendant because the
relative's DNA profile would be different from the
defendant's DNA profile; there could have been DNA from
other persons on the areas of clothing that she did not test;
she could not specifically exclude any particular person as a
DNA contributor without obtaining ...