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State v. White

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

February 16, 2018



          Hillar C. Moore, III District Attorney and Stacy Wright Assistant District Attorney Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellee State of Louisiana

          Cynthia K. Meyer Louisiana Appellate Project New Orleans, Louisiana Attorney for Defendant/ Appellant Roderick White


          McDonald, J.

         A grand jury indicted the defendant, Roderick White, with second degree murder, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:30.1. The defendant pled not guilty and, following a jury trial, was found guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment at hard labor, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The defendant now appeals, designating one assignment of error. We affirm the conviction and sentence.


         On the afternoon of January 6, 2015, Brandon Coleman was driving around the Scenic Highway area in Baton Rouge with three passengers, including the defendant. Nearby on Walnut Street, Gregory Spears was at his mother-in-law's house, selling CDs out of the trunk of his car. NaQuian Robinson drove up, got out, and bought some CDs from Mr. Spears. As the two men stood there talking, Mr. Coleman drove by and stopped at a nearby carwash. The defendant got out of the car, walked over to the two men, and asked Mr. Spears about some CDs. When Mr. Spears turned to look in his trunk, the defendant pulled a gun and tried to rob Mr. Robinson. The defendant and Mr. Robinson wrestled over the gun, and Mr. Robinson was shot multiple times.

         The defendant ran down the street and cut through a yard to Chestnut Street, where Mr. Coleman picked him up and drove away. Mr. Robinson got into his car, drove a short distance, and crashed into a fence. His family took him to the hospital, where he died of his wounds that same day. Mr. Spears was unable to identify the shooter. When the police brought Mr. Coleman in for questioning, he implicated the defendant in Mr. Robinson's shooting. The defendant did not testify at trial.


         In his sole assignment of error, the defendant argues the trial court erred in allowing the jury to hear the videotaped statement Brandon Coleman gave to police. Specifically, the defendant contends that Mr. Coleman's failure, at trial, to recall the events surrounding the shooting, or the giving of his videotaped statement, violated the defendant's right to confrontation, because Mr. Coleman could not be effectively or meaningfully cross examined about his videotaped statement.

         According to Mr. Coleman's statement to police, Mr. Coleman was driving the black Toyota Camry, in which the defendant and two other people were passengers, before the defendant got out of the car and shot Mr. Robinson. After the shooting, the defendant ran down Walnut Street, cut through a yard, and ran to Chestnut Street (one street down and parallel to Walnut Street). Mr. Coleman drove the car to Chestnut Street and picked up the defendant. The defendant's movements immediately after the shooting were confirmed by Alexandria Edwards, who testified at trial that the front of her house faced Chestnut Street and the back of her house faced Walnut Street. After hearing gunshots, she looked out the window and saw someone running with a gun through the yard. She then saw the armed person jump into a black car on Chestnut Street.

         In his statement, Mr. Coleman specifically disclosed that he heard the gunshots and that the defendant "did do it." Mr. Coleman did not see a gun when the defendant got out of the car, but Mr. Coleman saw the defendant with a gun when he got back in the car. When asked if he actually saw the defendant shoot Mr. Robinson, Mr. Coleman replied that he did not actually see the defendant shoot Mr. Robinson, but saw him shooting in that direction. When Mr. Coleman picked the defendant up on Chestnut Street, the defendant said he had shot himself in the leg. The defendant told Mr. Coleman not to bring him to the hospital.

         At the defendant's trial, before Mr. Coleman took the stand, the trial court told him he had the right to testify as well as the right not to testify. Mr. Coleman was being charged as an accessory after the fact and had not yet been tried on that charge. Mr. Coleman told the trial court that he would testify. The prosecutor told the trial court that he anticipated a medical issue arising when Mr. Coleman took the stand. The prosecutor ...

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