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State ex rel. D.M.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

February 22, 2018


         On Appeal from the Juvenile Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana No. JU111578 Honorable Adam J. Haney, Judge Presiding

          Annette Roach Louisiana Appellate Project Lake Charles, Louisiana Counsel for Appellant D.M.

          Hillar C. Moore, III District Attorney Cristopher J.M. Casler Assistant District Attorney Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Appellee State of Louisiana


          MCCLENDON, J.

         The fifteen-year-old juvenile, D.M., was alleged to be delinquent according to petition number 111, 578, filed by the State on July 3, 2017, pursuant to the Louisiana Children's Code.[1] The petition was based upon the alleged commission of simple burglary, a violation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:62. The juvenile entered a denial to the allegation. Following an adjudication hearing, the juvenile was adjudicated delinquent. At the disposition hearing, the juvenile judge committed the juvenile to the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice ("OJJ") until his twenty-first birthday. On appeal, the juvenile argues that the disposition imposed is excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm the juvenile's adjudication of delinquency and disposition.


         At the adjudication hearing, witness Jason Hunt testified that on May 25, 2017, he received a notification between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. that motion was detected on his driveway in Baton Rouge. When he viewed a surveillance recording of his driveway, he observed three men entering his truck. He testified that nothing was taken from his vehicle. He turned the surveillance video over to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department. The video depicts the juvenile as one of the three men who entered Hunt's vehicle and the juvenile identified himself in the video.

         The juvenile was also developed as a suspect in a rash of burglaries that took place in various subdivisions in the Shenandoah area of Baton Rouge. On June 30, 2017, the juvenile was placed under arrest at the residence where he lived with his parents, advised of his Miranda[2] rights, and transported for questioning. Detectives searched the juvenile's house and located multiple cellular telephones, two tablet devices, rubber gloves, a .380 magazine, and a pair of tennis shoes that matched those worn by the juvenile in the surveillance video. Thereafter, a detective drove the juvenile around various neighborhoods, and the juvenile pointed out the unlocked vehicles that he and two other juveniles burglarized. The juvenile stated that he and the other two juveniles "hit" at least fifteen vehicles in one of the neighborhoods and sold stolen items to classmates and through "Letgo." He pointed out seven specific addresses where unlocked vehicles were parked. One of those addresses was 15414 Ferrell Avenue, which the juvenile noted they "hit" in early to mid-June. The juvenile specifically noted that a "Glock" was taken from the 15414 Ferrell Avenue address but denied that he was the person who took the firearm.

         After testimony connected to the instant petition was introduced, the State called witnesses in connection with petition number 111, 588, counts two and eighteen (simple burglary) and count nineteen (theft of a firearm). John Demopulos, who lived at 15414 Ferrell Avenue in Baton Rouge, testified that his two vehicles were burglarized at his home between June 13, 2017, at 11:30 p.m. and June 14, 2017, at 7:30 a.m. On the morning of June 14, 2017, Demopulos found that his Bible, 9 millimeter Glock pistol, checkbook, and address book were taken from one vehicle, and a prescription medicine bottle had been removed from the second vehicle.


         In his sole assignment of error, the juvenile argues that the disposition imposed by the juvenile court is excessive. Specifically, he complains that the juvenile court failed to articulate specific reasons for the disposition and imposed a disposition in excess of that necessary for rehabilitation.

         Louisiana Children's Code article 901B provides that the court shall impose on the child the least restrictive disposition authorized by Louisiana Children's Code articles 897 through 900, which the court finds consistent with the circumstances of the case, the needs of the child, and the best interest of society. Commitment of the child to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections may be appropriate under any of the following circumstances: (1) there is an undue risk that during a period of a suspended commitment or probation the child will commit another crime; (2) the child is in need of correctional treatment or a custodial environment that can be provided most effectively by his commitment; (3) a lesser disposition will deprecate the seriousness of the child's delinquent act; and (4) the delinquent act involved the illegal carrying, use, or possession of a firearm. LSA-Ch.C. art. 901C. In imposing a disposition, the juvenile court is required to indicate in the record consideration of the statutory disposition guidelines. LSA-Ch.C. art. 903A; see State in Interest of R.L.K., 95-1277 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/19/95), 666 So.2d 427, 432, writ denied, 95-3120 (La. 1/26/96), 666 So.2d 1084.

         The juvenile court ordered a predisposition report. The report notes that on August 16, 2017, the juvenile participated in a predisposition interview wherein he admitted committing the burglaries and explained that he did so because he needed money to reimburse his mother after he stole sixty dollars from her. According to the juvenile, his mother "kicked him out" of the house for stealing the money and told him that he could not return until he reimbursed her. He stated that he "hit a lick" because he did not want to stay outside. He further stated that he wanted money to purchase drugs. The juvenile told his ...

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