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State v. Townsend

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 28, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAMES HENRY TOWNSEND, III Appellant

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 342203 Honorable Katherine Clark Dorroh, Judge

          JAMES HENRY TOWNSEND, III Pro Se

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward Kelly Bauman Counsel for Appellant

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

          JASON WAYNE WALTMAN REBECCA ARMAND EDWARDS JOSHUA K. WILLIAMS Assistant District Attorneys

          Before MOORE, COX, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         This criminal appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo, State of Louisiana. The defendant, James Henry Townsend, III, was charged with one count of possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, in violation of La. R.S. 14:95.1. After a jury trial, Townsend was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 12 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Townsend was also ordered to pay a fine of $1, 000.00 and to pay $250.00 to the Indigent Defenders Office. Townsend's motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and motion to reconsider sentence were denied. On appeal, Townsend challenges his sentence claiming it is excessive. For the following reasons, Townsend's conviction and sentence are affirmed.

         Facts

         On July 9, 2016, Sergeant James Houston of the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office observed a motorcycle, driven by Townsend, passing a car in a no-passing zone on Linwood Avenue in Shreveport, Louisiana. Sergeant Houston stopped Townsend and asked for his license, which Sgt. Houston determined was suspended. When asked, Townsend denied having any weapons; however, when Sgt. Houston conducted a pat-down of Townsend, he discovered a firearm on his person-a .22 caliber revolver loaded with six rounds.

         Initially, Townsend was charged by bill of information with the following: passing in a no-passing zone; illegal carrying of weapons; operating a vehicle while under suspension for certain prior offenses; and, possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon. Townsend pled not guilty to all the charges and elected to have a jury trial. Subsequently, the state filed an amended bill of information charging Townsend with two counts: illegal carrying of weapons and possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon. Ultimately, the state filed a second amended bill of information, only charging Townsend with possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, a violation of La. R.S. 14:95.1

         Townsend's trial on this charge commenced, wherein three witnesses testified. The state called two witnesses. Sergeant Danny Duddy, an officer with the Shreveport Police Department and fingerprint expert, verified that Townsend was indeed the same person who had previously been convicted of illegal use of weapons on April 18, 2001. In addition to describing the incident leading to Townsend's arrest on July 9, 2016, Sgt. Houston established Townsend was a convicted felon when he was arrested. Additionally, Townsend testified on his own behalf. After deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty as charged.

         On March 13, 2017, Townsend filed a motion for a post-verdict judgment of acquittal, which was denied by the trial court on March 27, 2017.[1] That same day, the trial court sentenced Townsend to 12 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The trial court also ordered Townsend to pay a fine of $1, 000.00 and to pay $250.00 to the Indigent Defender's Office. On March 30, 2017, ...


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