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State v. Traylor

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 28, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA, Appellee
v.
COTY SCOTT TRAYLOR, Appellant

         Appealed from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of Lincoln, Louisiana Trial Court No. 68466 Honorable Jay B. McCallum, Judge.

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          JOHN F. BELTON District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          TRACY W. HOUCK, LAURIE L. WHITTEN JAMES Assistant District Attorneys

          Before BROWN, WILLIAMS, and GARRETT, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         The defendant, Coty Scott Traylor, was charged by bill of information with driving while intoxicated, fourth offense, a violation of La. R.S. 14:98 and 14:98.4. Following a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty as charged. Defendant was sentenced to pay a $5, 000 fine and serve 25 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm the conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         The record shows that in April 2016, Ruston Police Officers Hannah Laborde and Dylan Castaneda were dispatched to look for a silver Ford pickup truck in the Sexton Parking Lot. After arriving, they waited for the owner to return to the vehicle to obtain insurance information. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the officers saw defendant and another man walk across the parking lot and urinate in front of the subject truck. Both men then entered the truck, with defendant getting into the driver's side. Moments later, the truck's engine started and the brake lights came on. Officer Castaneda activated the overhead lights on the patrol vehicle, pulled up next to the defendant's truck, and asked him to exit the vehicle. Defendant admitted to consuming alcohol, but said that he had called a cab and was waiting in his truck for it to arrive. Nonetheless, defendant agreed to submit to several field sobriety tests on which he performed very poorly. The defendant was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. Defendant submitted to an Intoxilizer 5000 exam which indicated that he had a blood alcohol concentration of .276 %.

         After a trial, the jury found defendant guilty of driving while intoxicated, fourth offense. The defendant was sentenced to serve 25 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence and pay a fine of $5, 000. Defendant did not file a motion to reconsider the sentence. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         The defendant contends the evidence presented was insufficient to support the conviction of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Defendant argues the jury erred because the state failed to prove that he was operating his vehicle when contacted by the police.

         The standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim 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 proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Tate, 2001-1658 (La. 5/20/03), 851 So.2d 921, cert. denied, 541 U.S. 905, 124 S.Ct. 1604, 158 L.Ed.2d 248 (2004); State v. Carter, 42, 894 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/9/08), 974 So.2d 181, writ denied, 2008-0499 (La. 11/14/08), 996 So.2d 1086. This standard, now legislatively embodied in La. C.Cr.P. art. 821, does not provide the appellate court with a vehicle to substitute its own appreciation of the evidence for that of the fact finder. State v. Pigford, 2005-0477 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517; State v. Dotie, 43, 819 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/14/09), 1 So.3d 833, writ denied, 2009-0310 (La. 11/6/09), 21 So.3d 297.

         The Jackson standard is applicable in cases involving both direct and circumstantial evidence. An appellate court reviewing the sufficiency of evidence in such cases must resolve any conflict in the direct evidence by viewing that evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. When the direct evidence is thus viewed, the facts established by the direct evidence and inferred from the circumstances established by that evidence must be sufficient for a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of ...


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