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State v. Aguillard

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 11, 2018



          Earl B. Taylor District Attorney Jennifer M. Ardoin Assistant District Attorney Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana

          Katherine G. Guillot Hawkins Oetjens, LLC Counsel for Defendant/Appellant: Teddy Aguillard

          Court composed of Phyllis M. Keaty, John E. Conery, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.


         Defendant, Teddy Aguillard, appeals the trial court's convictions and sentences. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court.


         On May 26, 2015, Defendant, Teddy Aguillard, owned a driving school in Eunice and was teaching driving lessons when he made lewd comments to two of his juvenile students, S.B. and A.A.[1] On October 26, 2015, Defendant was charged with two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles, violations of La.R.S. 14:81(A)(2).[2] On February 17, 2017, a unanimous jury found him guilty as charged on both counts. On March 9, 2017, Defendant was sentenced to five years at hard labor on each count, and the sentences were ordered to run concurrently with one another. The trial court informed Defendant that he would be required to register as a sex offender for fifteen years upon his release from incarceration. Following a hearing on April 13, 2017, the trial court denied Defendant's motion to reconsider sentence. Defendant appealed.

         On appeal, Defendant asserts the following assignments of error:

1. The evidence introduced at the trial of this case, when viewed under the standard enunciated in Jackson v. Virginia, was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant committed the crimes of Indecent Behavior with a Juvenile.
2. Defendant, Teddy Aguillard, was deprived his constitutional right to a fair trial before an unbiased jury by the introduction of improper other acts evidence by the State in violation of U.S. Constitution Amendments V, VI, and XIV; Louisiana Constitution Article I Sections 2 and 16; and LSA-C.E. Art. 404(B).
3. The Trial Court erred in imposing a sentence of five (5) years at hard labor with the Department of Corrections, as such sentence is excessive and in violation of Article I, Section 20 of the Louisiana Constitution and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


         I. Errors Patent

         In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After reviewing the record, we find one error patent. In that regard, the crime of indecent behavior with juveniles requires the trial court to order the seizure and impoundment of the personal property used in the commission of the offense and, after conviction, to order the property sold at public sale or public auction by the district attorney. La.R.S. 14:81(H)(3). In this case, the trial court's failure to order impoundment and seizure of Defendant's personal property used in the commission of this offense renders the sentence illegally lenient. "However, this court will not consider an illegally lenient sentence unless it is a raised error." State v. Celestine, 11-1403, p. 2 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/30/12), 91 So.3d 573, 575.

         II. First Assignment of Error

         In his first assignment of error, Defendant contends that the evidence introduced at trial, when viewed under the standard enunciated in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781 (1979), was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime of indecent behavior with juveniles. Defendant alleges the State failed to prove that he possessed the specific intent to sexually arouse himself or the victims when he made the comments in question. Defendant asserts that his inappropriate comments were not lewd or lascivious.

         In Louisiana, the standard of review utilized when reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim is discussed in State v. Williams, 16-140, pp. 9-10 (La.App. 3 Cir. 9/28/16), 201 So.3d 379, 388 (quoting State v. Miller, 98-1873, p. 5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/13/99), 746 So.2d 118, 120, writ denied, 99-3259 (La. 5/5/00), 761 So.2d 541), as follows:

When the issue of sufficiency of evidence is raised on appeal, the critical inquiry of the reviewing court 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 ex rel. Graffagnino v. King, 436 So.2d 559 (La.1983); State v. Duncan, 420 So.2d 1105 (La.1982); State v. Moody, 393 So.2d 1212 (La.1981). The role of the factfinder is to weigh the respective credibility of each witness. Therefore, the appellate court should not second guess the credibility determinations of the factfinder beyond the sufficiency evaluations under the Jackson standard of review. See State ex rel. Graffagnino, 436 So.2d 559, citing State v. Richardson, 425 So.2d 1228 (La.1983).

         In this case, Defendant was charged with and found guilty of two counts of indecent behavior with juveniles, violations of La.R.S. 14:81(A)(2), which provides:

A. Indecent behavior with juveniles is the commission of any of the following acts with the intention of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of either person:
. . . .
(2) The transmission, delivery or utterance of any textual, visual, written, or oral communication depicting lewd or lascivious conduct, text, words, or images to any person reasonably believed to be under the age of seventeen and reasonably believed to be at least two years younger than the offender. It shall not be a defense that the person who actually receives the transmission is not under the age of seventeen.

         The first witness to testify at trial was S.B., who was born on December 5, 1999 and was fifteen years old during the incident. S.B.'s testimony revealed that in May 2015, she attended Gator Driving School, which was owned and operated by Defendant. S.B. advised that during her instructional training, which took place in a classroom, Defendant told the students "not to tell our parents [and] what happens in his class stays in his class." She testified that Defendant would also "make jokes about a letter 'D,' like you don't get it, like you don't the [sic] letter 'D,' what it stands for, if I may say 'dick.'" S.B. testified that her friend, A.A., attended class with her.

         As for the driving portion, S.B. advised that she and A.A. drove together with Defendant. S.B.'s description of the first day of driving revealed the following:

Mr. Teddy had made a little joke that asked if we wanted to see a big white cock and he started to pull down his pants which I was driving and we both had screamed, "No," and then he was like, "Look outside your window," and we had laughed but it wasn't a funny laugh. It was that we were relieved that it [sic] wasn't actually showing what he was going to show us.

         At the time, S.B. believed Defendant was going to expose himself because he "went to touch his pants to pull down his pants leg" "[b]y his crotch area." She advised, however, that Defendant actually pointed to a rooster that "was in somebody's front yard." S.B. said she felt uncomfortable during the first day of driving.

         S.B. testified that on the second day of driving, Defendant looked at pictures on both her and A.A.'s cellular phones. According to her testimony, Defendant found a picture of S.B. in a bathing suit and asked who was the girl in the picture. S.B. explained that when she advised that she was the girl in the picture, Defendant replied: "You're lying because this girl has tits and you don't[.]" S.B. indicated that Defendant also talked about her breasts on another occasion, which she described as follows: "When I was driving he told me that we should stop . . . at the Walmart Distribution Center to get me a training bra because I have no tits." S.B. claimed that Defendant said A.A. had big "ones and I didn't." S.B. revealed that Defendant's comments about her breasts made her feel "[a]shamed, embarrassed," and "really uncomfortable."

         S.B. further testified that on one occasion when she was in the backseat and A.A. was driving, Defendant was sitting in the front passenger seat and pulled out his cellular phone. She indicated that from her location in the backseat she was able to see Defendant's phone, which contained "pictures of girls' body parts and area parts that were fully - - no clothes, naked[.]" Defendant did not try to hide his phone from her, according to S.B.'s testimony. When S.B. asked Defendant why he was showing them the contents of his phone, Defendant responded, "because [my] wife doesn't give out, only on Jesus' day which is Sunday." S.B. advised that Defendant never touched her inappropriately, although he pulled her hair when she "was to get out the car and . . . pulled down [her] hair when [she] had got out the car."

         On cross-examination, S.B. denied that she requested to drive with Defendant. Defense counsel also elicited testimony from S.B. indicating that she did not specifically mention crotch area in her initial police report to Detective Nicholas Cooley. S.B. clarified, however, that although she did not write it in her report, she did tell Detective Cooley that Defendant put his hand by his crotch. S.B. testified that her report states that Defendant "went to pull . . . his pants leg down." She revealed that she laughed when Defendant made the "white cock" joke, but it was a laugh of relief "that it wasn't what he was showing us, trying to show us."

         On further cross-examination, S.B. discussed the second day of driving and revealed that Defendant used the word "tits," not "boobs." According to S.B, Defendant was making fun of her which made her uncomfortable. S.B. agreed that she punched Defendant in the arm three times, and she knew he was not joking because "it wasn't funny." Defense counsel showed S.B. her police report wherein she noted that Defendant was "clowning my boobs." S.B. advised that "clowning" meant talking about them. She agreed that she referred to "boobs" in the police report. S.B. advised that her parents asked her about what happened when she returned home after the second day. S.B.'s testimony on cross-examination with respect to viewing pornography on Defendant's phone and Defendant's explanation for the pornography was identical to her testimony on direct examination. When asked if she was "turned on" by anything Defendant said, S.B. replied, "Not at all."

         On redirect examination, S.B. denied talking about sexual things with her friend, Logan Daigle. S.B. explained that she did not use the word "tits" in her police report because she feels more comfortable using the word "boobs." The following colloquy also took place between the prosecutor and S.B. with respect to Defendant's crotch area:

Q. And [Detective] Cooley he didn't talk a lot about - - about clarify the crotch. I use the word "crotch." Was it near his foot area where he touched himself after saying, "Do you want to see a big white cock?" Did he touch himself some kind of way?
A. In the upper area, yes, ma'am.
Q. Was it in the lower pant leg like down here?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. And that's what I'm trying to be clear. Can you stand up and show the jury the area he touched himself in?
A. Right here.
THE COURT: Let the record reflect that the witness used her right hand and touched the upper right thigh where the thigh would meet the groin area.

         The next witness to testify was Erica Landry, S.B.'s stepmother. Ms. Landry described learning of the incident while talking to A.A.'s mother, Kelly Ardoin,[3] and the two victims. Ms. Landry explained:

[S.B.] and [A.A.] drove that morning and they went to school because they had volleyball tryouts that day. . . . [W]hen I came home from work, Kelly came with both of the girls and . . . she said, "Erica, let me tell you about what Mr. Teddy said today," and she proceeded to tell me about the big white cock joke, and she said he grabbed himself. I said, "What do you mean," and she said he grabbed his pants and she showed me where he grabbed. I said, "Did he pull his pants down?" She said, "No, he did not pull them down but as soon as he grabbed them, he pointed to a rooster," and we were like, "Oh, okay, you know." Fifteen year old girl, get his stuff, doesn't know how to handle it, really. She didn't know how to handle that situation.

         Ms. Landry testified that she was "stunned because that's not a way to joke." She further explained:

I kind of had to absorb, had to think about it, because . . . your first reaction is do I allow my child to go back or ask her if anything else has happened. . . . So I said, "Are you okay with going back? Did he touch you?" "No he didn't pull his pants down. It was just - - it was a dirty joke." I said, "Okay." She went the next day and, uh, Kelly and I spoke throughout the day. We agreed that we needed to talk to the girls that evening and make sure that nothing else was happening. Uh, that second evening is when she spilled the beans after I told her she wasn't going back because we were uncomfortable.

         Ms. Landry indicated that she felt S.B. was not safe and did not deserve to be spoken to in such a dirty way.

         On cross-examination, Ms. Landry revealed that she and her husband allowed S.B. to return to driving lessons the second day because they "were indecisive" as to whether Defendant made a dirty joke or whether he was "this type of person." She noted that S.B. did not mention any other comments made by Defendant, so she and her husband allowed S.B. to return since she would have a driving partner and would not be alone with Defendant. When Ms. Landry talked to S.B. after the second day of driving, she and her husband decided that S.B. would not return. Ms. Landry testified ...

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