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State v. Garcie

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

April 11, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
CHRISTOPHER K. GARCIE

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-556, DIVISION "F" HONORABLE MICHAEL P. MENTZ, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Andrea F. Long Rachel L. Africk Douglas E. Rushton

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, CHRISTOPHER K. GARCIE Holli A. Herrle-Castillo

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, and Stephen J. Windhorst

          FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER JUDGE

         Defendant, Christopher K. Garcie, appeals his conviction for four counts of attempted second-degree murder, one count of aggravated flight from an officer, and one count of illegal use of weapons by discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle located upon a public highway. Having pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement wherein defendant reserved his appellate right under State v. Crosby, 338 So.2d 584 (La. 1976), to appeal the trial court's pretrial ruling granting the State's motion to admit other crimes evidence at the trial of defendant's case, defendant assigns as error the trial court's order granting the State's motion. For the reasons fully discussed herein, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences and remand this matter to the district court for corrections of errors patent on the record.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In a bill of information filed on January 30, 20167, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney charged that, on November 29, 2016 while in Jefferson Parish, Mr. Garcie: (1) violated La. R.S. 14:30 and La. R.S. 14:27, in that he attempted to commit first-degree murder of Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office ("JPSO") Deputies Jason Loerwald, Jerome Green, Todd Bordelon and Michael Jones; (2) violated La. R.S. 14:108.1(C), in that Mr. Garcie intentionally refused to bring a vehicle to a stop, under circumstances wherein human life was endangered, knowing he had been given a visual warning and an audible signal to stop by Deputy Bordelon when the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that defendant had committed an offense; and (3) violated La. R.S. 14:94(E), in that Mr. Garcie intentionally, or in a criminally negligent manner, discharged a firearm from a motor vehicle located upon a public highway, with the intent to injure, harm, or frighten another human being. At his arraignment on February 3, 2017, Mr. Garcie pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges. No motion to appoint a sanity commission or for mental examination was filed, and no sanity hearing was held to determine Mr. Garcie's mental capacity to stand trial or to assist counsel in his defense. On August 4, 2017, the State filed a notice of intent to admit evidence of other acts as res gestae under La. C.E. art. 404(B), to which Mr. Garcie responded by filing a written objection. Following a hearing on August 28, 2017, the trial judge ruled that other evidence leading up to the police chase would be admissible at trial.

         On September 19, 2017, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, the State amended the attempted first-degree murder charges to four counts of attempted second-degree murder, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1 and La. R.S. 14:27.[1] On that same date, Mr. Garcie entered pleas of guilty under State v. Crosby, supra, to the amended charges of attempted second-degree murder, [2] withdrew his previous pleas of not guilty and pleaded guilty as charged to aggravated flight from an officer and illegal use of a firearm, and reserved his right to appeal the granting of the State's notice of intent to admit evidence of other acts as res gestae.

         After the trial court advised Mr. Garcie of his rights and Mr. Garcie waived these rights to the court's satisfaction, the trial court accepted Mr. Garcie's guilty pleas. Mr. Garcie then waived sentencing delays and, accordingly, the trial court sentenced him to serve concurrent sentences of imprisonment at hard labor for fifteen years on the four counts of attempted second-degree murder, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence; imprisonment at hard labor for five years on the one count of aggravated flight from an officer; and, imprisonment at hard labor for ten years for the one count of an illegal use of a firearm, without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, with credit for time served. The trial court also imposed various fines and fees. Defendant now appeals.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Because Mr. Garcie pled guilty, the underlying facts were not fully developed in the record and are largely gleaned from the police report upon which the State relied in seeking admission of other crimes evidence. According to the police report, the charged offenses committed by Mr. Garcie in Jefferson Parish were committed on November 29, 2016, after Mr. Garcie engaged in the following criminal activity in St. Tammany Parish:

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, at approximately 2130 hours, Deputies Troy White and Walter Eason were dispatched to Rouses Food Market, located at 3461 East Causeway Boulevard, in Mandeville, Louisiana, in reference to an aggravated kidnapping. Deputies arrived at approximately 2139 hours, coming into contact with Mandeville Police Officer Derek Dondeville. Officer Dondeville reported, under his case number 1611-1084, the following:
A white female subject... made contact with Rouses employees and requested they dial 911. [The female subject][3] stated she had been kidnapped and escaped in the rear parking lot of the business. The suspects [sic] vehicle had been BOLO'd[4] and was currently being pursued by the Mandeville Police Department, southbound, on the Causeway Bridge. The victim... was secured in the rear of Officer Dondevilles [sic] patrol unit.
Deputy Eason relocated to Officer Dondevilles [sic] patrol unit where he came into contact with [the female subject]. Deputy Eason observed a zip tie strap on her left wrist and small cuts on her wrists and feet. [The subject] reported the following:
[The female subject] met with a man, identified as Christopher Garcie, on the website www.backpage.com. A bargain was made to meet Mr. Garcie at [an address] in Lacombe, Louisiana, for the price of $400.00. Mr. Garcie approached [the female subject's] vehicle upon her arrival at the location in Lacombe. He brandished a firearm and ordered her to exit the vehicle. Mr. Garcie identified himself as a Federal Agent and forced [the female subject] inside the residence. While inside he struck her in the back of the head, with the firearm, and bound her hands with zip ties behind her back. Mr. Garcie proceeded to force [the female subject] into the front passenger seat of his vehicle where they traveled west towards Mandeville, Louisiana. While traveling [the female subject] was able to free her hands and wait for an opportunity to escape. Mr. Garcie entered the Rouses rear parking lot where he slowed the vehicle's speed. [The female subject] jumped from the moving vehicle and ran towards other citizens screaming, "help, I've been kidnapped." [The female subject] was escorted into the store, by an unidentified white male subject, where she was able to dia1 911. [The female subject] described the vehicle as a white colored pickup truck pulling a box shaped trailer.
Emergency medical services were dispatched to the scene. Fire district # 4 later arrived and [the female subject] refused treatment. Deputy Eason relocated to the rear parking lot of Rouses, and located a black colored bag along with a face mask. [The female subject] alleged that the face mask was utilized as a blind fold and that the bag had fallen out of the vehicle during her escape.

         According to Mr. Garcie's brief on appeal, following the BOLO alert that had been issued for him in St. Tammany Parish, law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions located his vehicle traveling southbound toward Jefferson Parish. Mr. Garcie's brief further avers that, based on the BOLO, the officers attempted to conduct a stop of his vehicle, but he refused and, instead, led the law enforcement officers on a high speed chase into Jefferson Parish, during which he allegedly fired several shots from his vehicle towards the pursuing police units. Mr. Garcie was ultimately apprehended and charged.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         In his sole assignment of error on appeal, Mr. Garcie challenges the trial court's ruling granting the State's motion to admit other crimes evidence under La. C.E. art. 404(B).

         DISCUSSION

         In support of his contention that the trial court erred, Mr. Garcie argues that none of the other crimes leading up to the high speed chase (i.e., crimes related to the escort, including setting up a date with the female subject in order to kidnap her, impersonating a federal agent, striking her with a firearm, tying her up with zip ties, and kidnapping her), are part of the res gestae of his fleeing from law enforcement officers on the Causeway bridge. Specifically, Mr. Garcie claims that the escort was out of his vehicle when he fled and failed to stop for police, and that the discharge of his firearm occurred in a completely different parish. Mr. Garcie claims that the jury did not need to know the specific facts of the prior crimes for which the BOLO was issued in order to understand the police chase and Mr. Garcie's shooting of his firearm at the police. Mr. Garcie contends that even if the other crimes are found to be necessary for the State to cohesively present its case, the State could have presented the fact that he was suspected of committing an aggravated kidnapping and impersonating an officer, as opposed to presenting all of the disturbing details of the alleged crime, which invariably would inflame and prejudice the jury. According to Mr. Garcie, even if the other acts are determined to be part of the res gestae, the ...


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