APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15-7120, DIVISION
"C" HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Darren A. Allemand
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, ERIC FITCH Jane L. Beebe
composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Hans J. Liljeberg, and
Marion F. Edwards, Judge Pro Tempore
E. JOHNSON JUDGE.
Eric Fitch, appeals his conviction for purse snatching on the
basis the evidence was insufficient to convict him. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm.
was charged in a bill of information on January 14, 2016 with
purse snatching in violation of La. R.S. 14:65.1. He pled not
guilty and filed a motion to suppress identification, which
was denied after a hearing. After being found competent to
stand trial, Defendant proceeded to trial before a six-person
jury on February 14, 2017, and was found guilty as charged.
February 16, 2017, before Defendant was sentenced, the State
filed a multiple offender bill of information alleging
Defendant to be a third felony offender. Defendant appeared
for sentencing on February 24, 2017, and was sentence to 20
years at hard labor. Immediately following the imposition of
sentence, Defendant stipulated to the allegations contained
in the multiple bill. The trial court vacated his original
sentence and resentenced Defendant as a third felony offender
to an enhanced 20 years at hard labor without the benefit of
probation or suspension of sentence. This out-of-time appeal
November 28, 2015, Rosalie Palmisano - the victim - and her
friend, Danielle Scott, left a local sports bar on Jefferson
Highway where they had been drinking and watching an LSU
football game. Upon leaving the bar that evening, the victim
was approached in the parking lot by a man requesting a
cigarette. The victim advised the man that she did not smoke
and proceeded to open the passenger-side car door. Placing
her leftover food from the bar on the dashboard and her purse
on the floorboard, she began to climb into the car when the
man pushed her up against the car's interior console,
grabbed her purse, and ran down the street.
victim recalled that the man who approached her was
Caucasian, in his early thirties, "maybe blonde hair,
" and was wearing black pants, a white shirt, and dark
rimmed glasses. She further reported that her cell phone
was in the purse that was taken. The reporting officers were
able to trace the victim's cell phone to the 500 block of
Arnoult Road; however, efforts to locate the suspect were
fruitless so a second trace was performed indicating the
location of the cell phone near the neighboring 500 block of
Sizeler Road. The officers relocated to the area near Sizeler
Road where they found Defendant, matching the description
given by the victim, hiding in a dumpster behind a Winn Dixie
parking lot along with the victim's purse and its
contents, refusing to surrender to the
was eventually apprehended and the victim was contacted by
police officers who transported her to the alleyway behind
the Winn Dixie store where she identified Defendant - after
having asked the officers to have the suspect put on the dark
rimmed glasses in his possession - as the man who had stolen
her purse earlier that evening. The victim's purse and
its contents - including her cell phone, sunglasses, and
wallet containing money and "various cards" - were
recovered in the dumpster where Defendant was found hiding.
sole assignment of error, Defendant argues the evidence
presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction
for purse snatching, and at most, the evidence only proved
the crime of theft. Specifically, Defendant contends the
State was unable to meet an essential element of the crime
charged when it failed to prove that the victim's purse
was in her immediate control or on her person at the time it
was taken. Defendant further challenges the State's proof
regarding his identity as the perpetrator, noting that the
description of the suspect provided by the victim did not
reference the notable tattoo on the left side of his neck.
conviction based on insufficient evidence cannot stand as it
violates due process. See U.S. Constitution amend.
XIV; La. Constitution art. I, § 2. The standard of
review for the sufficiency of the evidence to uphold a
conviction is whether or not, 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
beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).
See also La. C.Cr.P. art. 821(B); State v.
Ordodi, 06-207 (La. 11/29/06); 946 So.2d 654, 660. Both
the direct and circumstantial evidence must be sufficient to
support the conclusion that the defendant is guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. State v. Harrell, 01-841 (La.App.
5 Cir. 2/26/02); 811 So.2d 1015, 1019. A reviewing court is
required to consider the whole record and determine whether a
rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Price, 00-1883
(La.App. 5 Cir. 7/30/01); 792 So.2d 180, 184.
was convicted of purse snatching, which is defined as
"the theft of anything of value contained within a purse
or wallet at the time of the theft, from the person of
another or which is in the immediate control of another, by
use of force, intimidation, or by ...