FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. CR 130590 HONORABLE DAVID MICHAEL SMITH,
Stutes, District Attorney Cynthia Simon, Assistant District
Attorney COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana.
K. Bauman Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Aaron Orlando Richards.
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy Howard Ezell, and John E.
R. COOKS JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
March 29, 2010, in the late evening, Defendant, Aaron Orlando
Richards, and co-defendant, Marcus Feast, followed Timothy
Falgout to a home where he was delivering a pizza. Defendant
stabbed the victim five times during the course of a robbery.
The victim died as a result of the stab wounds.
October 27, 2010, Defendant was indicted for the first degree
murder of Timothy Falgout, in violation of La.R.S. 14:30. At
the same time, Defendant was indicted for attempted first
degree murder, violations of La.R.S. 14:27 and 14:30, and
purse-snatching, a violation of La.R.S. 14:65.1. The latter
two charges were severed from the first degree murder charge
on April 30, 2012.
December 8, 2010, Defendant filed a "Jackson Demand for
Notice of Any Bad Acts That the State May Wish to Use at
Either Phase." On January 12, 2012, the State filed a
"State's Notice with Regard to Aggravating
Circumstances" and "State's Response to
Defendant's Jackson Demand for Notice of Any Bad Acts
That the State May Wish to Use at Either Phase" and on
March 28, 2012, the State filed an amended response.
issue of the La.Code Evid. art. 404(B) other crimes evidence
was taken up on May 30, 2012. Following testimony and
arguments, the trial court took the matter under advisement.
On July 9, 2012, the trial court ruled that the evidence the
State sought to admit at trial was relevant and admissible.
The trial court's ruling was affirmed. State v.
Richards, 12-1063 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/17/12) (unpublished
opinion), writ denied, 13-152 (La. 3/1/13), 108
18, 2016, the State filed a "Notice of Intent Not to
Seek the Death Penalty." A jury trial commenced on April
4, 2017, following which Defendant was found guilty as
charged. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without
the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence,
to be served consecutively with any other sentence Defendant
was currently serving.
has perfected this timely appeal, wherein he asserts four
assignments of error: (1) The trial court erred in allowing
the introduction of other crimes evidence; (2) The trial
court erred in failing to grant defense counsel's
challenges for cause and in granting a state's challenge
for cause; (3) The trial court erred in releasing a potential
juror for cause on its own; and (4) The evidence submitted at
trial was insufficient to find Defendant guilty of first
degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
following reasons, we find no merit in any of Defendant's
assignments of error and affirm his conviction and sentence.
Assignment of Error Number Four.
fourth assignment of error asserts there was insufficient
evidence to support a conviction for first degree murder. We
will address Defendant's fourth assignment of error first
because should this claim have merit, the remaining
assignments of error become moot. Hudson v.
Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 101 S.Ct. 970 (1981), State
v. Hearold, 603 So.2d 731 (La.1992).
argues there were too many errors committed during the trial
to allow a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt that
he committed the murder of Mr. Falgout during the course of a
State v. Chesson, 03-606, p. 5 (La.App. 3 Cir.
10/1/03), 856 So.2d 166, 172, writ denied, 03-2913
(La. 2/13/04), 867 So.2d 686, this court stated in
considering questions of sufficiency of the evidence:
[A] reviewing court must consider the evidence presented in
the light most favorable to the prosecution and consider
whether a rational trier of fact could have concluded that
the essential elements of the offense were proven beyond a
reasonable doubt. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). The reviewing
court defers to rational credibility and evidentiary
determinations of the trier of fact. State v.
Marcantel, 00-1629 (La.4/3/02), 815 So.2d 50.
in State v. Williams, 13-497, p. 4 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/6/13), 124 So.3d 1236, 1240, writ denied, 13-2774
(La. 5/16/14), 139 So.3d 1024, this court noted:
"Evidence may be either direct or circumstantial."
State v. Jacobs, 07-887, p. 12 (La.App. 5 Cir.
5/24/11), 67 So.3d 535, 551, writ denied, 11-1753
(La.2/10/12), 80 So.3d 468, cert. denied, [566 U.S.
388], 133 S.Ct. 139, 184 L.Ed.2d 67 (2012). We note that,
whether the conviction is based on direct evidence or solely
on circumstantial evidence, the review is the same under the
Jackson v. Virginia standard. State v.
Williams, 33, 881 (La.App. 2 Cir. 9/27/00), 768 So.2d
728 (citing State v. Sutton, 436 So.2d 471
(La.1983)), writ denied, 00-99 (La.10/5/01), 798
So.2d 963. Circumstantial evidence is that where the main
fact can be inferred, using reason and common experience,
from proof of collateral facts and circumstances.
Id. Where the conviction is based on circumstantial
evidence, in order to convict, "assuming every fact to
be proved that the evidence tends to prove, in order to
convict, it must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of
innocence." La.R.S. 15:438.
First degree murder, in pertinent part, is defined as:
A. First degree murder is the killing of a human being:
(1) When the offender has specific intent to kill or to
inflict great bodily harm and is engaged in the perpetration
or attempted perpetration of aggravated kidnapping, second
degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, aggravated arson,
aggravated or forcible rape, aggravated burglary, armed
robbery, assault by drive-by shooting, first degree robbery,
second degree robbery, simple robbery, terrorism, cruelty to
juveniles, or second degree cruelty to juveniles.
La.R.S. 14:30 (at the time the offense was committed).
intent is that state of mind which exists when the
circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the
prescribed criminal consequence to follow his act or failure
to act." La.R.S. 14:10(1). "Specific intent may be
inferred from the circumstances surrounding the offense and
the conduct of the defendant." State v.
Draughn, 05-1825, pp. 7-8 (La. 1/17/07), 950 So.2d 583,
592-93, cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1012, 128 S.Ct. 537
the trial, the following testimonies and exhibits were
submitted by the State and Defendant:
Addie Bourgeois testified that in April 2009, after arriving
at Buffalo Wild Wings' parking lot in Lafayette,
Louisiana, she was mugged (as she exited her vehicle) and
robbed. She stated that even before she was outside her car,
a man approached her, punched her in the face, and stole her
purse. She described him as a light brown male, possibly
Hispanic, wearing a green polo shirt. While Ms. Bourgeois
never identified Defendant as the assailant, Todd Borel (a
detective with the Lafayette Police Department) investigated
the robbery and eventually connected Defendant to the crime.
Borel testified he obtained a video from Buffalo Wild
Wing's surveillance camera for the evening of the
robbery. The video showed Ms. Bourgeois' vehicle pulling
into the parking lot. Another vehicle pulled in right behind
her vehicle. A man exited the second car, approached Ms.
Bourgeois, struck her, and raced back to the waiting vehicle.
The detective stated the next day he learned that one of Ms.
Bourgeois' credit cards was used at a Wal-Mart store
approximately forty-five minutes after the robbery. Detective
Borel obtained Wal-Mart's surveillance video and
identified Defendant, wearing a green polo shirt, and another
man making a purchase with Ms. Bourgeois' credit card.
That same evening, the credit card was used again at a gas
station in Kaplan. A surveillance video was also obtained of
one of the men using the credit card. The gas station's
store clerk identified the man using the credit card as
Darvin Williams. Mr. Williams was picked up and questioned by
police. Mr. Williams admitted that he was with Defendant the
night Ms. Bourgeois was robbed. Mr. Williams told the
detective he was driving the vehicle that pulled up behind
Ms. Bourgeois' vehicle and it ...