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State ex rel. C.B.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 27, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF C.B.

          Appealed from the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 157834, Honorable Erwin Paul Young, III, Judge.

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

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney, DAVID M. NEWELL TOMMY J. JOHNSON Assistant District Attorneys, Counsel for Appellee.

          Before WILLIAMS, STONE, and MCCALLUM, JJ.

          STONE, J.

         The defendant, C.B., [1] was adjudicated delinquent on one count of aggravated battery in violation of La. R.S. 14:34 and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm in violation of La. R.S. 14:37.4. C.B. was ordered to serve one year in a non-secure program for aggravated battery and one year in a non-secure program for each count of aggravated assault with a firearm. The trial court ordered the dispositions for aggravated assault with a firearm to run concurrently with one another and consecutively with the disposition for aggravated battery. On appeal, C.B. argues there was insufficient evidence to adjudicate him as a delinquent and that his dispositions are excessive. [2] For the following reasons, we affirm C.B.'s adjudications and dispositions.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 25, 2017, 15 year-old C.B. was involved in a physical altercation with K.J. C.B. was arrested and subsequently charged with one count of aggravated battery in violation of La. R.S. 14:34 and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm in violation of La. R.S. 14:37.4. Thereafter, C.B. was adjudicated delinquent on all counts. On January 22, 2018, the trial court ordered C.B. be committed to the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice ("OJJ") to serve one year for aggravated battery and one year each for the two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. The trial court ordered the dispositions for aggravated assault with a firearm run concurrently with each other and consecutively with the disposition for aggravated battery. On appeal, C.B. argues the evidence was insufficient to prove he committed an aggravated battery or aggravated assault with a firearm. C.B. also argues the dispositions imposed are harsh and excessive.

         DISCUSSION

         Sufficiency of Evidence

         The standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim under Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), 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. See also State v. Carter, 42, 894 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/09/08), 974 So.2d 181, writ denied, 08-0499 (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, 05-0477 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517; State v. Dotie, 43, 819 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/14/09), 1 So.3d 833, 837, writ denied, 2009-0310 (La. 11/6/09), 21 So.3d 297.

         Where there is conflicting testimony about factual matters, the resolution of which depends upon a determination of the credibility of the witnesses, the matter is one of the weight of the evidence, not its sufficiency. State v. Speed, 43, 786 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1/14/09), 2 So.3d 582, writ denied, 09-0372 (La. 11/6/09), 21 So.3d 299. In the absence of internal contradiction or irreconcilable conflict with physical evidence, one witness's testimony, if believed by the trier of fact, is sufficient support for a requisite factual conclusion. State v. Gullette, 43, 032 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2/13/08), 975 So.2d 753. The appellate court does not assess the credibility of witnesses or reweigh evidence. State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442. Not only does the standard of review in Jackson, supra, apply to juvenile delinquency adjudicatory hearings, but our state constitution mandates that we determine, after reviewing the record evidence, whether the juvenile court was clearly wrong in its fact findings. Id.

         In order for the court to adjudicate a child delinquent, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child committed a delinquent act alleged in the petition. La. Ch. C. art. 883. In a juvenile case, the reviewing court is constitutionally compelled to review both facts and law. La. Const. art. V, § 10(A) and (B). However, the reviewing court must recognize that the juvenile judge observed the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses and was in the best position to determine credibility and weigh the evidence. State In Interest of D.R., 50, 594 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2/24/16), 188 So.3d 1116, 1120. Therefore, this Court grants great deference to the juvenile court's factual findings and credibility determinations and assessment of the weight of particular testimony. Id.

         A battery is the intentional use of force or violence upon the person of another. La. R.S. 14:33. Aggravated battery is a battery committed with a dangerous weapon. La. R.S. 14:34. A "dangerous weapon" includes any "instrumentality, which, in the manner used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm." La. R.S. 14:2(A)(3). As a matter of law, a ...


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