Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 328, 487 Honorable
John D. Mosely, Jr., Judge.
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward K. Bauman Counsel for
DEMARCUS BROWN, II Pro Se.
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee.
J. JOHNSON BRITNEY A. GREEN Assistant District Attorneys.
BROWN, WILLIAMS, and McCALLUM, JJ.
Kelvin Demarcus Brown, II, was charged by grand jury
indictment with second degree murder, in violation of La.
R.S. 14:30.1. After a bench trial, Defendant was found guilty
as charged and sentenced to life imprisonment without the
benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. On
appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence
and argues that the trial court erred in allowing certain La.
C.E. art. 404(B) evidence and impermissible hearsay to be
admitted at trial. Defendant has also filed a pro se brief
raising additional assignments of error. For the following
reasons, Defendant's conviction and sentence are
early hours of December 6, 2014, Officer Kevin Duck of the
Shreveport Police Department was dispatched to a residence at
2903 Oak Forest Lane, Shreveport, Louisiana. Upon arriving at
the scene, Officer Duck made contact with the victim, Alicia
West, who had received multiple knife wounds to her body and
throat. While they were waiting for an ambulance, Ms. West
advised Officer Duck that she had been attacked by Defendant.
Ms. West died shortly after her arrival at the hospital.
January 22, 2015, Defendant was charged by grand jury
indictment with the first degree murder of Alicia West. An
amended indictment was filed on March 31, 2015, reducing the
charge to second degree murder. At arraignment, Defendant
pled not guilty and elected to have a jury trial. On March
15, 2017, however, Defendant waived his right to a jury trial
and opted for a trial by judge.
bench trial commenced on October 30, 2017. Exa Bloomer, the
victim's mother, testified that she was asleep at her
daughter's house because Ms. Bloomer was babysitting her
grandson on December 6, 2014. Around 4:00 a.m. that morning,
Ms. Bloomer woke up to the sound of water running outside.
Ms. Bloomer called Ms. West, who was at work, and told her
that someone had turned the water on outside. Ms. West
advised her mother not to go outside and said that she would
call the police first. Ms. Bloomer got up and waited until
she saw Ms. West's vehicle pull into the driveway. Ms.
Bloomer testified that she suddenly heard Ms. West screaming.
Ms. Bloomer went outside into the carport and saw Defendant
on top of her daughter's back. Ms. Bloomer stated that
the carport light was on, and she recognized Defendant
because he and Ms. West had previously dated. Defendant
jumped up when he saw Ms. Bloomer and looked directly at her.
Defendant then fled into a wooded area near the home. Ms.
West stood up but was bleeding profusely, and she fell back
toward her vehicle. The police arrived shortly thereafter.
Ms. Bloomer's grandson appeared at the carport door and
began screaming at the sight of his mother's bleeding
body. Ms. Bloomer took her grandson back into the house as
instructed by officers and tried to console him. After the
incident, Ms. Bloomer was interviewed by the police. She
identified Defendant in open court as the man who attacked
cross-examination, Ms. Bloomer admitted that she was unable
to pick Defendant out of a photographic lineup during her
interview with the police. Ms. Bloomer is completely blind in
her right eye, but she said that she was standing
approximately four feet from Defendant when he attacked her
daughter and could clearly see that the assailant was
Bradley testified that she lives in Coushatta, Louisiana, and
has known Defendant since 2007 when they were both at
Northwestern State University. On December 6, 2014, Defendant
came to the home she shared with an aunt early in the morning
and asked if he could stay there for a few hours before he
went to visit his child. Ms. Bradley got her aunt's
permission for Defendant to stay, and Defendant took a nap in
Ms. Bradley's room before leaving at about 9:00 a.m.
Before leaving, Defendant told Ms. Bradley that if anyone
came looking for him, she was to tell them that he had been
with her. At the time, Ms. Bradley did not know what
Defendant was referring to. She noted that it was not unusual
for Defendant to arrive unannounced at her home, but it was
not typical for him to come to her home that early in the
morning. Defendant returned to Ms. Bradley's home later
that afternoon when several other people were present. Ms.
Bradley testified that Defendant had conversations with
people and played with her niece. According to Ms. Bradley,
Defendant did not appear to be worried and told her that he
would return the following day to eat. Ms. Bradley got a text
from a friend who is a police officer in Natchitoches later
that evening notifying her that Defendant had been arrested
for murder. Ms. Bradley contacted the police after she
realized that defendant had been to her house that day.
Defendant had left a green army-type bag at Ms. Bradley's
home, which the police collected as possible evidence. Ms.
Bradley testified that she thought the bag only contained a
pair of boxers and a muscle shirt.
Morgan testified that she met Defendant when they were both
employed at the Horseshoe Casino in 2013. Ms. Morgan and
Defendant became friends while working together, but she had
not been in contact with Brown for a month or two prior to
December 6, 2014. Ms. Morgan testified that on that morning,
she had called Defendant around 2:00 a.m. while she was
headed home because she wanted to be on the phone with
someone until she was safely in her home. Defendant called
her back at 5:00 a.m., but she did not answer. Around 7:00
a.m., Ms. Morgan called Defendant a second time, and he
sounded sleepy. Ms. Morgan testified that she did not see
Defendant on December 6, 2014. Ms. Morgan testified that she
did not know the victim but one her coworkers did. Ms. Morgan
learned of Alicia. West's death that morning when Ms.
Morgan got to work.
John Madjerick, a crime scene investigator with the
Shreveport Police Department, testified that he was
dispatched to Ms. West's home to collect evidence. Upon
his arrival at the scene, Cpl. Madjerick made contact with
Detective Joseph Brown to obtain a brief summary of the
events and to do a walk-through of the scene. Ms. West had
already been transported to the hospital prior to Cpl.
Madjerick's arrival. Cpl. Madjerick took photographs of
the scene, which he identified in open court. Ms. West's
vehicle was at the scene, and the photographs depict her
blood on the driveway. Ms. West's wig and a pool of her
blood were located toward the rear of her vehicle, indicating
the spot where she collapsed before being transported to the
hospital. While photographing the home's exterior, Cpl.
Madjerick observed an outside spigot and noted wet ground
beneath it, indicating that it had recently been used. A
black skullcap found in the grass near the corner of the home
was collected and sent to the North Louisiana Crime Lab for
of blood found near the skullcap traveled toward the partial
chain link fence on the side of the home. Cpl. Madjerick
testified that the blood found at the scene continued from
the grassy area near the partial chain link fence and ended
at the driveway where Ms. West collapsed and the blood
pooled. A portion of a window screen had been cut, and Cpl.
Madjerick recovered a latent fingerprint from the window. The
print was later determined to be of non-comparison value. No
other fingerprints were recovered from the scene.
Madjerick also took photographs of Ms. West after she died,
which he also identified in open court. The photos show the
numerous wounds suffered by the victim during the attack and
several of her tattoos, including a tattoo of Brown's
full name, "Kelvin D. Brown, II," above her pubis.
Michalik, an expert in forensic DNA analysis, performed a DNA
analysis on the following items recovered from the scene: the
black skullcap, a bloodstain card from the victim, reference
swabs taken from Defendant, and a swab taken from the surface
of a knife blade. Ms. Michalik completed one report in April
2015, but wrote a second report in June 2015 when additional
evidence was analyzed. She stated that a partial Y-chromosome
profile was found on suspected blood swabbed from the black
skullcap, indicating that the cap had been worn by a man of
Defendant's paternal lineage at some point. Due to the
incomplete nature of the partial profile, Ms. Michalik was
unable to definitively match it to Defendant; however, the
partial profile was consistent with Defendant's DNA
Cooks testified that he knew Defendant through Alicia West
and through serving in the National Guard with Defendant
during their annual training in June of 2014. Cooks met Ms.
West in February of 2014 when they both worked at the El
Dorado Casino. Cooks and Ms. West began dating in November
2014, and, while they were dating, Defendant would frequently
visit Ms. West's home unannounced late at night or early
in the morning. Defendant would bang on the doors and
windows, scream outside, and demand that Ms. West answer the
door. Cooks testified that Ms. West appeared frightened
during these incidents. Ms. West told Cooks that she did not
understand why Defendant kept coming to her home, and that
she obtained a restraining order against Defendant. Each
incident lasted between 30 minutes and an hour. Defendant
contacted Cooks via Facebook Messenger in November 2014 and
informed him that Defendant was no longer interested in
dating Ms. West but he still wanted to be in her life. In the
messages, Defendant referred to pending charges of stalking
and cyberstalking Ms. West had filed against him. Defendant
accused Ms. West of making up the allegations and told Cooks
to tell Ms. West to drop the charges. Defendant further
messaged, "[Alicia West] is the main reason I spent five
days in prison." Defendant also inquired whether Ms.
West blamed him for setting a house fire.
testified that he saw Ms. West on December 6, 2014, at
approximately 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. while she was working at the
Margaritaville Casino. Ms. West told him that she was going
out with friends for a drink after work. Cooks saw Ms. West
again shortly before she left work, and she appeared frantic
because her home alarm was going off. Cooks was contacted by
the police later that morning and was told of Ms. West's
Duck testified that he was dispatched to Ms. West's home
on December 6, 2014, at 4:32 a.m. in response to a call from
a lady wanting her water spigots fingerprinted. When he
initially received the call, there was no information that
there had been an assault. Upon arriving at the scene,
Officer Duck saw Ms. West's son first, then her mother.
Officer Duck saw Ms. West coming from around the home's
east side, stumbling toward him and clutching her neck.
Officer Duck testified that when the victim fell to the
ground, he could see her spinal cord through the wound in the
front of her neck. Officer Duck asked Ms. West who attacked
her, and she told him twice that it was Kelvin Brown. He also
asked her what weapon her attacker used, and her response was
from Officer Duck's police vehicle camera was admitted
into evidence and played at trial. In the video, Ms. West can
be heard telling Officer Duck that she was attacked by
Defendant with a knife. Officer Duck can also be heard
telling the ambulance to hurry and instructing the
victim's mother and son to go back inside to preserve the
crime scene. Officer Duck begins to pray with Ms. West prior
to the arrival of emergency services. Ms. West's mother
can also be heard relaying what had occurred to Officer Duck.
When asked whether she saw Defendant, Ms. West's mother
stated, "I saw a person running." She further
stated that she didn't "really, really see
him." Officer Duck testified at trial that he believed
what Ms. West's mother meant was that she could not see
Defendant clearly as he ran away toward the woods, as she had
previously told him that she was able to see it was Defendant
when she saw him under the carport.
Davis Alvarez, a friend of the victim's, testified that
Ms. West introduced her to Defendant when all three worked at
Sam's Town Casino about ten months to a year before Ms.
West's death. Ms. Alvarez stated that Ms. West was not
happy in her relationship with Defendant, and that Ms. West
was trying to obtain a restraining order against him. Ms.
West would occasionally stay at Ms. Alvarez's home
because Ms. West did not feel safe at her own home. Ms.
Alvarez testified that Defendant and Ms. West argued at work
in front of her. Ms. Alvarez also loaned Ms. West a handgun
for protection. According to Ms. Alvarez, Ms. West had no
idea what Defendant might do, and she was scared for her own
safety and that of her son.
Giles testified that she had previously been harassed by
Defendant in February 2014 when both were serving in the
National Guard. At the time, Ms. Giles was a private, and
Defendant was the second lieutenant in charge of her unit.
Ms. Giles stated that Defendant made frequent lewd and
unwanted advances, even in the presence of others, texted
her, and called her "sweetie." On one occasion,
Defendant had blisters on his feet and asked Ms. Giles to
nurse him back to health. Ms. Giles advised him to seek aid
from a medic, but Defendant insisted that he wanted her
assistance. Defendant also made insinuations that Ms. Giles
owed him something as if he expected her to actually tend to
his injuries. Ms. Giles informed another guardsman, who
reported the incident on her behalf, and Ms. Giles filed a
sexual harassment complaint. Ms. Giles did not see Defendant
again after she filed the complaint.
Betsy Huey Pickett of the Shreveport Police Department
testified that she was dispatched to Ms. West's home at
11:08 a.m. on November 2, 2014, in response to a stalking
complaint. Ms. West informed Cpl. Pickett that she went
outside and saw her water spigot running although she had not
turned it on. Cpl. Pickett observed that the ground beneath
the spigot was very muddy as if the tap had been on for quite
some time. Cpl. Pickett advised Ms. West to obtain a
restraining order against her stalker, to stay with family or
friends, or to have someone stay with her so she would not be
alone. Ms. West appeared very distressed and complained that
the stalking was an ongoing problem.
Shannon Mack with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, an
expert in historical cell phone data analysis, testified that
she analyzed the cell phone records provided by AT&T
Wireless. Lt. Mack testified that cell phone number
(318) 470-xxxx belonged to Ms. West and (318) 519-xxxx
belonged to Defendant. Utilizing the records provided by
AT&T and CellHawk software, Lt. Mack was able to
determine that Defendant's cell phone was within 5, 000
meters of the crime scene at 3:54 a.m. on the morning of
December 6, 2014. For comparison, Lt. Mack stated that the
cell phone records showed that Ms. West's cell phone was
also within 5, 000 meters of the crime scene at the time of
Lee Scott, now retired from the Shreveport Police Department,
testified that he met Ms. West when she filed a complaint
against Defendant on November 4, 2014. At that time, Ofc.
Scott was a supervisor with the Vice Unit. Ms. West reported
that Defendant, without her consent, had placed Ms.
West's cell phone number and photographs of her on
Backpage.com, which is an escort web service used for
prostitution. Defendant had also posted the same photographs
on his Facebook page. According to Ofc. Scott, the
photographs were intimate and provocative in nature, and Ms.
West was very concerned. Ms. West related to Ofc. Scott that
she was receiving phone calls from men seeking sexual favors.
Ofc. Scott verified that the photographs on Defendant's
Facebook page were the same as those on Backpage.com. Ofc.
Scott then called Defendant, verbally advised him of his
Miranda rights, and asked him about the photographs.
Defendant denied all the accusations. Ofc. Scott had Ms. West
call Defendant to advise him that she did not want to be
contacted by him anymore. Ofc. Scott was present when Ms.
West called Defendant, and as soon as Ms. West got off the
phone with Defendant, he called her despite being asked not
to. Ofc. Scott sought a warrant for Defendant's arrest.
Joseph Brown, now retired from the Shreveport Police
Department, was the lead investigator in Ms. West's
death. Early in the morning of December 6, 2014, Brown was
notified by dispatch of a stabbing at 2903 Oak Forest. Brown
arrived at the home, made contact with the initial responding
officers and was advised of Ms. West's dying declaration
naming Defendant as her attacker. He also did a quick
walk-through of the scene. Brown determined that the attack
occurred a few minutes prior to 4:25 a.m. Brown obtained an
arrest warrant for Defendant, who turned himself in the
following afternoon. Defendant was advised of his
Miranda rights, which he waived. During his
interview, Defendant stated that at 2:40 a.m. on the morning
of the attack, he received a call from Ebony Morgan.
Thereafter, between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m., he met Ms. Morgan at
the Save-A-Lot on Lakeshore Drive, and they had sex in the
parking lot. At approximately 4:10 a.m., Defendant left Ms.
Morgan and traveled to Natchitoches, Louisiana. Brown
obtained Defendant's cell phone records pursuant to a
search warrant and determined that the story that Defendant
had given regarding his location at certain times the morning
of the attack conflicted with his cell phone records.
Defendant's cell phone records revealed that, between
4:00 and 5:17 a.m., Defendant's phone was inactive (which
means that the phone's physical location could not be
determined for that period). The cell phone records revealed
that at 5:17 a.m., when Defendant made a call to Ms. Morgan,
he was still in Shreveport, not in Natchitoches as he had
Shonda Holmes testified that she works with the Shreveport
Police Department's Domestic Violence Unit. Det. Holmes
came in contact with Ms. West in November and December of
2014 when Ms. West accused Defendant of stalking and
cyberstalking. Det. Holmes interviewed Ms. West on November
6, 2014. Ms. West related that Defendant was coming to her
home unannounced, sending her text messages, stalking her,
and showing up at her workplace. Det. Holmes obtained copies
of the text messages and a voicemail Defendant left Ms. West.
Det. Holmes noted that only one of the texts was from Ms.
West, and it was a request by Ms. West to Defendant asking
him to leave her alone. The messages from Defendant
communicated that he was waiting outside Ms. West's home
on several occasions, with questions as to whether a man was
with her and whether she was okay.
was arrested by Lee Scott and interviewed by Det. Holmes on
November 6, 2014. Portions of Det. Holmes' interview with
Defendant were played at trial. In the recording, Defendant
was advised of his Miranda rights. Defendant stated
that he understood his rights and wished to make a statement.
Brown told Det. Holmes that he and Ms. West had been dating
since October of the previous year but had broken up.
Defendant stated that Ms. West was communicating with him
through a third party and denied attempting to contact her.
Defendant admitted, however, that he texted her despite the
break-up because it has worked in the past, i.e., they would
get back together. Defendant was texting Ms. West that he was
outside her house despite not being invited to her home on a
given day. According to Defendant, he was "always
invited." He also went to her ...