APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 13-5472, DIVISION
"N" HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Darren A. Allemand
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, KEVIN HICKS Bruce G.
composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Jude G. Gravois, and
Robert A. Chaisson
M. CHEHARDY CHIEF JUDGE
appeal, defendant challenges the trial court's denial of
his motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants
and the trial court's denial of his motion for mistrial.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
January 23, 2014, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted
defendant, Kevin Hicks, with the second degree murder of
Deshon Evans, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1 (count one),
and the attempted second degree murder of Jonquell Neal, in
violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and La. R.S. 14:30.1 (count two).
Further, in that same indictment, the grand jury indicted
Kevin Hicks for the attempted second degree murder of a known
juvenile (hereinafter "J.") and the attempted
second degree murder of his mother, J.A., in violation of La.
R.S. 14:27 and La. R.S. 14:30.1 (counts three and four
22, 2017, trial commenced before a twelve-person
jury. After a six-day trial, the jury found
defendant guilty as charged for the second degree murder of
Deshon Evans and the attempted second degree murder of
Jonquell Neal, but acquitted defendant on the remaining
charges of attempted second degree murder of J. and J.A. On
June 26, 2017, the trial judge sentenced defendant for second
degree murder to life imprisonment at hard labor without
benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, and,
for attempted second degree murder, to imprisonment at hard
labor for fifty years without benefit of parole, probation,
or suspension of sentence, to run concurrently. Thereafter,
defendant filed a timely notice of appeal, which was granted.
case, Kevin Hicks, defendant-herein, and his brothers, Kevias
Hicks and Kedrick Anderson, were indicted on two counts of
attempted second degree murder for their involvement in a
shooting incident that occurred on July 13, 2013, at 2800
Mount Kennedy. In that same indictment, defendant-herein,
Kevias, and Tommie Molette were charged with second degree
murder and attempted second degree murder for their
involvement in a subsequent shooting incident that occurred
on October 8, 2013, at 5923 Becker Street.
clarity and completeness in addressing defendant's
assignments of error, this opinion includes all of the
germane testimony elicited at trial regarding five shooting
incidents connected by ballistics and/or testimony to two
groups of people. The first incident occurred on June 22,
2013, when A.P. was fired on while driving his girlfriend,
J.A.'s, vehicle. Testimony reflected that A.P. was
targeted because he had been deemed a
"rat." Ballistics were not recovered from that
second incident occurred on July 13, 2013, at approximately
9:45 p.m. at the Ridgefield Apartments on Mount Kennedy Drive
in Marrero. During the Mount Kennedy incident, J., the
two-year-old son of A.P. and J.A., was shot in the chest.
J.A., the child's mother, testified that, "Kevias
[Hicks'] face was the face in the front that I saw"
shooting at her son and her that night. J.A. also saw Kedrick
Anderson with a "big gun" that night. J.A. stated
that she did not see Kevin Hicks that night. Ballistics
matched spent 9-mm shell casings recovered from the Mount
Kennedy scene to two later shootings: the Bridge shooting and
the Becker Street shooting.
third incident was a shooting that occurred on the Crescent
City Connection on July 16, 2013. During that incident,
Kevias Hicks was shot by someone riding in a nearby vehicle.
Neither Kevias nor Kedrick Anderson, who was also in the car,
would identify the assailant. However, J.A. testified that,
at some point, A.P. told her that he and Kevias were shooting
at each other on the "bridge." A spent 9-mm shell
casing found inside the Hicks' vehicle matched the
ballistics of casings found at the Mount Kennedy and Becker
fourth incident, which occurred on August 12, 2013, at the
Beechgrove Apartments in Westwego, Aubrieon Davis, who is the
mother of Kedrick Anderson's son, was fired upon by A.P.
while she was driving. Subsequently, A.P. pled guilty to
aggravated assault with a firearm on Aubrieon Davis for that
incident. Ballistics from the .40 caliber casing recovered at
Beechgrove matched a casing found in the roadway after the
Bridge shooting on July 16, 2013.
the fifth shooting event occurred on October 8, 2013, at 5923
Becker Street in Marrero. The surviving victim, Jonquell
Neal, testified that he and his friend, Deshon Evans, were
recording rap music in a studio at Deshon's house, when
they heard a knock at the front door. Evans opened the door
to Kevias Hicks, Tommie Molette, and defendant-herein. Neal
remembered that when Kevias came to the door, he said
something about running from another shooting where a child
had been shot. After the men talked for a little while, they
decided to record a song in Deshon's studio.
they had been rapping and recording for a while in the
studio, Neal heard Kevias say that he was a "god"
and that "your life is in my hands." Neal was
concerned but continued writing his song. When he heard a
loud sound, Neal thought it was the music at first. But when
Neal looked up, Evans' blood was all over him, and Evans
was dead. Neal saw Kevias, Molette, and defendant-herein
shooting in Evans' direction.
testified that, after he was shot, he picked up Evans'
firearm from the floor, and put it in his lap. When
defendant-herein tried to shoot him, Neal raised Evans'
weapon, "let off a shot," and defendant-herein
left. Neal stated that more than twenty-five or thirty shots
night, Neal received four gunshot wounds in his shoulder,
thigh, and "feet." Immediately after the shooting,
Neal positively identified Kevias, Molette, and
defendant-herein as the shooters from photographic lineups.
Neal further reported in his statement at the hospital to
Sergeant Gary Barteet of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's
Office ("JPSO") that Kevias was shooting a 9-mm
Smith and Wesson, that defendant-herein was using a 9-mm
Beretta, and that Molette was using a .40 caliber Colt. At
trial, Neal testified that he was "100% sure" that
Kevias, Molette, and defendant-herein were the individuals
who shot Evans and him that night.
Susan Garcia of the Jefferson Parish Forensic Center, who was
accepted as an expert in the field of forensic pathology,
conducted the autopsy on Deshon Evans. She explained that
Deshon Evans' cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds,
including a lethal wound to the head, and that his manner of
death was homicide.
Agent William Charles Williams of the FBI was accepted as an
expert in the field of historical cell site analysis. Agent
Williams analyzed historical records for two phone numbers -
one associated with defendant-herein and one associated with
Molette - for the early morning hours of October 8, 2013.
According to Agent Williams, both phones utilized the
cellular phone tower nearest to 5932 Becker Street numerous
times between 1:04 a.m. and 1:41 a.m. Williams testified that
further data was consistent with both phones leaving the area
around Becker, traveling along the Westbank Expressway, over
the Mississippi River via the Crescent City Connection, and
traveling north to the New Orleans East area. Williams
testified that both phones were utilizing the nearest tower
to 7840 Mills Avenue in New Orleans East between 2:52 a.m.
and 2:54 a.m. The Mills Avenue address in New Orleans is
associated with defendant's mother.
order to connect the incidents, the State presented evidence
regarding spent cartridge casings recovered at the scenes of
the Mount Kennedy, the Beechgrove, the Bridge, and the Becker
Street shootings. JPSO Deputy Jené Rauch, who is the
supervisor of the firearms and tool mark section for the JPSO
Crime Lab, was accepted as an expert in the field of firearm
and tool mark examination.
Rauch testified that, after the July 13, 2013 Mount Kennedy
shooting, fourteen casings that were fired "in the
same" 9-mm weapon were recovered. Further, 2 casings
were recovered that had been fired from a second 9- mm
firearm. Also, eight 7.62 by 39-mm caliber casings were
recovered that were all fired "in the same weapon."
Finally, one .45 caliber casing was found on the scene.
Rauch testified that, after the July 16, 2013 shooting on the
Westbank Expressway, two casings were recovered: a 9-mm
casing recovered from inside of the Hicks' vehicle and a
.40 caliber casing recovered from the roadway of the
Expressway. Ballistics revealed that the .40 caliber casing
at Beechgrove was fired from the same .40 caliber pistol used
during the shooting on the Westbank Expressway that injured
Rauch further testified that, after the Becker Street
shooting in October 2013, eight 9-mm casings were recovered
that had been fired from the same 9-mm pistol. Next, four
9-mm casings were recovered that had been fired from a second
9-mm pistol. Also, thirteen casings fired from a .40 caliber
pistol were recovered. Finally, a .45 caliber Taurus pistol
was recovered from the scene but ballistics confirmed that it
was damaged by a bullet during the shooting, which prevented
it from firing that night.
Rauch testified that the ballistics database used by law
enforcement connected one 9-mm firearm to the shootings at
Mount Kennedy on July 13, 2013; on the Crescent City
Connection Bridge on July 16, 2013; on Becker Street on
October 8, 2013; and at the scene of a homicide at I-10 and
Clearview Parkway on December 30, 2013. At Mount Kennedy,
fourteen 9-mm rounds were shot from this weapon. After the
Bridge shooting, one expended 9-mm casing from this weapon
was found on the floor of the interior of the vehicle driven
by the Hicks brothers that night. At Becker Street, eight
9-mm rounds were shot from this weapon. Finally, three
casings fired from this weapon were found at the
Clearview/I-10 homicide but further investigation revealed
that the December homicide was not linked to the instant
Deputy Chief Timothy Scanlan, who is the Commander of the
Technical Services Bureau, was accepted as an expert in the
fields of firearms and tool mark examination, blood stain
pattern analysis, and crime scene reconstruction. Deputy
Chief Scanlan investigated the Mount Kennedy and Becker
Street crime scenes and formulated conclusions. Deputy Chief
Scanlan asserted that Jonquell Neal's testimony was
consistent with the cartridge case distribution and the
angles of fire at the Becker Street crime scene. He also
asserted that after reviewing reports of the Mount Kennedy
scene, what he found there was consistent with the
description of events provided by J.A.
hearing the testimony and evidence, the twelve-person jury
found defendant-herein guilty of the second degree murder of
Deshon Evans and the attempted second degree murder of
Jonquell Neal, but not guilty of the attempted second degree
murder of J. and J.A. Defendant-herein appeals his
appeal, defendant raises three assignments of error: first, the
trial court erred in denying his motion to sever counts;
second, the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever
defendants; and third, the trial court erred in denying the
motion for mistrial after the witness' reference to
defendant's exercise of his post-arrest right to remain
to Sever Counts/Offenses
argues that the trial judge erred by denying the Motion to
Sever Counts because the crimes were different since the
Becker Street shootings involved violence between adult
males, but the Mount Kennedy shootings involved violence
directed at a woman and child. Defendant, who concedes that
he was acquitted of the Mount Kennedy shootings, argues that
the evidence surrounding that shooting was extremely
prejudicial, and, therefore, should have been severed in the
interest of justice.
State responds that the offenses were properly joined under
La. C.Cr.P. art. 493, in that they were of the same or
similar character given that they were all shootings. The
State also notes that the offenses were linked because the
defendants obtained access to the Becker Street residence by
claiming to be on the run from the Mount Kennedy shooting and
ballistics links one of the 9-mm guns used at Becker Street
to the Mount Kennedy shootings. The State further points out
that defendant has not met his "heavy burden" of
showing prejudice, as his acquittal of the Mount Kennedy
shootings indicates that the jury was able to set aside its
emotions and evaluate each offense on its own merits.
Finally, the State asserts that evidence of the Mount Kennedy
shootings and other incidents related to the "beef"
between A.P. and the Hicks brothers completes the events
leading to the Becker Street shootings and would have been
admissible at the trial of both crimes.
pre-trial Motion to Sever the Counts, defendant argued that
the defendants and the counts should be severed because a
large amount of "very convoluted" evidence, which
applied to some defendants but not all of them, would be very
difficult for a jury to understand.
hearing, the trial judge stated that he was not confused with
regard to the charges in the indictment, and he did not see
how a jury would be confused. He also stated that there were
two separate and distinct dates, July 13, 2013 and October 8,
2013, for the ...