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, TOMMIE C. MOLETTE, A.K.A.
TUCKER MOLETTE Cynthia K. Meyer
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.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
January 23, 2014, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted
defendant, Tommie C. Molette a/k/a Tucker Molette, for 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).
22, 2017, trial commenced before a twelve-person
jury. After a six-day trial, the jury found
defendant guilty as charged on both counts. 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, Tommie Molette, defendant-herein, is charged with
second degree murder and attempted second degree murder for
his involvement in a shooting incident that occurred on
October 8, 2013 at 5923 Becker Street. The Hicks brothers -
Kevin and Kevias - were also charged with second degree
murder and attempted second degree murder for their
involvement in the Becker Street incident.
same indictment, the grand jury also charged the Hicks and,
their younger brother, Kedrick Anderson, with two counts of
attempted second degree murder for their involvement in
another shooting incident that occurred on July 13, 2013, at
2800 Mount Kennedy. Although defendant-herein was only
indicted for the October Becker Street shootings, he and the
Hicks brothers were tried at the same time.
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 only shooting pertinent to defendant-herein 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 Kevin and Kevias Hicks, and
defendant-herein, Tommie Molette. 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
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 Kevin, Kevias, and defendant-herein
shooting in Evans' direction. Neal saw defendant-herein
shoot him in the leg.
testified that, after he was shot, he picked up Evans'
firearm from the floor, and put it in his lap. When Kevin
tried to shoot him, Neal raised Evans' weapon, "let
off a shot," and Kevin left. Neal stated that more than
twenty-five or thirty shots were fired.
night, Neal received four gunshot wounds in his shoulder,
thigh, and "feet." Immediately after the shooting,
Neal positively identified Kevin, Kevias, and
defendant-herein as the shooters in 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 Kevin was using a 9-mm Beretta, and
that defendant-herein was using a .40 caliber Colt. At trial,
Neal testified that he was "100% sure" that Kevin,
Kevias, 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 Kevin Hicks and one associated with
defendant-herein - 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 the Hicks' 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
Crescent City Connection Bridge, 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
Bridge. Ballistics revealed that the .40 caliber casing at
Beechgrove was fired from the same .40 caliber pistol used
during the shooting on the Bridge that injured Kevias Hicks.
Rauch further testified that, after the Becker Street
shootings in October of 2013, eight 9-mm casings were
recovered that were fired from the same 9-mm pistol. Next,
four 9-mm casings were recovered that were fired from a
second 9-mm pistol. Further, 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 the same 9-mm firearm to four
shootings: Mount Kennedy on July 13, 2013; the Bridge
Shooting on July 16, 2013; the Becker Street shooting on
October 8, 2013; and 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 crimes.
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. Defendant-herein appeals his convictions.
appeal, defendant raises four assignments of error: first,
the trial court erred in denying the motion to sever; second,
the trial court erred in denying the re-urged motion to sever
and motion to quash; third, the trial court erred in denying
the re-urged motion to quash and motion for ...