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State v. Bibbins

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

October 24, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
JOHNQUELL BIBBINS

          APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 523-972, SECTION "F" Honorable Robin D. Pittman, Judge

         Leon Cannizzaro DISTRICT ATTORNEY Donna Andrieu, Chief of Appeals ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY Michael Danon ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY Irena Zajickova ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY PARISH OF ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.

          Sherry Watters COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

          Court composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Paula A. Brown

          Daniel L. Dysart Judge.

         Defendant, Johnquell Bibbins, appeals his conviction of second degree battery and the sentence imposed. After our review of the record, and for the reasons that follow, we affirm both the conviction and the sentence.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         By bill of information dated March 13, 2015, Mr. Bibbins was charged with the January 3, 2015 second degree battery of Keith McGuire. At his arraignment on April 8, 2015, Mr. Bibbins pleaded not guilty. At the preliminary hearing, the trial court denied Mr. Bibbins' motion to suppress identification, found probable cause to substantiate the charge against Mr. Bibbins, and set a trial date for June 17, 2015. The matter was continued numerous times (at the requests of both the State and Mr. Bibbins).

         Mr. Bibbins was tried before a six member jury on March 13-14, 2017 and was unanimously found guilty of the charge. He filed a Motion for New Trial, which was denied on April 17, 2017. Mr. Bibbins then waived the sentencing delays and was sentenced on April 21, 2017 to five years at hard labor with credit for time served. At that time, the State filed a multiple bill of information, and on October 5, 2017, Mr. Bibbins was adjudicated a second felony offender. The trial court vacated his original sentence and re-sentenced him to ten years at hard labor without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence.

         This appeal followed.

         Errors Patent

         We have reviewed the record for errors patent and found none. See State v. Lambert, 15-0886, p. 5 n.6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1/20/16), 186 So.3d 728, 733, writ denied, 16-0335 (La. 2/17/17), and cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 92, 199 L.Ed.2d 187 (2017).

         DISCUSSION

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER 1

         In his first assignment of error, Mr. Bibbins contends that there was insufficient evidence adduced at trial to warrant his conviction of second degree battery, a violation of La. R.S. 14:34.1 A, which defines second degree battery as "a battery when the offender intentionally inflicts serious bodily injury . . . ." More particularly, Mr. Bibbins maintains that the State failed to prove the element of "serious bodily injury." Mr. Bibbins further argues that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not act in self-defense.

         Our jurisprudence on the applicable standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence challenges is well-settled. We reiterated that standard in State v. Rapp, 14-0633, pp. 5-6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/18/15), 161 So.3d 103, 108, quoting State v. Marcantel, 00-1629, p. 8 (La. 4/3/02), 815 So.2d 50, 55:

The standard of review for the sufficiency of the evidence to uphold a conviction is whether or not, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could conclude that the State proved the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. See LSA- C.Cr.P. art. 821; State v. Hampton, 98-0331, p. 13 (La. 4/23/99), 750 So.2d 867, 880, cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1007, 120 S.Ct. 504, 145 L.Ed.2d 390 (1999).

         "[A] reviewing court is not called upon to decide whether it believes the witnesses or whether the conviction is contrary to the weight of the evidence. State v. Smith, 600 So.2d 1319, 1324 (La.1992)." State v. Watkins, 13-1248, p. 13 (La.App. 4 Cir. 8/6/14), 146 So.3d 294, 303, quoting State v. Huckabay, 00-1082, p. 32 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/6/02), 809 So.2d 1093, 1111. To the contrary, "the touchstone of Jackson v. Virginia [443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781 (1979)] is rationality . . .[;] 'irrational decisions to convict will be overturned, rational decisions to convict will be upheld, and the actual fact finder's discretion will be impinged upon only to the extent necessary to guarantee the fundamental protection of due process of law.'" State v. Alexis, 14-0327, p. 6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/3/14), 157 So.3d 775, 778, quoting State v. Wilson, 09-0304, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/17/10), 68 So.3d 1031, 1033 (internal citations omitted).

         As this Court explained in State v. Landry, 03-1671, pp. 6-7 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/31/04), 871 So.2d 1235, 1238-39:

In a second-degree battery conviction, the State is required to prove the offender committed a battery without the consent of the victim and that he intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury. In second-degree battery cases, the offense requires proof of a specific intent to inflict "serious bodily harm. Serious bodily injury is defined as injury that involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, or protracted and obvious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death. Specific intent is defined as that state of mind that exists when the circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act. Therefore, the elements of second-degree battery are: (1) the intentional use of force or violence upon the person of another, (2) without the consent of the victim, (3) when the offender has the specific intent to inflict serious bodily injury.
The term "extreme physical pain" as used in the statute refers to "a condition which most people of common intelligence can understand; it is considered subjective in nature and susceptible to interpretation."

Id. (Internal footnotes omitted).

         The evidence in this matter reflects that, on January 3, 2015, Mr. Bibbins struck the victim, Keith McGuire, who was at a yard sale, which caused Mr. McGuire to suffer a broken jaw, requiring surgery at Tulane Medical Center. Mr. Bibbins does not dispute this fact, but argues that the injury does not constitute "serious bodily injury" as contemplated by La. R.S. 14: 14:34.1 and that the State failed to prove that he did not act in self-defense. We have carefully reviewed the record in this matter and find that neither of Mr. Bibbins' contentions have merit.

         Serious bodily injury

         As noted, "La. R.S. 14:34.1 A, requires a showing that a defendant 'intentionally inflict[ed] serious bodily injury,' which is defined to include 'unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement.'" State v. Miner, 14-0939, p. 9 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/11/15), 163 So.3d 132, 138, writ denied, 15-0651 (La. 2/26/16), 187 So.3d 466. Relying heavily on the case of State v. Helou, 02-2302 (La. 10/23/03), 857 So.2d 1024, and to a lesser degree on State v. Broussard, 09-1012 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/7/10), 33 So.3d 1036, Mr. Bibbins maintains that he "did not inflict serious bodily injury on Mr. McGuire," noting a lack of medical testimony and a lack of unconsciousness or "protracted or extreme injury." He point to the fact that the incident was "a single, brief encounter." He contends that a lesser verdict of simple battery was warranted under the circumstances of this case.

         Helou involved an altercation in which the victim was struck in the nose by the defendant and was treated for a bloody nose. While the defendant was charged with and convicted of second degree battery in the trial court (a ruling which was set aside by Third Circuit), the Louisiana Supreme Court vacated the conviction and entered a conviction of simple battery. In doing so, the Court reviewed several cases on the issue of what constitutes "serious bodily injury," and found that "a punch in the nose, without more evidence, is sufficient to support a conviction of second degree battery." Id., 02-2302, p. 8, 857 So.2d at 1029. The Helou Court noted the following:

Our jurisprudence demonstrates many cases where the State proved the "serious bodily injury" element of second degree battery. Some examples are: 1) State v. Abercrumbia, 412 So.2d 1027 (La.1982), where the defendant hit the victim with boards across his head, neck, and arm, causing a "deep cut over his right eye;" 2) State v. Robertson, 98-0883 (La.App. 3d Cir.12/9/98), 723 So.2d 500, writ denied, 99-0658 (La.6/25/99), 745 So.2d 1187, where the defendant knocked the victim to the ground and repeatedly kicked and hit her until she "kind of lost her senses for a minute;" the victim had bruises and contusions over the entire extent of her body, which left significant scars and lacerations on her nose; and 3) State v. Robinson, 549 So.2d 1282, 1285 (La.App. 3d Cir.1989), where the defendant stabbed the victim twice with a large, folding knife.

Id., 02-2302, pp. 6-7, 857 So.2d at 1028.

         The Broussard case involved an altercation, following which the victim was seen with "fresh cuts and severe bruising to the face" caused by her boyfriend. Id., 09-1012, p. 4, 33 So.3d at 1038. Finding that the "State failed to prove [the victim] suffered extreme physical pain" the Court concluded that the State likewise "failed to prove that Defendant committed second degree battery" and entered a conviction of the lesser offense of simple battery. Id., p. 8, 33 So.3d at 1040.

         In State v. Jackson, 02-1250 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/5/03), 838 So.2d 841, a case involving injuries similar to those in this case, a conviction of second degree battery was affirmed. There, the court found that the State established the element of "serious bodily injury" through the victim's medical records which reflected dislocated jaw for which the victim received various pain medications, underwent surgery to repair the injury, and experienced pain. Additionally, the victim was unable to chew or bite down for several weeks following the incident.

         In the instant matter, Mr. McGuire testified that Mr. Bibbins "ran up and swung on him," hitting the victim in the face and fracturing his jaw. Immediately after the incident, Mr. McGuire went home but later sought medical attention after he experienced pain when he tried to eat. He was then hospitalized and underwent surgery to repair his fractured jaw. Moreover, unlike Helou and Broussard, here, the State introduced the victim's medical records, which verified the necessity of corrective surgery, the administration of prescription IV pain medication, hospitalization and recovery. Additionally, Mr. McGuire testified about the pain in his jaw and how it prevented him from eating.

         The terms "extreme physical pain" as used in the statute refers to "a condition which most people of common intelligence can understand . . ." State v. Legendre, 522 So.2d 1249, 1251 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1988), quoting State v. Thompson, 399 So.2d 1161, 1168 (La.1981). A fractured jaw, requiring hospitalization and corrective surgery, as well as the administration of intravenous pain medication during the hospitalization, would certainly meet the statutorily required element of "extreme physical pain" to those of even "common intelligence." Accordingly, we find that the jury's conclusion that Mr. Bibbins intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury on Mr. McGuire is supported by the record, and viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, jury could conclude that the State proved the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

         Se ...


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