Appeal from the Eighteenth Judicial District Court In and for
the Parish of Iberville State of Louisiana Docket No. 12-15
c/w 13-15 Honorable Alvin Batiste, Jr., Judge Presiding
Richard J. Ward, Jr. District Attorney Antonio M. Clayton
Terri Russo Lacy Dana Larpenteur Assistant District Attorneys
Port Allen, Louisiana Counsel for Appellee State of Louisiana
Herrle- Castillo Marrero, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/
Appellant Kenneth Jackson
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
defendant, Kenneth Jackson, was charged by grand jury
indictment with second degree murder, a violation of LSA-R.S.
14:30.1, and pled not guilty. The trial court denied the
defendant's motion in limine to prevent the State from
introducing other crimes evidence pursuant to LSA-C.E. art.
404(B). Following a bench trial, the defendant was found
guilty as charged. The defendant was sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence. The defendant now
appeals, assigning error to the admission of other crimes
evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence. For the
following reasons, we affirm the conviction and sentence.
November 4, 2014, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Deputy Brandon
Travis, Sr., of the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office
(IPSO), was patrolling the Plaquemine area when he received a
dispatch reporting spousal abuse of Vanessa Jackson. Deputy
Travis was instructed to meet Vanessa at the NAPA Auto Parts
and Supplies store on La. Highway 1, and proceeded to that
location. After waiting for up to five minutes, Deputy Travis
called the dispatcher and was informed that Vanessa should
have arrived within a few minutes of the initial dispatch.
Deputy Travis decided to leave NAPA and proceeded to
Jackson's residence, located at 57638 True Hope Lane. The
residence was described as a mobile home sitting
perpendicular to the roadway with a front left-side porch.
When Deputy Travis arrived at the residence, he observed
Vanessa's husband (the defendant) in the yard, towards
the rear of the trailer, standing over a body with a knife in
his hand. Deputy Travis immediately exited his vehicle and
upon the officer making eye-contact with the defendant, the
defendant threw the knife towards the front of the porch.
Deputy Travis commanded the defendant to get down on the
ground to be placed in handcuffs. The defendant did not
comply with Deputy Travis's order. IPSO Lieutenant Will
Dangerfield, who arrived on the scene shortly after Deputy
Travis, brandished his taser and commanded the defendant to
get down, and the defendant complied. The defendant was then
handcuffed and transported to jail, as the officers secured
IPSO Detective Mark Graves arrived at the scene at
approximately 2:10 to 2:15 p.m., the first responding
officers had secured the scene. Emergency personnel were
rendering aid to a male subject, Brandon King (the victim),
Vanessa's twenty-six-year-old son. Detective Graves
noticed a silver, bloody, large-blade knife on the ground
near the steps of the front porch. He further observed blood
next to the victim, who was lying on the ground near the rear
steps of the porch, and a rocking chair that appeared to have
been knocked over from the porch. After entering the mobile
home, Detective Graves took a statement from Vanessa, who
also showed the detective a bruise on her right bicep. He
further observed her swollen right wrist, a red abrasion on
her left cheek, bruising to the back of her lower neck and
shoulder area, and redness to her ear where the defendant
reportedly ripped her earring out. Vanessa was taken to the
Sheriff's Office to provide a full interview before
seeking medical attention. Detective Graves did not see any
blood on the porch or in the residence. None of the furniture
or other contents of the residence appeared to be disturbed
or out of place, and there were no signs of a struggle
therein. Based on his observations, Detective Graves
concluded that the victim sustained his injuries while in the
yard, not on the porch or in the residence.
his arrest, the defendant was fully advised of his
Miranda rights and waived them, participating in a
video-recorded interview. He described the incident with
Vanessa before the stabbing as a "shoving match."
At the outset, he claimed that he was protecting himself
during the stabbing incident at issue. The defendant stated
that when the victim arrived, he began kicking the front
door. As the defendant further indicated, when he opened the
door, the victim "bum-rushed" into the house and
began making complaints of the defendant hitting his mother.
The defendant stated that the victim bear-hugged him and
tried to punch him. The defendant stated that he picked up the
knife, possibly knocking over the knife block in the process,
as the victim continued to approach. The victim grabbed the
defendant, and they went out of the door and fell off of the
porch, as the victim was still "trying to punch"
the defendant. According to the defendant, the victim then
grabbed the defendant's hand, in an attempt to take the
knife. The defendant admitted that he stabbed the victim
during the tussle. He stated that he immediately complied
with the police, who told him to approach them after he
tossed the knife.
after the stabbing, in light of the defendant's
post-arrest claims that the victim attempted to kick the door
in and of an altercation taking place inside prior to the
stabbing, the officers re-inspected the home before allowing
Vanessa to reenter the residence. Detective Graves noted and
photographed minor damage to the entry/exit door. Detective
Graves further measured the distance from the doorway to the
edge of the porch at approximately fourteen feet and four
inches. He again did not see any signs of a struggle in the
residence. A knife block with one missing knife was sitting
upright on the kitchen counter, against the back wall between
the cabinets. The distance from the edge of the porch to
where the victim's body was located was another three
feet, approximately. Thus, the victim's body and blood
were located approximately seventeen feet from the front
doorway of the residence.
victim suffered three stab wounds, specifically to his upper
back (left posterior shoulder), left forearm, and his right
tower neck. The victim died as a result of his stab wounds.
OF THE EVIDENCE
assignment of error number two, the defendant assigns error
to the sufficiency of the evidence. The defendant argues that
the trial court erred in finding the State sufficiently
proved that he was not acting in self-defense when he stabbed
the victim. The defendant argues that he was defending
himself from his enraged stepson inside of his own home.
Thus, the defendant does not dispute that the victim's
death was a result of being stabbed by the defendant. The
defendant contends that at the time of the offense, he was
inside of his home, a place where he had a legal right to be.
The defendant also alleges that the victim did not live at
the defendant's house at the time of the offense and did
not have a key to the house.
defendant contends that Vanessa was concerned about what the
victim would do after she told him that she was hit by the
defendant. The defendant argues that Vanessa's concerns
were consistent with the defendant's testimony that when
the victim arrived at his residence, he began beating and
kicking the door, and yelling that he was going to kill the
defendant for hitting his mother. The defendant asserts that
his version was supported by testimony presented by his
nephew, Shawn Howard. He contends that he and Howard were
having a telephone conversation when the victim arrived, and
that Howard could hear a banging noise. The defendant claims
that he opened the door because he was afraid that the victim
would destroy it, that he backed into the kitchen when the
victim entered the residence, and that he picked up the knife
from the counter to urge the victim to leave. The defendant
further claims that the victim initially appeared compliant
before suddenly rushing into the defendant, causing both men
to fall out of the house and off the porch as a struggle
ensued. The defendant contends that the victim was stabbed
three times during the struggle. The defendant concludes that
the evidence presented by the State in an attempt to show
that the victim was not the aggressor was not credible and
was disputed by other testimony.
issues are raised on appeal, both as to the sufficiency of
the evidence and as to one or more trial errors, the
reviewing court should first determine the sufficiency of the
evidence. The reason for reviewing sufficiency first is that
the accused may be entitled to an acquittal under Hudson
v. Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 43, 101 S.Ct. 970, 972, 67
L.Ed.2d 30 (1981), if a rational trier of fact, viewing the
evidence in accordance with Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), in
the light most favorable to the prosecution, could not
reasonably conclude that all of the elements of the offense
have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. See
LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 821(B); State v. Ordodi, 06-0207
(La. 11/29/06), 946 So.2d 654, 660; State v.
Hearold, 603 So.2d 731, 734 (La. 1992).
conducting the review under
Jackson, we also must be expressly
mindful of Louisiana's circumstantial evidence test,
i.e., "assuming every fact to be proved that the
evidence tends to prove, in order to convict, it must exclude
every reasonable hypothesis of innocence." LSA-R.S.
15:438; State v. Wright, 98-0601 (La.App. 1 Cir.
2/19/99), 730 So.2d 485, 486, writs denied, 99-0802
(La. 10/29/99), 748 So.2d 1157 & 00-0895 (La. 11/17/00),
773 So.2d 732. When a case involves circumstantial evidence
and the fact finder reasonably rejects the hypothesis of
innocence presented by the defendant's own testimony,
that hypothesis falls, and the defendant is guilty unless
there is ...