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State v. Burch

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

November 14, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAMES E. BURCH Appellant

          Appealed from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of Union, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2015-52537 Honorable Thomas W. Rogers, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Carey J. Ellis, III Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES E. BURCH Pro Se

          JOHN F. BELTON District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          WILLIAM K. GREEN TRACY W. HOUCK Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, STEPHENS, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          WILLIAMS, C.J.

         The defendant, James Burch, was charged by bill of information with attempting to disarm a peace officer, a violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and 14:34.6, and public intimidation, a violation of La. R.S. 14:122. After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty as charged. Defendant's motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and for new trial were denied. The trial court adjudicated defendant a third felony offender and sentenced him to serve 3 years at hard labor for the attempt to disarm conviction and 4 years for the public intimidation conviction. Defendant appeals his convictions. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         The record shows that on June 24, 2015, Deputy Trey Tull and Deputy Montrel Ferguson of the Union Parish Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a residence in Marion, Louisiana, in response to a disturbance call. At the residence, Teresa Burch told the deputies that defendant, her cousin, had used a rake to rip the screen door and poke her several times through the door. Deputies Tull and Ferguson went to defendant's residence and saw him sleeping through an open window. The deputies entered the dwelling and woke defendant, who cursed at them and seemed quite intoxicated. Based on Ms. Burch's allegations, defendant was placed under arrest, handcuffed and advised of his Miranda rights. Deputy Tull took defendant outside and told him several times to get into the back seat of the police car. According to the deputies, defendant did not comply, but continued cursing at them and then took a step away from the vehicle. At that point, Deputy Tull activated his Taser and pressed it on defendant's hip. Defendant then grabbed the Taser and as he turned away Deputy Tull pushed him into the back seat and pulled the Taser from defendant's grasp. Deputy Tull later stated that during the ride to the Union Parish Detention Center, defendant threatened to "kill him and have his job." Defendant was charged with attempting to disarm a peace officer and public intimidation.

         After a trial, the jury found defendant guilty as charged. Defendant's motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and for new trial were denied. The trial court adjudicated defendant a third felony offender and sentenced him to serve 3 years at hard labor for the attempt to disarm conviction and 4 years for the public intimidation conviction, with the sentences to run concurrently. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         The defendant contends the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions for attempting to disarm a police officer and public intimidation. Defendant argues that he was trying to protect himself, not attempting to take the Taser from the deputy, and that his comments in the patrol car were not intended to influence the deputy in doing his job.

         The standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Tate, 2001-1658 (La. 5/20/03), 851 So.2d 921, cert. denied, 541 U.S. 905, 124 S.Ct. 1604, 158 L.Ed.2d 248 (2004); State v. Robinson, 50, 643 (La.App. 2 Cir. 6/22/16), 197 So.3d 717, writ denied, 2016-1479 (La. 5/19/17), 221 So.3d 78. This standard, now legislatively embodied in La. C.Cr.P. art. 821, does not ...


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