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State ex rel. M.K.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 12, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF M.K.

          APPEAL FROM JUVENILE COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-300-03-DQ-E, SECTION "E" HONORABLE DESIREE COOK-CALVIN, JUDGE.

          KATHERINE M. FRANKS LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT P.O. BOX 220 MADISONVILLE, LA 70447 COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT/ M.K.

          LEON CANNIZZARO DISTRICT ATTORNEY DONNA ANDRIEU, CHIEF OF APPEAL ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY IRENA ZAJICKOVA ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY PARISH OF ORLEANS 619 S. WHITE STREET NEW ORLEANS, LA 70119 COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/ STATE OF LOUISIANA

          (Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods)

          Daniel L. Dysart Judge.

         M.K., who appeared with counsel, was adjudicated delinquent for a violation of La. R.S. 14:62, simple burglary, at an adjudication hearing on April 17, 2017. The trial court imposed a one year sentence of incarceration, suspended, and imposed a one year term of active probation with special conditions. M.K. filed a motion to reconsider his sentence, which was denied. He now appeals his adjudication, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing exhibits from a Crime Lab Report to be admitted into evidence, and using the testimonial hearsay contained in that evidence as substantive evidence of guilt. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

         BACKGROUND:

         On December 21, 2016, Ms. Rebecca Schultz, was notified on her telephone that an active alarm had sounded at the house she was building at 8830 Cohn Street in New Orleans. The house was located about nine blocks from Ms. Schultz's residence. The alarm company also called her, and she asked that it notify the police. Ms. Schultz proceeded to Cohn Street, and called 911 on the way. She also called a neighbor across from the Cohn Street house, and he met her at the house. Ms. Schultz testified that she poked at the open rear door with her foot, but did not enter. The neighbor did enter and reported that no one was in the house.

         Upon entering, Ms. Schultz noticed broken glass on the living room floor and that a window had been shattered. She noted that deck railings on the back of the property were broken, and that the window screen had been removed and was in the backyard. There was what appeared to be blood on the wall above the broken window, on the window frame and a bloody handprint on the back door.

         Ms. Schultz testified that the same window had been broken by a thrown rock prior to this event. She chose not to notify the police, intending to repair the window. On this date, however, the glass was completely shattered. She stated that large appliances had been installed, but the house was not furnished. Ms. Schultz did not know M.K., and had not given him permission to be in the house.

         New Orleans Police Officer Maurice Stewart testified that he was dispatched to the Cohn Street address for a possible burglary. He met with Ms. Schultz and entered the house, observing broken glass from a window on the floor, blood stains on the wall and around the broken window frame. The exit point appeared to be the open back door. The officer testified that he noted broken wooden railings on the back deck and window screens on the ground in the backyard. On cross-examination, Officer Stewart stated that there were bloody fingerprints throughout the living room.

         The State called Officer Joseph Pollard, a latent print examiner with the New Orleans Police Department, who was accepted as an expert in fingerprint identification. He testified that his job duties include lifting fingerprints and identifying them, although he was not the officer who lifted the prints in this case. Instead, Officer Pollard was called upon in this case to link the prints to a suspect. After explaining the process of identifying finger prints, Officer Pollard determined that the prints belonged to M.K.[1]

         Detective Stephen Williams was called by the State. He testified that he investigated the burglary at the Cohn Street house. His involvement in the case began upon receiving a fingerprint result sheet from the fingerprint unit. Over the defense's hearsay objection, the detective explained the process of beginning his investigation through use of the fingerprint report. He determined that M.K. was a suspect in the burglary and obtained an arrest warrant, and placed it on file with the National Crime Information Center.

         Following closing argument by the defense, the trial court found M.K. guilty as charged, relying on the evidence that his fingerprints were ...


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