APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-1037, DIVISION
"L" HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Andrea F. Long Douglas W.
Freese Andrew Decoste
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, COREY WOODS Prentice L.
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Marc E.
Johnson, and Robert A. Chaisson
E. JOHNSON JUDGE
Corey Woods, appeals his consecutive 50-year sentences for
his convictions of distribution of a controlled dangerous
substance and habitual offender adjudication from the
24th Judicial District Court, Division
"L". For the following reasons, we affirm
Defendant's convictions and adjudication, affirm the
enhanced sentence, vacate the underlying sentences on counts
two and three, and remand the matter to the trial court for
resentencing on those two counts.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 23, 2017, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney
filed a bill of information charging Defendant with three
counts of distribution of heroin in violation of La. R.S.
40:966(A) (counts one through three), possession with intent
to distribute heroin in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(A)
(count four), and possession with intent to distribute
marijuana in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(A) (count five).
Defendant was arraigned on February 24, 2017, and pleaded not
guilty. On November 9, 2017, the trial judge denied
Defendant's motions to suppress identification and
evidence after a hearing.
December 5, 2017, the State severed counts four and
five. On that same date, Defendant was tried on
counts one through three before a 12-person jury. At trial,
Deputy Misty Favalora with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's
Office (JPSO) testified that prior to attending the police
academy, she worked as an undercover narcotics agent in the
JPSO narcotics division. She further testified that she made
three different purchases of heroin from Defendant on January
10, 17, and 19, 2017. Deputy Favalora explained that she
recorded the transactions using audio and video equipment
that was either on her person or in something she was
carrying and that other officers were nearby monitoring her
for safety reasons.
Favalora stated that during undercover narcotics purchases,
she tries to capture the suspect's face and if she
cannot, she tries her best to get audio of the transaction.
She testified that with respect to the January
17th and 19th transactions, she was
able to capture Defendant's face. Deputy Favalora noted
that the video from January 10th showed narcotics
on the seat and Defendant in the vehicle, but it did not show
Defendant handing her the money. She acknowledged that the
video from January 17th did not show Defendant
receiving the money or her handing him the money, and it did
not show narcotics being passed from him to her. Deputy
Favalora stated that the video from January 19th
did not show money or narcotics being passed between the two
of them. Nevertheless, she maintained that Defendant did, in
fact, sell her heroin on those three occasions. Deputy
Favalora positively identified Defendant in a photographic
lineup after the January 10thtransaction as the
individual whom she purchased the heroin from. She stated
that Defendant also sold her heroin on January
17th and 19th.
Agent Sean Williams testified that he was the lead agent on
those cases and that he and other officers monitored those
transactions. He explained that they conducted more than one
controlled purchase because they wanted to ensure that
Defendant was a heroin distributor. Agent Williams further
explained that he was given a phone number that was later
determined to belong to Defendant and that they used that
phone number to contact Defendant to set up the narcotics
purchases using marked currency. Agent Williams testified
that at the time of his arrest, Defendant was in possession
of approximately $730 or $750 and that drugs were found
"stashed" outside of Defendant's house.
Lee and Brian Schulz testified that they were forensic drug
analysts with the JPSO crime lab. The trial judge accepted
them as experts in the analysis and identification of
controlled dangerous substances. They testified that the
substances that they tested in connection with the instant
case were found to contain heroin.
conclusion of the trial, the jury unanimously found Defendant
guilty as charged. On December 14, 2017, the State filed a
habitual offender bill of information, alleging Defendant to
be a fourth-felony offender. On February 1, 2018, Defendant
filed a Motion for New Trial and for Post-Verdict Judgment of
Acquittal, which was denied after a hearing on February 2,
2018. Thereafter, on February 2, 2018, Defendant waived
sentencing delays, and the trial judge sentenced him to
imprisonment at hard labor for 50 years each on counts one,
two, and three to run consecutively. The trial judge also
ordered the first ten years of each sentence to be served
without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of
sentence. Afterward, on that same date, Defendant denied the
allegations of the habitual offender bill.
February 27, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for appeal and
motion to reconsider sentence. On March 1, 2018, Defendant
stipulated to being a second-felony offender, after which the
trial judge vacated the original sentence on count one and
resentenced Defendant under the habitual offender bill
statute to imprisonment at hard labor for 50 years without
benefit of probation or suspension of sentence to run
consecutively to the sentences on counts two and three. On
March 2, 2018, the trial judge granted the previously filed
motion for appeal and denied the motion to reconsider
sentence. The instant appeal followed.