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State v. Lewis

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 19, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
OLIVER LEWIS

          APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 522-142, SECTION "A" Honorable Laurie A. White, Judge

          Leon Cannizzaro District Attorney Donna Andrieu Irena Zajickova DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE ORLEANS PARISH COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE.

          Holli Herrle-Castillo LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT.

          Court composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Dale N. Atkins

          JOY COSSICH LOBRANO, JUDGE

         Defendant, Oliver Lewis ("Defendant"), appeals his convictions for aggravated rape and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. After reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the convictions.

         Following his indictment on charges of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary, Defendant pled not guilty to both charges. A jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated rape and returned the responsive verdict of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling on the burglary count. The district court denied Defendant's motion for new trial and imposed consecutive terms of life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. After Defendant was granted an out-of-time appeal, we remanded the case to the district court based on an incomplete record of the voir dire:

Similar to [State v.] Handy, [17-1823, (La. 12/15/17), 231 So.3d 609], the parties here do not dispute that Mr. Lewis exhausted his peremptory challenges and the present record does not include a basis for the trial court's rulings excusing eleven potential jurors. Although the State argues that the defense was required to lodge an on-the-record objection to any adverse rulings excusing a juror to preserve the issue for review, the off-the-record nature of the voir dire examination renders it impossible to ascertain whether the defense objected. The trial court questioned the jurors before excusing them. Thus, presumably they were not removed pursuant to a joint motion.
Given these facts, the Supreme Court's recent holding in Handy, and to afford Mr. Lewis meaningful appellate review, we remand the matter to the trial court to determine whether any documentation created contemporaneous to the trial court's rulings excusing the jurors exists.

State v. Lewis, 17-0255, p. 4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/7/18), 238 So.3d 509, 512.

         On March 16, 2018, the district court conducted a hearing and determined that two of the jurors had been excused without objection. As to the nine remaining jurors, the court located documentation concerning the discussions related to their removals, after which defense counsel filed a motion to supplement the record with the material. This timely appeal followed.

         The evidence presented at trial in support of the convictions is at most tangentially relevant to Defendant's claim on appeal-that the court erred when it denied two of his defense challenges for cause because the prospective jurors themselves were sex-crime survivors.

         The female victim ("Victim') was eleven years old at the time of the crime. Defendant, a former boyfriend of Victim's mother, entered the residence without authorization, possibly by climbing onto a balcony located on the second floor. Defendant was caught by Victim's stepfather in bed with her. Officers responded to the scene where they encountered the naked Defendant restrained by Victim's stepfather. Bodycam footage depicted Victim accusing Defendant of forcing her to perform oral sex and ...


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