Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 11F3407
Honorable Larry Donell Jefferson, Judge
MICHAEL LORENZO BARNETT, JR. Pro Se
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Cary J. Ellis, III Counsel
STEPHEN TEW District Attorney Counsel for Appellee
S. AYCOCK DANIEL J. HUNTER Assistant District Attorneys
GARRETT, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.
criminal appeal arises from the Fourth Judicial District
Court, Ouachita Parish, State of Louisiana. Following a bench
trial, the defendant, Michael Barnett, Jr., was found guilty
as charged of second degree murder and sentenced to life
imprisonment without benefit of probation, parole, or
suspension of sentence, pursuant to La. R.S. 14:30.1. Barnett
now appeals his conviction and sentence, which we affirm for
the following reasons.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
early hours of December 20, 2011, Deputies Seth Cox and
Michael McLain, of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's
Department ("OPSD"), responded to a 911 call about
a shooting on Dellwood Drive in Monroe, Louisiana. They found
a deceased black male in a black shirt and dark jeans with
multiple gunshot wounds lying at the edge of a ditch on
Dellwood Drive. The deceased was later identified as Andre
Alexander. Michael Barnett, Jr., was subsequently arrested
and charged with second degree murder, in violation of La.
was indicted for second degree murder on February 9, 2012. As
of March 23, 2015, the matter had not yet proceeded to trial,
and Barnett filed a pro se motion to quash the
indictment based on La.C.Cr.P. art. 578(A)(2), which provides
that no trial shall be commenced in a non-capital felony case
after two years from the date of institution of the
prosecution. In response, the state urged the applicability
of La.C.Cr.P. art. 580(A), which addresses suspension of time
limitations. Following a brief hearing, the trial court
granted the motion quashing the indictment. The court then
granted a stay of the proceedings and the state filed a writ
application with this court, which was granted. The matter
was considered an appealable issue. State v.
Barnett, 50, 159-KW (La.App. 2 Cir. 04/16/2015).
Ultimately, this court concluded that the running of the
two-year time limitation of La.C.Cr.P. art. 578 was suspended
by the defense motion for preliminary examination and
thereafter by numerous continuances of the trial date, and
the trial judge abused his discretion in finding otherwise
and in granting the motion to quash. The judgment was
vacated, and the motion to quash the indictment filed by
Barnett was denied. The matter was remanded for further
proceedings. State v. Barnett, 50, 213 (La.App. 2
Cir. 08/12/15), 174 So.3d 748.
waived his right to a jury trial, and a bench trial began on
August 15, 2016. The state announced for the record that
Barnett rejected the state's offer for him to plead
guilty to manslaughter with a sentencing range of 25-35
August 23, 2016, Barnett appeared for the trial court's
verdict. The trial court explained that after weighing the
physical and testimonial evidence presented by the state at
trial, it found that Barnett shot and killed Andre Alexander.
The trial court found that specific intent to kill was
established by the findings made in the report of
Alexander's autopsy, which revealed that Alexander was
shot five times, including once in the head. Barnett was
found guilty as charged of second degree murder.
November 9, 2016, Barnett filed a post-trial motion for new
trial and a motion to reconsider the verdict and/or for a
directed verdict of acquittal. The trial court denied the
motions for new trial and for a directed verdict of
acquittal, but granted the motion to reconsider the verdict.
Resultantly, the trial court vacated its ruling finding
Barnett guilty of second degree murder and entered a ruling
of guilty of the responsive verdict of manslaughter. In
response, the state filed a writ application to this court;
we granted the state's writ, vacated the verdict of
manslaughter, reinstated the conviction for second degree
murder, and remanded the matter for sentencing. State v.
Barnett, 51, 493-KW (La.App. 2 Cir. 04/04/2017),
writ denied, 2017-0946 (La. 09/29/17), 227 So.3d
the trial court (and prior to sentencing), Barnett then filed
a pro se "motion to reconsider new trial,"
which the trial court granted after finding that the verdict
of second degree murder was contrary to the law and evidence.
The state sought to appeal the trial court's ruling,
which the trial court denied. Thus, the state sought
supervisory review of the trial court's denial of its
motion for appeal, which we denied on the basis that the
ruling granting a new trial was not a final appealable
judgment. State v. Barnett, 52, 121-KW (La.App. 2
Cir. 02/08/2018). Ultimately, the state applied for
supervisory review of the trial court's ruling granting
Barnett a new trial; this writ was granted, the ruling
reversed, the conviction for second degree murder reinstated,
and the matter remanded for sentencing. State v.
Barnett, 52, 156-KW (La.App. 2 Cir. 03/08/2018).
appeared for sentencing on April 2, 2018. The trial court
imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment at hard
labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of
sentence. Barnett was advised of the time delays to appeal
his conviction and sentence and to seek post-conviction
relief, and he filed a motion to reconsider sentence. The
motion was denied, and this appeal by Barnett ensued.
one and only assignment of error, Barnett argues there was
insufficient evidence to support the conviction for second
degree murder. Barnett asserts that the state did not
establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he was Andre's
shooter. Barnett also argues that the state failed to prove
that he wrote or sent the inculpatory text messages that
Chereteria Kennedy alleged were from him. Barnett maintains
that no eyewitnesses specifically identified him as the
shooter and asserts that witness testimony regarding
inculpatory acts and statements allegedly made by Barnett
were contradictory and insufficient to establish beyond a
reasonable doubt that he was the shooter.
notes that in testimony by those witnesses who saw and
identified him at the scene or in the hours after the murder,
none of those witnesses saw him with a gun. He also
emphasizes that while Arthur Mott testified that the man he
saw chasing the victim on Dellwood Drive was carrying a gun,
Mott could not identify the gunman. Barnett dismisses the
entirety of Mott's testimony as noncredible because Mott
assumed that the unknown gunman was wearing shorts since Mott
could see the gunman's socks, while none of the other
witnesses said Barnett was wearing shorts.
further argues that the state provided no physical or
forensic evidence tying him specifically to Andre's
murder. Barnett asserts that he is innocent because no gun
was recovered; Andre suffered five gunshot wounds but only
two shell casings were recovered; forensic testing of the
vehicle Barnett rode in before and after the homicide
revealed no evidence tying him to the murder; and, in the
security video of Barnett at the gas station after the
murder, there was no visible blood on his shirt, pants, or
shoes. We disagree.