Appealed from the Fifth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of West Carroll, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2017F124
Honorable Don C. Burns, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Chad Ikerd Counsel for
M. LANCASTER District Attorney Counsel for Appellee
M. WILKINS Assistant District Attorney
MOORE, STONE, and COX, JJ.
criminal appeal arises from the Fifth Judicial District
Court, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. These crimes were
committed in Franklin Parish. A pretrial motion to change
venue was granted and the case was transferred to West
Carroll Parish for trial. A unanimous jury convicted Kevin Q.
Mathis of the aggravated kidnapping and attempted first
degree murder of Kelli Longoria and possession of a firearm
by a convicted felon. Mathis was sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence on the aggravated
kidnapping conviction; 50 years' imprisonment at hard
labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension
of sentence on the attempted first degree murder conviction;
and 10 years' imprisonment at hard labor without the
benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence on
the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon conviction.
The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.
Mathis's motion for new trial was denied and this appeal
followed. For the following reasons, we affirm Mathis's
convictions and sentences.
16, 2016, Kelli Longoria stopped at the U-Pak-It/Citgo
convenience store in Winnsboro, Louisiana, to get a lemonade
on her way to a 7:00 a.m. meeting at her family's
hardware store. Kelli was driving a dark-colored GMC SUV.
Surveillance video introduced at trial shows Kelli purchase a
lemonade with a blue debit card from Winnsboro Bank, exit the
store, and get into her vehicle. Kelli stated a black male
approached her and asked her for a ride to the hospital.
Kelli agreed to give the man a ride, but he stated that he
would drive. Kelli told the man that she could drive, and the
man responded, "I have a gun, move over, I'm
driving." Kelli testified that she crawled to the
passenger side of her vehicle and the man drove them away
from the convenience store.
surveillance video also shows a black male enter and leave
the store, look around, and sit/lean on a pole outside the
store. A still shot taken from the video shows a
handgun-shaped bulge in the man's right pant pocket. The
man is wearing a dark shirt and long, baggy khaki shorts. The
same man is seen on the video approaching Kelli's driver
side door, the door opens, the man moves toward the open door
and disappears off the screen, and then the door closes. He
is not seen again outside the vehicle.
testified that when the two left the parking lot, she noticed
that the man passed several turns that would have taken them
to the hospital. During the drive, the man showed her the gun
and said, "Hey, I told you I had this, here it is."
Kelli testified that when he turned toward the cemetery, she
knew he was not going to the hospital. Once in the cemetery,
she stated that the man backed her SUV into some trees and
brush and then took her debit card and phone. Kelli testified
that the last thing she remembered was crouching down on the
floorboard with the gun pointed at her. She described the
events as follows:
[Kelli's cell phone] kept going off and he said
"give me your phone." And I was like "well,
I'm not answering anything. Why do you need it?" and
he said "just give me your phone." And so I gave it
to him because I mean I didn't want him to kill me. And
so I gave him my phone and then he did the same thing, he was
like "give me your money" I said "I don't
carry cash on me but I have a debit card" and he said
"okay, give me your debit card" and so I gave it to
him and then he was like "what's the pin
number?" And so I wrote it down for him and he had that
on a piece of paper and my debit card.
testified that the next thing she remembered was waking up in
the rehabilitation facility in Jackson, Mississippi. She
confirmed that the man who approached her at the convenience
store is the same man who abducted her and shot her. Kelli
was not asked to identify Mathis as her assailant in court or
before trial in a photographic lineup.
Singleton, a grave digger in Winnsboro, testified that he was
in the cemetery that morning to dig a grave. Mr. Singleton
stated that, for a reason he could not explain, he turned a
different direction than usual while driving in the cemetery
and observed a dark-colored SUV backed into the trees. The
passenger door was open and he saw a body "hanging
out." Mr. Singleton called his boss, Yolandes Davis, who
told Mr. Singleton to call 911, which he did. Mr. Davis also
testified and corroborated the presence of the vehicle and
officers testified regarding the report of a suspicious,
abandoned vehicle in the Gethsemane Cemetery with an injured
white female inside. Upon arrival, officers found the SUV
with Kelli in the passenger side, partially hanging out of
the vehicle. The lemonade Kelli purchased was unopened in the
cup holder and the crime scene photographs show blood spatter
throughout the vehicle. Deputy Sheriff Jeff Wright was a
responding officer and testified that Kelli suffered a trauma
to the forehead, but officers could not tell the cause due to
the amount of blood and the fact that the blood had already
started coagulating and clotting.
Wright stated that although Kelli could not speak, she was
able to hand gesture to officers that she had been shot.
Kelli was ultimately transported to Jackson, Mississippi, for
treatment. It was determined that Kelli suffered a gunshot to
her head and doctors advised the family that she would likely
not survive through the night. However, Kelli progressed and,
after months of rehabilitation, relearned how to speak and
Scott Brown, of the Louisiana State Police, testified
regarding the crime scene investigation and identified the
black male seen on the surveillance video as the defendant,
Kevin Mathis. Trooper Brown advised that there was no DNA
evidence or fingerprint evidence from the crime scene. He
explained that fingerprint powder destroys DNA so instead of
fingerprinting, he opted for DNA testing, which was
inconclusive. Trooper Brown pointed out that by the time
Mathis was arrested, he had taken a bath and changed clothes,
ensuring that there would be no DNA evidence on his person.
Trooper Brown stated that the crime lab does not perform gun
residue testing because it is unreliable.
days after the offense, a cell phone and case were located
beside a path near the cemetery. The case had been removed
and the phone destroyed. The pieces of the case were
scattered near a ditch and the phone had been tossed into a
culvert. Officers concluded it was Kelli's cell phone
because it matched the phone Kelli was carrying in the
surveillance video from the convenience store. Trooper Brown
testified that because it had rained before the phone and
case were found, there were no recoverable fingerprints or
Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb also testified that during the
investigation, on the morning of the offense, the black male
seen on the surveillance video was identified as Mathis.
Sheriff Cobb made an in-court identification of Mathis as the
person seen on the surveillance video. Sheriff Cobb described
Mathis's behavior at the convenience store as
"panning," or looking for an opportunity. He
testified that the surveillance video showed Mathis enter and
leave the store. When Kelli walked past him, Mathis put his
hand in his pocket where the handgun-shaped object was seen.
He stated that the video shows Mathis followed Kelli to her
vehicle. After Kelli entered her vehicle and shut the door,
Mathis approached the vehicle and "at that point[, ] Mr.
Mathis enters her vehicle." Sheriff Cobb stated that two
witnesses, Torquill Boley and Lakeithrick McMillan, came
forward that morning with information possibly linking Mathis
to the crime. Sheriff Cobb testified that, based on the
foregoing information, Mathis became a person of interest and
a BOLO was issued for his arrest.
Will Pearce, of the Winnsboro Police Department, testified
that he was riding in a patrol car on the morning of the
shooting and kidnapping when he observed Mathis. Officer
Pearce knew Mathis before this offense. He exited the patrol
car and Mathis fled. Officer Pearce caught Mathis, ordered
him to the ground, and took him into custody.
Boley testified that he has known Mathis for "some
years" because they live on the same street. Boley
stated that he was approached by Mathis early in the morning
of July 16, 2016, and the two rode together to Boley's
house. Boley testified that Mathis asked him if he had any
nine millimeter bullets. Boley told Mathis he did not have
any bullets. He stated that Mathis then "flagged"
down LaKeithrick McMillan and was gone. Boley identified
Mathis in court as the man who asked him for the bullets.
McMillan testified that he saw Mathis at Boley's house
early that morning. He later saw Mathis on Gum Street and
gave him a ride. Mathis asked McMillan to take him to the
bank and told him that he had his Uncle Bobby's debit
card and needed to use it. McMillan testified that Mathis
told him that McMillan would have to pull up to the bank and
Mathis would reach out the window. Mathis told him he would
have to hide his face to use the card. On cross-examination,
McMillan stated that Mathis did not seem nervous and he did
not see a gun or any blood on Mathis. McMillan ...