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State v. Bias

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 6, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
LADRAY BIAS, JR.

          APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 17115-16 HONORABLE G. MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT JUDGE

          JOHN F. DEROSIER DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT DANIEL VERMAELEN ELIZABETH B. HOLLINS ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: STATE OF LOUISIANA

          EDWARD K. BAUMAN LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: LADRAY BIAS, JR., LADRAY BIAS, JR. GENERAL DELIVERY LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY ANGOLA, LA 70712 PRO SE DEFENDANT: LADRAY BIAS, JR.

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D. Saunders, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          JOHN D. SAUNDERS, JUDGE

         Defendant, Ladray Bias, Jr., was charged with the attempted second degree murder of the victim, Brittany Dionne Watson, in violation of La.R.S. 14:27 and 14:30.1, on September 8, 2016. He was found guilty as charged on June 15, 2017. The trial court sentenced him to serve forty years at hard labor with credit for time served. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider his sentence, and the trial court denied it on September 11, 2017.

         On June 26, 2017, the State charged Defendant as a third felony offender pursuant to La.R.S. 15:529.1. The trial court vacated Defendant's sentence on November 29, 2017, and resentenced him to serve seventy years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider his habitual offender sentence, contending the original forty-year sentence was appropriate. The trial judge denied the motion on December 13, 2017. Defendant now seeks review of his conviction and sentence. We will address Defendant's first assignment of error, alleging insufficient evidence for a conviction, in this opinion. We will address the second assignment of error, alleging an excessive sentence, in our opinion under docket number 18-665, the appeal taken after Defendant's habitual offender adjudication and resentencing.

         FACTS:

         Defendant stabbed the victim four times in her head, neck, chest, and back during an argument on July 29, 2016.

         ERRORS PATENT:

         In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed by this court for errors patent on the face of the record. After reviewing the record, we find that there are no errors patent.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE:

         Defendant contends the evidence at trial was insufficient to convict him of attempted second degree murder. The standard of review in a sufficiency of the evidence claim is "whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found proof beyond a reasonable doubt of each of the essential elements of the crime charged." State v. Leger, 05-11, p. 91 (La. 7/10/06), 936 So.2d 108, 170, cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1221, 127 S.Ct. 1279 (2007) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781 (1979); State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676 (La.1984)). The Jackson standard of review is now legislatively embodied in La.Code Crim.P. art. 821. It does not allow the appellate court "to substitute its own appreciation of the evidence for that of the fact-finder." State v. Pigford, 05-477, p. 6 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517, 521 (citing State v. Robertson, 96-1048 (La. 10/4/96), 680 So.2d 1165; State v. Lubrano, 563 So.2d 847 (La.1990)). The appellate court's function is not to assess the credibility of witnesses or to reweigh the evidence. State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442.

         The factfinder's role is to weigh the credibility of witnesses. State v. Ryan, 07-504 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/7/07), 969 So.2d 1268. Thus, other than insuring the sufficiency evaluation standard of Jackson, "the appellate court should not second-guess the credibility determination of the trier of fact," but rather, it should defer to the rational credibility and evidentiary determinations of the jury. Id. at 1270 (quoting State v. Lambert, 97-64, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 9/30/98), 720 So.2d 724, 726-27). Our supreme court has stated:

However, an appellate court may impinge on the fact finder's discretion and its role in determining the credibility of witnesses "only to the extent necessary to guarantee the fundamental due process of law." State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1310 (La.1988). In determining the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a conviction, an appellate court must preserve "'the factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence' by reviewing 'all of the evidence . . . in the light most favorable to the prosecution.'" McDaniel v. Brown, 558 U.S. ___, ___, 130 S.Ct. 665, 674, 175 L.Ed.2d 582 (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979)). When so viewed by an appellate court, the relevant question is whether, on the evidence presented at trial, "any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at 2789. Applied in cases relying on circumstantial evidence, . . . this fundamental principle of review means that when a jury "reasonably rejects the hypothesis of innocence presented by the defendant[ ], that hypothesis falls, and the defendant is guilty unless there is another hypothesis which raises a reasonable doubt." State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676, 680 (La.1984).

State v. Strother, 09-2357, pp. 10-11 (La. 10/22/10), 49 So.3d 372, 378.

Our supreme court has provided, "It is the intent to commit the crime, not the possibility of success, that determines whether the act or omission constitutes the crime of attempt." State v. Smith, 94-3116, p. 3 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442, 444.
Further, La.R.S. 14:30.1 states:
A. Second degree murder is the killing of a human being:
(1) When the offender has the specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm[.]
In State v. George, 09-143, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/7/09), 19 So.3d 614, 618, the court explained, in pertinent part:
The essential elements of the crime of attempted second degree murder are a specific intent to kill the victim and the commission of an overt act that tends toward the accomplishment of the victim's death. La.R.S. 14:30.1; State v. Hollingsworth, 42, 317 (La.App. 2 Cir. 8/15/07), 962 So.2d 1183.

         Further, our court has explained:

Reading the pertinent parts of these articles together, the state in this case had the burden of proving that the defendant had the specific intent to kill and did an act for the purpose of and tending directly toward accomplishing it. State v. Butler, 322 So.2d 189 (La.1975); State v. Guin, 444 So.2d 625 (La.App. 3 Cir.1983). Specific criminal intent has been statutorily defined as the state of mind which exists when circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the proscribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act. La.R.S. 14:10(1). Since specific intent is a state of mind, it need not be proven as a fact, but rather may be inferred from the circumstances and the actions of the defendant. State v. Graham, 420 So.2d 1126 (La.1982).
State v. Hongo, 625 So.2d 610, 613 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1993), writ denied, 631 So.2d 1163 ...

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