FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA,
NO. 16-CR-1007 HONORABLE KEITH RAYNE JULES COMEAUX, DISTRICT
Ann Herrle-Castillo COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Katron
Bofill Duhé W. Claire Howington COUNSEL FOR
STATE-APPELLEE: State of Louisiana
composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, John E. Conery, and Candyce
G. Perret, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.
19, 2016, Mar'Quise Colbert was living with his aunt,
Charlene Johnlouis, at her residence at 415 Hubertville Road,
Jeanerette, Louisiana. Ms. Johnlouis was renting the house,
which was owned by Randy Babineaux. His aunt awakened him by
phone that morning and asked him to open the door for her
because Katron Richard, the defendant, was outside the house
and she was afraid to come in by herself. Mr. Colbert did so,
and saw the defendant walking away from the house. Ms.
Johnlouis changed clothes to go to work, and Mr. Colbert
walked her to her car. Mr. Colbert then went back to sleep.
an hour later he woke up coughing and realized the house was
on fire. Mr. Colbert ran out of the house and called his
mother, then Ms. Johnlouis, and then 9-1-1.
house and contents were extensively damaged by the fire. An
investigation into the cause and origin of the fire was
conducted. The fire marshal who conducted the investigation
determined it was incendiary in nature. In the course of the
investigation, footage was retrieved from the security camera
of a neighborhood home which showed a man walking both to and
from the area behind Ms. Johnlouis's house immediately
before the fire was discovered. Fire Chief Clarence Clark
reviewed the footage and identified the man as his second
cousin, Katron Richard, the defendant herein. Mr. Colbert
also identified the man on the security camera footage as the
defendant. Chief Clark contacted the defendant and asked him
to come in and give a statement. The defendant agreed to come
in for an interview but failed to appear. Ultimately, a
warrant was issued for his arrest.
defendant was charged by bill of information filed on August
25, 2016, and amended bill of information filed on October
11, 2017, with aggravated arson, a violation of La.R.S.
14:51. Trial by jury commenced on October 16, 2017. The
defendant was found guilty of the responsive verdict of
simple arson over $500.00, a violation of La.R.S. 14:52, on
October 18, 2017. On January 12, 2018, the defendant was
sentenced to serve eight years at hard labor and ordered to
pay restitution in the amount of $33, 617.98 to Mr. Babineaux
and $10, 000.00 to Ms. Johnlouis.'  A Motion to
Reconsider Sentence was filed on January 30, 2018 and denied
without a hearing the following day. A Motion for Appeal and
Designation of Record was filed on February 26, 2018 and was
defendant asserts two assignments of error:
1. The evidence was insufficient to uphold the conviction.
2. The sentence imposed was excessive.
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 there is one
court gave the defendant insufficient advice as to the time
period for filing post-conviction relief. The trial court
advised the defendant as follows:
Mr. Richard, you have two years within which to file for
post-conviction relief. If you think a state or federal
constitutional right has been violated, you have two years to
complain about it. Failure to complain about it within two
years means you lose the right to complain about it.
to La.Code Crim.P. art. 930.8, the two-year prescriptive
period for filing post-conviction relief begins to run
after the conviction and sentence become
final under the provisions of La.Code Crim.P. arts.
914 or 922. Thus, the trial court's advice was
insufficient in that it failed to inform the defendant that
the two- year time period will begin to run after the
defendant's conviction and sentence become final. The
trial court is directed to inform the defendant of the
correct provisions of La.Code Crim.P. art. 930.8 by sending
appropriate written notice to the defendant within ten days
of the rendition of this opinion and to file written proof in
the record of the proceedings that the defendant received the
notice. See State v. Roe, 05-116 (La.App. 3
Cir. 6/1/05), 903 So.2d 1265, writ denied, 05-1762
(La. 2/10/06), 924 So.2d 163.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
first assignment of error, the defendant contends the
evidence is insufficient to uphold his conviction for simple
In State v. Bryant, 12-233 (La.10/16/12), 101 So.3d
429, the Louisiana supreme court addressed the sufficiency of
the evidence claims, reiterating that the appellate review of
such claims is controlled by the standard enunciated by the
United States Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia,
443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). See
State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676 (La.1984). In applying
the Jackson v. Virginia standard, the appellate
court must determine that, when viewed in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, the evidence is
"sufficient to convince a rational trier of fact that
all of the elements of the crime had been proved beyond a
reasonable doubt." Bryant, 101 So.3d at 432.
See also La.Code Crim.P. art. 821.
In State v. Spears, 05-964, p. 3 (La.4/4/06), 929
So.2d 1219, 1222-23, the supreme court stated that:
constitutional law does not require the reviewing court to
determine whether it believes the witnesses or whether it
believes that the evidence establishes guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305,
1309 (La.1988). Rather, the fact finder is given much
discretion in determinations of credibility and evidence, and
the reviewing court will only impinge on this discretion to
the extent necessary to guarantee the fundamental protection
of due process of law.
"Evidence may be either direct or circumstantial."
State v. Jacobs, 07-887, p. 12 (La.App. 5 Cir.
5/24/11), 67 So.3d 535, 551, writ denied, 11-1753
(La.2/10/12), 80 So.3d 468, cert. denied,  U.S.
, 133 S.Ct. 139, 184 L.Ed.2d 67 (2012). We note that,
whether the conviction is based on direct evidence or solely
on circumstantial evidence, the review is the same under the
Jackson v. Virginia standard. State v.
Williams, 33, 881 (La.App. 2 Cir. 9/27/00), 768 So.2d
728 (citing State v. Sutton, 436 So.2d 471
(La.1983)), writ denied, 00-99 (La.10/5/01), 798
So.2d 963. Circumstantial evidence is that where the main
fact can be inferred, using reason and common experience,
from proof of collateral facts and circumstances.
Id. Where the conviction is based on circumstantial
evidence, in order to convict, "assuming every fact to
be proved that the evidence tends to prove, in order to
convict, it must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of
innocence." La.R.S. 15:438.
In State v. Chism, 436 So.2d 464, 469 (La.1983)
(citations omitted), the supreme court discussed the use of
circumstantial evidence, stating:
Circumstantial evidence involves, in addition to the
assertion of witnesses as to what they have observed, a
process of reasoning, or inference by which a conclusion is
drawn. Like all other evidence, it may be strong or weak; it
may be so unconvincing as to be quite worthless, or it may be
irresistible and overwhelming. There is still no man who
would not accept dog tracks in the mud against the sworn
testimony of a hundred eyewitnesses that no dog passed by.
The gist of circumstantial evidence, and the key to it, is
the inference, or process of reasoning by which the
conclusion is reached. This must be based on the evidence
given, together with a sufficient background of human
experience to justify the conclusion.
Consequently, before a trier of fact can decide the ultimate
question of whether a reasonable hypothesis of innocence
exists in a criminal case based crucially on circumstantial
evidence, a number of preliminary findings must be made. In
addition to assessing the circumstantial evidence in light of
the direct evidence, and vice versa, the trier of fact must
decide what reasonable inferences may be drawn from the
circumstantial evidence, the manner in which competing
inferences should be resolved, reconciled or compromised; and
the weight and effect to be given to each permissible
inference. From facts found from direct evidence and inferred
from circumstantial evidence, the trier of fact should
proceed, keeping in mind the relative strength and weakness
of each inference and finding, to decide the ultimate
question of whether this body of preliminary facts excludes
every reasonable hypothesis of innocence.
State v. Williams, 13-497, pp. 3-5 (La.App. 3 Cir.
11/6/13), 124 So.3d 1236, 1239-40, writ denied,
13-2774 (La. 5/16/14), 139 So.3d 1024. "[W]hen the key
issue is the defendant's identity as the perpetrator,
rather than whether the crime was committed, the State is
required to negate any reasonable probability of
misidentification." State v. Hughes, 05-992, p.
5 (La. 11/29/06), 943 So.2d 1047, 1051.
defendant was convicted of simple arson, which is "[t]he
intentional damaging by any explosive substance or the
setting fire to any property of another, without the consent
of the owner and except as provided in [aggravated
arson]." La.R.S. 14:52.
Babineaux testified that he owned the residence located at
415 Hubertville Road in Jeanerette, Louisiana, on June 19,
2016. At that time, he rented the residence to Ms. Johnlouis
for $600.00 a month. The house was furnished with a washer,
dryer, stove, refrigerator, couch, and love seat when Ms.
Johnlouis rented it.
Babineaux testified he was at church at the time the house
burned. Mr. Babineaux lost the following items in the fire:
"the refrigerator, the range, washing machine, dryer,
hot water heater, two air conditioning units, heat and cool
units, 24, 000 BTUs, and the dining room set." Mr.
Babineaux stated those items cost $5, 760.98. There was also
structural damage to the home, and repairs were estimated at
days before the fire, the defendant sought out Mr. Babineaux
at one of his rental properties. The defendant asked Mr.
Babineaux for a key to the Hubertville Road house. Although
Mr. Babineaux was aware that the defendant lived at the home
with Ms. Johnlouis, Mr. Babineaux denied the request because
the house was rented to Ms. Johnlouis. This upset the
defendant. Mr. Babineaux did not know if the defendant had
any property inside the home.
Clark was employed by the St. Mary Parish Fire Protection,
District Number 11. He was the first firefighter to respond
to 415 Hubertville Road on June 19, 2016, arriving at 8:31
a.m. The state fire marshal was notified because the fire was
suspicious in nature.
Clark concluded the fire was started on the outside of the
home. He stated: "At the rear of the house where the
'V' pattern was, there was nothing capable of
producing any type of heat or electrical arcing to start a
fire." He explained a "V" pattern
"basically, is the way the fire burns. Basically, fire
burns up and out. Basically, where the 'V' pattern is
[sic] where the fire normally would start. Once it goes up,
it basically spreads out." Chief Clark found nothing
structural in that area that would have caused the fire.
Chief Clark testified the hot water heater was ruled out as
the source of the fire. Chief Clark testified the state fire
marshal concluded the fire was arson. Chief Clark did not
find any accelerant or any kind of bottle at the scene of the
his investigation, Chief Clark found that a house located one
street from the Hubertville Road residence had security
camera footage from the night in question. Although the
video footage was of poor quality, it was played for the
jury. At 8:05 a.m., a man in a green shirt walked down the
street carrying something in his hand. The man reappears at
8:08:40 a.m., walking in the direction he original came from,
and his hands are empty.
Clark identified the man in the video as the defendant, who
was his second cousin. He claimed he immediately recognized
the defendant. When asked what caused him to recognize the
defendant, Chief Clark stated, "Walk, character,
person's movement and everything like that." Chief
Clark later testified, "The walk comes back to
him." Chief Clark was sure the person he saw was the
defendant. However, Chief Clark could not say what kind of
hairstyle the man had or if he had facial hair. Chief Clark
agreed that "the person on that video [was] coming from
behind the Hubertville house."
Clark was cross-examined about the video and evidence against
the defendant as follows:
Q. Is it possible that it's not Katron on that video?
A. It can be possible. However, I've been in law
enforcement and the fire service and know my people around
Q. But you say it's possible?
Q. You don't know if K. K. has a shirt like
. . . .
A. I can't tell you what kind of shirt you have.
Q. Did you find any boots in his mom's house?
A. Never went to his mom's house.
. . . .
Q. Did you speak to the neighbor directly across ...