APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 17-5773, DIVISION
"J" HONORABLE STEPHEN C. GREFER, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D.
Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Juliet L. Clark
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, JOSEPH BECNEL Bruce G.
Whittaker DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, JOSEPH BECNEL In Proper Person
composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Stephen J. Windhorst, and
John J. Molaison, Jr.
J. MOLAISON, JR. JUDGE
appeals his conviction and sentence for purse snatching. For
the reasons that follow, defendant's conviction and
sentence are affirmed.
Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of
information on September 8, 2017, charging defendant, Joseph
Becnel, with one count of purse snatching, in violation of
La. R.S. 14:65.1. After pleading not guilty on September 20,
2017, defendant proceeded to trial before a six-person jury
on May 30, 2018, at the conclusion of which he was found
guilty as charged. On June 27, 2018, defendant was sentenced
to 17 years imprisonment in the Department of Corrections.
Defendant's written motion for appeal, filed pro
se on the same date of his sentencing, was granted by
the trial court on July 9, 2018. The instant appeal followed.
trial, the victim, Lisa Reyes, testified that on the
afternoon of July 23, 2017, she and Amanda Knight, along with
Knight's two children, drove to a gas station in Bridge
to withdraw money from an ATM. Reyes placed $100 in cash from
the ATM into her wallet, which already contained $30 in
bills, and then began to put the wallet into her front
pocket. As she did so, a man approached her from behind,
pushed up against her, reached into her pocket, and took her
wallet. As her wallet was being taken, Reyes fell through the
driver's side doorway, which was open at that time. Reyes
described resisting or struggling to retain her wallet and
get back up. Reyes then unsuccessfully chased after defendant
on foot. Reyes stated that she located her wallet the
following day in the area where it was taken from her, and
that only the cash was missing from it.
positively identified defendant in court as the individual
who took her wallet. Reyes further testified that upon being
shown the initial photographic lineup, she narrowed it down
to two individuals but ultimately selected defendant's
photograph, realizing the age difference between the
individuals depicted in the two photographs.
trial testimony of Amanda Knight largely corroborated
Reyes' testimony, and she described how defendant
approached Reyes and "forced her on the side of her car
and pushed her up against the car and stole her wallet out of
Helgason testified that on July 23, 2017, he was driving down
Bridge City Avenue in Westwego, when he observed an
African-American male walk behind a car in a gas station
parking lot. At the time, there were two women standing
outside of the car and two children in the back seat.
Helgason watched the man approach the car and reach inside at
the same time one of the women was entering. Soon after,
Helgason heard a woman yell that her wallet had been stolen
by the same man he had seen earlier. Helgason testified that
one of the women in the car chased the man underneath the
Huey P. Long Bridge. While Helgason called 9-1-1, the
perpetrator went out of view.
Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy Daniel Carter testified
that he was dispatched to the scene of a reported purse
snatching. After arriving, Deputy Carter interviewed
Helgason, Reyes, Knight, and Knight's two minor children.
Reyes told Deputy Carter that the man who took her wallet had
done so by putting his hand into her pocket and lunging
forward between the car door and the car, catching her off
guard in the process. Deputy Carter's search of the
immediate area did not yield the wallet at that time. In
reviewing the gas station's ...