FROM THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF AVOYELLES,
NO. 188, 015-B HONORABLE WILLIAM BENNETT, DISTRICT JUDGE
Annette Roach APPELLATE COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT:
Charles P. Mayeux, Jr.
Anthony F. Salario COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana
Michael Francis Kelly COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of
Charles A. Riddle, III COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John E. Conery, and D. Kent
KENT SAVOIE JUDGE.
Charles Mayeux, appeals his conviction of second degree
murder and sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor
without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of
sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
early morning hours of March 21, 2015, Defendant, who was the
Chief of Police and the Assistant Fire Chief of Evergreen,
Louisiana, called 911 to report a fire at his residence in
Evergreen. The body of Defendant's wife, Shelly, was
later found in the bedroom of the residence. They had been
married for about ten months at the time of Shelly's
death. After an investigation, Defendant was subsequently
arrested. On July 16, 2015, he was charged by grand jury
indictment with one count of second degree murder of his
wife, which is a violation of La.R.S. 14:30.1. A jury trial
was held August 28, 2017, through September 1, 2017.
introduced at trial indicated that Defendant was the only
person present with Shelly in their residence at the time of
her death. Although an autopsy was performed, the cause of
Shelly's death was undetermined. All experts agreed,
however, that Shelly died before the fire. The cause of the
fire was also undetermined; however, the fire marshal
concluded that the fire was intentionally set to cover up a
homicide. His conclusion resulted from the suspicious timing
of Shelly's death with the onset of the fire; the
Defendant's lack of effort to try to rescue Shelly
despite his training as a firefighter and despite the
proximity of both the fire station and Defendant's
firefighting gear; a history of violence between Defendant
and Shelly; a history of abusive behavior by Defendant toward
his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend; and Defendant's
inconsistent statements as to the events leading up to the
trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder by
a 10-2 jury verdict. He filed a Motion for New Trial on
September 12, 2017, which was denied by the trial court. On
September 12, 2017, the trial court sentenced Defendant to
life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence.
filed a notice of appeal on September 12, 2017, which was
granted that same date. On appeal, Defendant states the
following as assignments of error:
1. The evidence introduced at the trial of this case, when
viewed under the Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307,
99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979) standard, was
insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Charles
Mayeux committed the second degree murder of Shelly Mayeux.
2. The trial court erred in allowing evidence of other
alleged other crimes/bad acts to be admitted at trial when no
exception to the hearsay rule applied and/or the probative
value of the evidence was far outweighed by the prejudicial
effect the evidence would have on Charles Mayeux.
3. Counsel rendered assistance below that guaranteed by the
Sixth Amendment and Charles Mayeux was prejudiced as a result
of counsel's deficient performance when counsel failed to
object to the admission into evidence of the investigative
report prepared by Deputy State Fire Marshal Chase Hawthorne,
which contained inadmissible hearsay and evidence.
4. The trial court erred in providing an incorrect and/or
insufficient limiting instruction to the jury concerning
evidence admitted at trial.
5. The trial court erred in accepting Deputy State Fire
Marshal Chase Hawthorne as an expert in origin and cause and
accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After
reviewing the record, we find no errors patent.
OF ERROR NUMBER 1
contends that the evidence was insufficient to find beyond a
reasonable doubt that he committed the second degree murder
of his wife, Shelly Mayeux.
following jurisprudence sets forth the standard of review in
When the issue of sufficiency of evidence is raised on
appeal, the critical inquiry of the reviewing court is
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact
could have found the essential elements of the crime proven
beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560, rehearing
denied, 444 U.S. 890, 100 S.Ct. 195, 62 L.Ed.2d 126
(1979); State ex rel. Graffagnino v. King, 436 So.2d
559 (La.1983); State v. Duncan, 420 So.2d 1105
(La.1982); State v. Moody, 393 So.2d 1212 (La.1981).
It is the role of the fact finder to weigh the respective
credibility of the witnesses, and therefore, the appellate
court should not second guess the credibility determinations
of the triers of fact beyond the sufficiency evaluations
under the Jackson standard of review. See State
ex rel. Graffagnino, 436 So.2d 559 (citing State v.
Richardson, 425 So.2d 1228 (La.1983)). In order for this
Court to affirm a conviction, however, the record must
reflect that the state has satisfied its burden of proving
the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Kennerson, 96-1518, p. 5 (La.App. 3 Cir.
5/7/97), 695 So.2d 1367, 1371.
to affirm, the record must reflect that the State satisfied
its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt all of the
essential elements of second degree murder under the above
standard. Louisiana Revised Statute 14:30.1(A)(1) defines, in
pertinent part, second degree murder as "the killing of
a human being . . . when the offender has specific intent to
kill or to inflict great bodily harm[.]"
the instant case involves a conviction based upon
circumstantial evidence, we are further mindful of the
following in connection with our review:
When the conviction is based upon circumstantial evidence,
La.R.S. 15:438 provides that the state "must exclude
every reasonable hypothesis of innocence" in order to
convict. State v. Camp, 446 So.2d 1207, 1209
(La.1984). "Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of
collateral facts and circumstances from which elemental
factors may be inferred according to reason, experience and
common sense." State v. Burns, 441 So.2d 843,
845 (La.App. 3 Cir.1983). However, La.R.S. 15:438 does not
establish a stricter standard of review on appeal than the
rational juror's reasonable doubt standard. The statute
serves as a guide for the jury when considering
circumstantial evidence. On appeal, the issue is whether a
rational trier of fact, when viewing the evidence in a light
most favorable to the prosecution, could find that all
reasonable hypotheses of innocence were excluded. State
v. Williams, 13-497 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/6/13), 124 So.3d
1236, writ denied, 13-2774 (La. 5/16/14), 139 So.3d
State v. Baumberger, 15-1056, pp. 10-11 (La.App. 3
Cir. 6/1/16), 200 So.3d 817, 826-27, writ denied,
16-1251 (La. 5/26/17), 221 So.3d 859, cert. denied,
___U.S.___, 138 S.Ct. 392 (2017).
Defendant herein also challenges the admissibility of certain
evidence introduced at trial, we will consider all of the
evidence introduced at trial for purposes of reviewing the
record for sufficient evidence. See State v.
Hearold, 603 So.2d 731, 734 (La.1992):
When issues are raised on appeal both as to the sufficiency
of the evidence and as to one or more trial errors, the
reviewing court should first determine the sufficiency of the
evidence. The reason for reviewing sufficiency first is that
the accused may be entitled to an acquittal[.]. . . When the
entirety of the evidence, including inadmissible evidence
which was erroneously admitted, is insufficient to support
the conviction, the accused must be discharged as to that
crime . . . .
On the other hand, when the entirety of the evidence, both
admissible and inadmissible, is sufficient to support the
conviction, the accused is not entitled to an acquittal, and
the reviewing court must then consider the assignments of
trial error to determine whether the accused is entitled to a
of the Evidence
time of the incident, Defendant was the Chief of Police and
the Assistant Fire Chief of Evergreen. Defendant testified at
trial. He stated that on Friday, March 20, 2015, the day
prior to the fire, his wife Shelly had woken up sick and was
vomiting. Therefore, he stayed home with her, rather than
going to work. According to Defendant, Shelly told him that
she might be having a miscarriage. However, there was
evidence reflecting that Shelly had previously had a tubal
ligation; but, Defendant denied knowledge of that. Defendant
testified that Shelly would not stop vomiting and that they
drove to the hospital that morning. However, he could not
make Shelly go inside the hospital; therefore, they left the
hospital and stopped to get gas in Bunkie.
further testified that on March 20, 2015, he had responded to
a police call regarding horses that were loose on the
highway. He indicated that a horse was behind his house, so
he searched for it on foot; however, he was unable to find
stated that when he returned home from the call, he and
Shelly began making plans for picking up Shelly's
children. He told Shelly he would go pick up his paycheck
from work and then go pick up the children. He testified that
after picking up his check, traffic caused him to run late;
therefore, the stepmother of Shelly's two sons called
him. Defendant indicated that after he had picked up the
children, he brought them to Shelly's mother's house.
He then stopped at Walmart to purchase medicine for Shelly,
and then stopped at Family Dollar in Cottonport to purchase
soup and crackers for Shelly. He testified that it was
approximately 5:00 p.m. and still daylight when he returned
home. He indicated that later that evening, Shelly had quit
vomiting, they watched television, and then laid in bed
together and had sexual intercourse.
to Defendant, he then spoke to his dad about a new truck, and
asked Shelly if she wanted to ride with him to his dad's
house in Bunkie. While driving, Defendant received a call
from Mr. Rushing Juneau. Defendant testified that they never
made it to his dad's house because Shelly had gotten
also indicated that, as a police officer, he had made
"rounds" on March 20, 2015, prior to the fire. He
explained that he typically made rounds at night, before
going to bed, and, at trial, he described his route as
A. I leave my home, that's my home, I usually check the
fire station, my sister use [sic] to live here and I use
[sic] to make a round and I'll cross the bayou, I had the
senior apartments here, I go through the parking lot,
that's what's good about being a police officer in a
small town, you know everybody, so if something's out of
place, you recognize it, I check on my old people and I go
down College, C.G. Lobin Construction is right here, I check
that business, because it's attempted to be broken into
before, I check all, I go down College, the Baptist church
and cemetery is right her.
. . . .
A. I check this area, I come across, there some apartments in
this area that I have trouble with sometimes with people that
live there, so I always look that area [sic], the park is
right here, I use [sic] to have a lot of problems with people
hanging out drinking right here.
. . . .
A. I checked the park because I had trouble with people with
loitering, drinking, and stuff like that, and there's a
little, there was a little store right here, a little mom and
pop store I call it, it closes at like 3:00 in the afternoon,
I'll check the catholic church, the K.C. Hall, the
rectory, the cemetery back here.
Q. That's a different cemetery, so there [sic] two
A. I mean yeah, that's all we got in Evergreen, you know
I'll go the Burn's road, my city limits end in this
area just like here, here on the highways, I'll go a
little bit further.
A. Because the Sherriff's[sic] office is, their [sic]
busy, they have a lot more traffic than I do, so sometimes
I'll go a little bit further out if there's like
about this area is a big tractor shed for a farm, so
sometimes I'll just go out at night and I turn around
there, just shine the spot light make sure no one's
breaking in and I have to turn around anyway, I do it on the
Burn's road, there's a potato plant right here,
sometimes I shine my light at the potato plant, I know the
guy that owns it, I do it as a favor, I'll go back down
Hills Street and we have the Sewer plant that's back here
and believe it or not, people will break in to a sewer plant,
there's tools, there's chemicals and I'll go . .
Q. Let me ask you, does your fire, is your fire district
bigger than your city limits?
A. It's a lot bigger than the city limits, my fire
district goes almost to Goudeau, and around this COOP [sic],
it's a lot bigger than the city limits.
Q. We're talking about the rounds that you make every
A. It's a little gravel road, I'll check the sewer
plant right here, my city limit on end [sic] here, I mean I
don't care to turn around right at the city limits.
Q. Do you have jurisdiction outside the city to make an
A. Of course, yeah, if you're assisting the Sheriff's
office or another town, yeah, you're a police officer.
Q. How many miles from your house to where we are right now,
A. May be a mile.
explained that the night of March 20, 2015, he had made
rounds along the route he described, but he did not remember
where he had turned around. He stated that when he returned
home, it was dark, and he and Shelly wanted to rent a movie.
He also went to the fire department to get a laptop computer.
other witnesses testified concerning communications they had
with Defendant and Shelly on March 20, 2015, the day prior to
the fire. Briana Rabalais, an employee of the Avoyelles
Parish Sheriff's office and Shelly's co-worker,
testified that Shelly had called in sick the morning of March
20, 2015, and sounded very upset at the time. Ms. Rabalais
also indicated that she had called Shelly later in the day
and that Shelly sounded irritated.
addition, Brian Bordelon, the owner of a trucking company for
which Defendant worked, testified that on March 20, 2015,
Defendant sent him an email or text indicating that Shelly
had miscarried the night before and that he would be staying
home with her. Mr. Bordelon stated that typically Shelly
would pick up Defendant's paycheck, but that on March 20,
2015, Defendant had picked it up and Shelly was not with him.
Bordelon, who was the stepmother of Shelly's two sons,
testified that on March 20, 2015, Shelly was scheduled to
pick up her sons from her between 4:00 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
When Shelly did not arrive as scheduled, she called
Defendant's phone since Shelly did not have one, and
Defendant answered telling her he was at the dentist for a
broken tooth. Defendant, however, denied, making this
statement to Ms. Bordelon. Ms. Bordelon also indicated that
when Defendant finally arrived to pick up the boys, he was by
himself, which was unusual, and that Defendant told her
Shelly was sick.
was also scheduled to have visitation with her daughter the
weekend of the fire. Sherie Lemoine, Shelly's
daughter's stepmother, testified that on March 20, 2015,
she received a message indicating that Shelly would pick up
her daughter at 5:30 p.m. because they only had one vehicle.
The daughter, however, wanted to stay with her stepmother
because they were boiling crawfish, so she tried to call her
mother on Defendant's phone. She talked to Defendant and
indicated she might not go. Shelly's daughter called back
later and told Defendant she did want to go to their house,
and Defendant told her he was not sure if he would be able to
pick her up by 7:30 p.m. Defendant ultimately did not show up
at all, without notice. According to Ms. Lemoine, this was
unusual, as Shelly would always let her know whether or not
she was coming to pick up her daughter.
testified that on March 20, 2015, the night before the fire,
he had fallen asleep on the couch watching a Will Farrell
movie and Shelly had fallen asleep in the recliner. He
indicated that in the early hours of March 21, 2015, he woke
up to the fire, but did not "hear wood popping, wood
splitting, like you do in a normal fire." At that point,
he thought the house was "smoldering," so he got
up, but did not see Shelly. He thought that maybe she
"went to the bedroom or she ran out of the house",
and he indicated that her blanket was still in the chair
where she had fallen asleep. He testified that he then
"got down" and crawled and tried to scream for
Shelly, but that his "voice would cut out." Then he
went outside. He stated that he did not see flames because of
all the smoke, and that he did not have his "SCBA, which
would be the face mask, the air pack," with him, as it
was at the fire station. Defendant further explained that
when he was exiting the house, he passed by the carport door
and went towards the back door instead, but that he did not
know why he did this.
testified that when he left the house, he was coughing,
throwing up, and trying to catch his breath. He stated that,
although he could not holler, he looked for Shelly. He
further indicated that he saw flames rolling out of the
bedroom window but saw no flames in the rest of house, and he
called 911 three times.
testified he called 911 and then "went back in the
house" to find Shelly. He indicated that he was able to
make it "to the bar." When he went out of the
house, he then heard ammunition "going off" inside,
which he stated sounded like "hand grenades." He
explained that he had boxes of rifle bullets and other
shotgun shells in the house. He then stated that he tried to
go back into the house for a third time but was not able to
go very far and he then ran out of the house. He testified
that something had hit him in the head, although it did not
cause him any injury, and he noted that ceiling tiles were
falling. Defendant further explained that, at that point, he
was "hysterical" and could not remember if he
"crawled, ran, [or] skipped, the third time[.]"
of Defendant's calls to Avoyelles Parish 911 was
submitted at trial. Defendant's first call was at 2:08
a.m. on March 21, 2015. Over the course of five minutes,
Defendant called 911 three times. He told the 911 operator
that his wife was in the residence, that he could not get her
out, and that bullets were "going off" in the
residence. During the calls, Defendant did not give his full
name or address, and emphasized his concern for the safety of
the firefighters. He explained he did not give his name or
address because he thought the 911 operator recognized his
Armand, the Fire Chief of the Evergreen Fire Department,
responded to Defendant's 911 calls, and he testified at
trial. He explained that he and Defendant were close friends,
Defendant had been his assistant at the Evergreen Fire
Department for about seven years, and Defendant was trained
as an EMT. Chief Armand further testified that, as a fireman,
Defendant was issued "turnout gear," consisting of
a coat, pants, hood, gloves, and a helmet. He also noted that
on March 20, 2015, the day prior to the fire, Defendant did
not stop by for his usual visit because, according to
Defendant, "they were all sick or throwing up[.]"
to Chief Armand, Defendant's residence was approximately
450 feet from the Evergreen Fire Department, Defendant had
the code to access the fire station, and he knew how to
operate the fire truck. He also testified that when he
received Defendant's 911 call, the fire truck was at the
station with the keys inside the truck.
receiving the 911 call, Chief Armand drove the fire truck
from the Evergreen Fire Department to Defendant's
residence. He testified that when he arrived at the scene, he
saw a fire on the left rear side of Defendant's
residence. While he was handling the fire hose, he saw
Defendant running in the opposite direction, back towards the
carport of the residence. Defendant did not speak to him.
Chief Armand indicated that he attempted to fight the fire
from the outside of the house because, at the time, he was
the only one who had arrived at the scene. He also testified
that he was panicked and upset because he was friends with
Frank, the Fire Chief of Bunkie, also testified at trial. He
had received a page at 2:20 a.m. on March 21, 2015,
concerning the fire at issue. At trial, Chief Frank was
accepted without objection as an expert in the field of
firefighting. He testified that he arrived on the scene about
seven or eight minutes after receiving the page, and when he
did, other men from his department were already there. He
described the fire as a "small cage" fire,
"meaning that the whole building was not engulfed in
Defendant's warning that bullets were "going
off" in the residence, Chief Frank's men entered the
residence to extinguish the fire. Chief Frank, and others,
testified that while it was necessary to be aware of the
ammunition, the ammunition was not being used as a weapon,
and therefore it would simply "pop" like a
firecracker, causing the casing to burst. There was also
evidence indicating that Defendant had previously pawned his
service weapon, and only Defendant's duty belt with its
"mags" was in the bedroom.
Frank indicated that one of his men first extinguished the
fire in the kitchen without turnout gear, and then, with full
gear, his men extinguished the remaining fire. According to
Chief Frank, the fire was under control in twenty-five to
thirty minutes. Chief Frank also indicated that Defendant
never voiced any concern about getting his wife out of the
residence, and Defendant never had to be restrained from
going inside the residence.
Hawthorne, a Deputy State Fire Marshall, also testified at
trial. He was accepted as an expert in origin and cause of
fire. He indicated that he arrived at the scene at
approximately 3:15 a.m. or 3:20 a.m., at which time, the fire
was under control.
Hawthorne testified that Shelly's body was found in the
bedroom and that the bedroom was where the fire had
originated. He noted that the fire was still burning when he
arrived at the scene, the bedroom door was closed, the bed
was still intact, and the mattress had not burned. Mr.
Hawthorne also explained that Shelly's body was found
face down, in a boxer's stance, which suggested to him
that she had made no attempt to move away from the intense
heat of the fire, which he explained had originated on the
right side of Shelly's body. This observation lead Mr.
Hawthorne to opine that Shelly had died before the fire. He
further indicated that the couch on which Defendant alleged
he was sleeping when the fire started was twelve to fourteen
feet away from where Shelly's body was found. Mr.
Hawthorne also noted that Defendant left a door to the
residence open, which he suggested would allow the fire to
receive more oxygen and grow faster.
Hawthorne also testified that while he was investigating the
scene, Defendant appeared in the bedroom window. He asked
Defendant to leave the crime scene and noted that Defendant
became upset at the reference to a crime scene. Mr. Hawthorne
asked Defendant to submit a statement, and he read
Defendant's statement, which was written at 6:08 a.m. on
March 21, 2015, into the record, stating as follows:
A. "Friday morning I woke up with my wife she was sick
and called in to work, we both went back to bed and got up
again at 8, she took a bath we watched TV for a little while
and she went back to bed. I took care of different chores
around the house." I'm assuming that says like
laundry. "At about 1:15 my wife got up again and went
lay on the recliner she asked me if I would go get the kids
and bring them to her mom's house because she was not
feeling good. I picked up the boys at Wendy's at 4:30 and
brought them to their grandmother, my mother-in-law I stayed
for about 30 minutes. I went to Wal-Mart to pick up my meds
and look for some nausea meds for Shelly. On my way home I
stopped at the Dollar Store picked up some Sprite and soup
for Shelly. I came back home, I talked to my dad on the
phone, I put up the things from the store, and put some
clothes in the dryer. Shelly was still sleeping I went to
Bayou Express in Cottonport and got something to eat. I came
back home and Shelly was up. I told her I got her some soup
but she did not want to eat. We watched TV for a little
while. I asked if she wanted to get out the house, she said
yes. We left to go to my dad's but the ride was making
her sick, we turned around at the old co-op across from DC-2
and came back home. We started to watch a movie around 9:35
and I fell asleep. I woke up after getting hot and coughing
and when I woke up everything was black. I tried to get to
the bedroom but could not get past the TV because it was too
hot and bullets were going off. I went outside to see if she
made it out. I called dispatch and went back in the house, I
got about mid-way through the kitchen but could not go
further. I went back outside after hearing more bullets going
off. I fell in the grass, threw up, that's when I first .
. . that's when the first fire truck pulled up."
gave another statement at the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's
Office at 11:50 a.m. on March 21, 2015, at which time he
voluntarily turned over his clothing and cell phone and
submitted to DNA testing. According to Hawthorne, at this
time, Defendant showed no signs of injury, and his clothes
did not smell of smoke. This was confirmed by the testimony
of Michael Cammack, a detective with the Avoyelles Parish
Sheriff's Office, who was present during the March
Hawthorne testified that Defendant added additional
information to his story in connection with his second
statement, including that Defendant had been watching a Will
Farrell movie prior to the fire. Mr. Hawthorne indicated that
the movie case was found at the scene, however, no DVD was
found in the DVD player.
Hawthorne also testified Defendant had revealed to him that
he and Shelly routinely fought and discussed divorce; but
that, around the time of the fire, they had not fought
because his wife was sick.
Detective Cammack testified that Defendant admitted he and
Shelly fought often, with Shelly often asking for divorce.
Defendant, however, denied physically abusing Shelly.
According to Detective Cammack, Defendant had also revealed
that, while he had not physically abused any other women with
whom he had previously had relationships, he had pinned one
of the women against the wall.
Hawthorne and Detective Cammack also testified that, when the
officers sought to collect Defendant's clothes during the
interview, Defendant, without prompting, voluntarily stated
that he and Shelly had sexual intercourse around 5:00 p.m.
the night of the fire, despite Defendant's indication
that Shelly was sick that day.
Cammack further testified that Defendant explained he had
tried to go into the residence to rescue Shelly several
times, but the smoke and heat prevented him from doing so and
that he did not think about using the police radio in his
possession, despite his training. Detective Cammack further
noted that one of the back doors to Defendant's residence
had previously been kicked in because Defendant was angry
about keys being left in the house, and that the door to
Defendant's office as chief of police had also been
kicked in. Defendant described himself to the detectives as a
"hot head" and that he had a "firecracker
Cammack interviewed Defendant a second time in July 2015, and
he testified as to several inconsistencies in Defendant's
statements. For example, he noted that Defendant suggested
during the first interview that his wife had been vomiting
the day of the fire; but during the second interview, he
stated she had a miscarriage. Defendant also indicated to
Cammack that his wife was bleeding badly, and he had
convinced her to go to the Bunkie hospital; however, when
they arrived at the hospital, they did not go in and went
back home. Defendant also indicated that his wife was not
bleeding when they had sex prior to the ...