Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 318, 083 Honorable
Ramona L. Emanuel, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for
BREONNE WHITAKER Pro Se
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney, TOMMY JAN JOHNSON WILLIAM
JACOB EDWARDS Assistant District Attorneys Counsel for
PITMAN, STONE, and McCALLUM, JJ.
Whitaker was convicted of second degree murder for the
shooting death of Frederick Henderson. Whitaker, who was 17
years old at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence. He now appeals that
sentence. Because of the mandates of the respective Supreme
Courts of the United States and Louisiana and those of the
legislature of Louisiana (La. C. Cr. P. art. 878.1), we are
required to allow the trial judge an opportunity to conduct a
hearing to articulate her reasons for sentencing.
early morning hours of September 11, 2013, Shreveport Police
Department officers responded to what they thought was a
single-vehicle accident involving a GMC Envoy which had
struck a utility pole on Hollywood Avenue in Shreveport.
Frederick Henderson, the unrestrained driver, was the lone
occupant of the vehicle. Although Henderson was sitting in
the driver's seat, his upper body was slumped over into
the front passenger area. Henderson, whose basketball shorts
were pulled down to his mid-thigh, was not breathing and had
no pulse. After paramedics began working on Henderson, they
discovered that he had suffered a single gunshot wound.
detectives spoke with Henderson's family, they learned
that Henderson was gay and that some time ago he had been
involved in an altercation with a male on Kent Avenue during
which his earring was torn from his ear. Kent, which
intersects with Hollywood, was about a block away from where
the Envoy hit the utility pole. The detectives later
determined that Henderson had been shot near a business at
the intersection of Hollywood and Kent.
purse containing two cell phones was found in the vehicle.
Detectives were able to obtain access to the contents of the
phones. They noticed several missed calls and that a call
from 318-779-1507 came in shortly before the accident was
reported. Detectives also noticed that one of the last
Facebook messages received by Henderson was from Whitaker.
This message, which left the 318-779-1507 number, stated that
Whitaker had been trying to call Henderson, but the calls
were going straight to voice mail.
then went to Whitaker's home on Kent Street where they
found Whitaker asleep on a couch. Before the detectives had a
chance to explain their presence, Whitaker asked if the
police were there about that "punk." Whitaker first
told the detectives that his friend Isiah Childs had shot a
"punk." After the detectives let Whitaker know that
they were aware of the prior altercation with Henderson, he
admitted to them that he knew the victim. He also told them
that the first time that he encountered Henderson was when he
caught him engaging in oral sex with Childs in his backyard.
Henderson's earring was snatched during the ensuing
scuffle. Whitaker told the detectives that he fired a gun at
Henderson because Henderson had been following him and trying
to get him into his car, and that he was scared because he
had been raped when he was younger.
led the detectives to a gun hidden beneath a blanket in a
shed behind a nearby residence. The recovered gun was a
Stallard Arms JS 9mm pistol. Whitaker also showed the police
where a magazine was located in a garbage can. The magazine
contained four 9mm cartridges.
eventually told the detectives that Henderson was going to
take him to visit a girl that Henderson knew, but those plans
were abandoned because the girl's boyfriend was home.
Henderson then drove Whitaker to an area near Mall St.
Vincent in Shreveport, where Whitaker allowed Henderson to
perform oral sex on him in the vehicle in exchange for $50.
Whitaker also agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with
Henderson, but was unable to complete the act. Whitaker
claimed that when they returned to Kent, Henderson grabbed
his shirt as he exited the vehicle. Whitaker then fired one
shot at Henderson and ran away. He added that he returned
when he heard the Envoy crash into the utility pole before
running away again toward his home.
was arrested and subsequently indicted for second degree
murder. A jury trial before Judge Ramona Emanuel began in
December of 2015. The jury heard testimony from Shreveport
Police Department patrol officers, homicide detectives, crime
scene investigators, and a DNA analyst regarding their
investigation of the murder.
James Traylor, a forensic pathologist at LSUHSC-Shreveport,
testified that the cause of Henderson's death was blood
loss from the gunshot. The bullet entered Henderson's
upper right arm and then continued into his chest. The bullet
traveled left to right, top to bottom, and slightly from
front to back. Dr. Traylor did not find any evidence of blunt
force trauma, and any injuries he observed were from the
gunshot. A single 9mm bullet was recovered from Henderson.
Davis, a forensic scientist at the North Louisiana Crime Lab,
testified that a bullet test-fired from the recovered gun had
the same class characteristics as the bullet recovered from
Henderson. He could not conclude that the recovered bullet
was fired from that specific gun because it did not make
sufficient individual markings on a fired bullet in order for
him to do further comparison. Nonetheless, he could not
exclude the gun as having fired the bullet that was found.
noted earlier, Whitaker originally told detectives that his
friend Isiah Childs had shot Henderson. Childs happened to be
in a youth challenge program in Minden at the time of the
shooting. Childs testified about what happened on the date
that Whitaker tore the earring out of Henderson's ear.
Childs explained that he was at Whitaker's house when
they took several photos of Whitaker and texted them to
various numbers using Childs's phone. A
"Frederica" replied, and Whitaker told Childs that
"Frederica" was coming to the house to meet him.
When "Frederica" arrived, Childs thought that
"Frederica" was, in fact, a man. Childs left
momentarily. Upon returning, he saw "Frederica" run
next door while screaming for help. Childs thought the
incident was humorous because Whitaker had been
"played." Childs denied ever having sex with
another male at Whitaker's home.
Feaster, who has a child with Whitaker, testified that she
knew Henderson from a party they had attended and that he
often dressed as a woman. She recalled one occasion when
Henderson drove past as she and Whitaker were walking down
her street. Whitaker asked her if she knew Henderson, and
then he said that he will "get some money from the
faggot." This happened about a month before Henderson
Horton testified that Henderson was her only son. He was 23
years old when he was murdered. Horton stated that Henderson
helped care for a sister who has cerebral palsy as well as
for an elderly great-aunt.
December 10, 2015, Whitaker was convicted of second degree
murder. The verdict was unanimous. On December 30, Judge
Emanuel, without additional comment, sentenced him to life
imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence.
December 18, 2015, Whitaker filed a motion for post-verdict
judgment of acquittal.
January 25, 2016, Whitaker filed a motion to reconsider and
vacate what he alleged was an unconstitutionally excessive
sentence. On April 29, 2016, Whitaker filed a motion to
correct his allegedly illegal sentence under Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407
25, 2016, Whitaker filed a pro-se motion for new
trial. The trial court denied this ...