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State v. Harris

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 27, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAMES ONDREY HARRIS Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 15-F2430 Honorable Benjamin Jones (Pro Tempore), Judge.

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Carey J. Ellis, III, Counsel for Appellant.

          JAMES ONDREY HARRIS Pro Se.

          ROBERT S. TEW District Attorney, GEARY S. AYCOCK Assistant District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee.

          Before WILLIAMS, GARRETT, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, C.J.

         The defendant, James Ondrey Harris, was charged by bill of information with attempted second degree murder, a violation of La. R.S. 14:27 and 14:30.1. After a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty as charged. Defendant's motions for new trial and for post-verdict judgment of acquittal were denied. The trial court sentenced defendant to serve 50 years at hard labor, without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         The record shows that on September 28, 2015, Laconna Lashay Smith was transported via ambulance from her home in Monroe, Louisiana, to St. Francis Medical Center after being severely beaten and choked by the defendant. Smith was intubated and airlifted that same day to University Health Hospital in Shreveport, where she was admitted into the ICU. Days later, when Smith was able to speak, she confirmed to police that defendant was her assailant. Defendant was arrested and charged with the attempted second degree murder of Smith.

         After a trial, defendant was found guilty as charged by a unanimous jury. His pro se motions for new trial and motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal were denied following a hearing. Defendant was sentenced to 50 years at hard labor to be served without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         The defendant contends the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for attempted second degree murder. Defendant asserts that the state failed to prove that he possessed the specific intent to kill Smith.

         The standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim is whether, after viewing the evidence in a 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 (1979); State v. Tate, 2001-1658 (La. 5/20/03), 851 So.2d 921, cert. denied, 541 U.S. 905, 124 S.Ct. 1604, 158 L.Ed.2d 248 (2004); State v. Robinson, 50, 643 (La.App. 2 Cir. 6/22/16), 197 So.3d 717, writ denied, 2016-1479 (La. 5/19/17), 221 So.3d 78. This standard, now legislatively embodied in La. C.Cr.P. art. 821, does not provide the appellate court with a vehicle to substitute its own appreciation of the evidence for that of the fact finder. State v. Pigford, 2005-0477 (La. 2/22/06), 922 So.2d 517.

         The appellate court does not assess the credibility of witnesses or reweigh evidence. State v. Smith, 94-3116 (La. 10/16/95), 661 So.2d 442; State v. Mitchell, 50, 188 (La.App. 2 Cir. 11/18/15), 181 So.3d 800, writ denied, 2015-2356 (La. 1/9/17), 214 So.3d 863. A reviewing court affords great deference to a jury's ...


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