FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON,
NO. 89486 AM HONORABLE SCOTT WESTERCHIL, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Skinner, District Attorney Lea R. Hall, Jr., Assistant
District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana.
Christie Smith, IV SmithAdvocates, LLC, Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: Michael Lee Walls.
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy H. Ezell, and Candyce G.
R. COOKS, JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
21, 2016, Defendant, Michael Lee Walls, was indicted on one
count of molestation of a juvenile when the offender has
control or supervision over the juvenile, in violation of
La.R.S. 14:81.2(A)(1); and one count of indecent behavior
with a juvenile under the age of thirteen, in violation of
La.R.S. 14:81(A)(1) and 14:81(H)(2). The molestation charge
was based upon allegations that Defendant, while having
supervision of the juvenile, had "anal sexual
intercourse" with S.H. The indecent behavior charge was
based upon facts alleging Defendant chased S.H.'s sister,
J.H., "while wearing Sponge Bob underwear with his penis
a multi-day trial, a unanimous jury found Defendant guilty as
charged on both counts on March 23, 2017. The trial court
ordered a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI). On May 24, 2017,
the trial court sentenced Defendant to eighteen years at hard
labor for the molestation of a juvenile charge and eighteen
years at hard labor without the benefits of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence for the indecent behavior
charge. Noting the case involved "an issue of having
occurred on multiple occasions to multiple victims," the
trial court ordered the two sentences to run consecutively to
26, 2017, Defendant filed a "Motion to Reconsider
Sentence," arguing his sentences were excessive as they
were partially based upon disputed evidence and that
Defendant's age (sixty-three years old) and health meant
the thirty-six year total sentence was essentially a life
sentence. The trial court denied the motion.
December, 2018, this court noticed, and the State raised in
its brief, that Defendant's brief was devoid of any page
references to the record, in violation of Uniform
Rules-Courts of Appeal, Rule 2-12.4(A), which requires an
appellant's brief to contain "reference to the
specific page numbers of the record and citations to the
authorities on which the appellant relies."
counsel was verbally notified he had until January 7, 2019,
to file an amended brief containing record references, with a
written order stating the same sent on December 26, 2018. On
January 11, 2019, this court received a faxed courtesy copy
of said brief which was unsigned and included a certificate
of service noting "a copy of this Brief has been served
on all parties at the addresses set forth below by depositing
same into the U.S. Mail on the 31[sic] day of October
2018." On January 16, 2019, this court received a signed
original of Defendant's Supplemental Brief. The brief was
postmarked on January 14, 2019. A review found, after
comparing the page references to the record, none of them are
accurate aside from the references pertaining to
Defendant's assignment of error number one.
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, there is an error in the commitment
order that requires correcting.
sentencing, the trial court ordered the sentences to be
served consecutively. Although the minutes of sentencing
correctly reflect the sentences were ordered to be served
consecutively, the commitment order does not provide so,
stating "[t]his sentence shall be concurrent with any or
every sentence the offender is now serving[.]" There is
no other statement in the commitment order as to the
imposition of the sentences to run consecutively. Therefore,
we order the commitment order to be corrected to accurately
reflect the trial court's imposition of the sentences to
run consecutively to one another.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
first assignment of error, Defendant contends he should
receive a new trial on the grounds the trial court erred in
denying his for cause challenge to strike a juror, Ms. Shawn
Moak. Defendant alleges this forced him to use a peremptory
challenge to remove her. However, as noted by the State,
there is no evidence in the record to support Defendant's
claim that he used a peremptory strike to remove Ms. Moak.
March 21, 2017, after Ms. Moak had been tentatively accepted
as a juror, the trial court held a hearing outside the
presence of the jury regarding use of certain evidence under
La.Code Evid. art. 412.2. At that time, the trial court also
took up the issue of Defendant's claim that, while being
transported to the courthouse that morning, he and Ms. Moak
"made eye contact and I could just tell by the
expression on her face that she recognized me."
Defendant stated that he was dressed in the same civilian
clothing he was wearing during court and that he was
unshackled while riding in the front seat of the marked
police unit in which he was being transferred. Defendant
testified he immediately informed Ben West of the Vernon
Parish Sheriff's Office, the officer transporting him to
the courthouse, whom Defendant claimed told him "not to
worry about it."
West confirmed he was in uniform while transporting
Defendant. Deputy West testified they saw two ladies walking
across the street, and Defendant recognized one of them as a
juror in his case. Subsequently, Ms. Shawn Moak was called
into the courtroom and the following exchange occurred
between Ms. Moak and the trial court:
Q. Okay. My question that I have to you, Ms.
Moak, is as far as today is concerned, at any time have you
seen Mr. Walls outside of the courthouse or the courtroom
A. No, sir.
Q. You're clear about that?