Remand from the Louisiana Supreme Court Originally Appealed
from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Lincoln, Louisiana Trial Court No. 65002 Honorable Cynthia T.
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward Kelly Bauman Counsel
JEFFREY M. LANDRY Attorney General Counsel for Appellee
A. HARRIS Assistant Attorney General
WILLIAMS, STEPHENS, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.
criminal appeal arises from the Third Judicial District
Court, Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana. The defendant,
Dumauriea Leon McGee, was charged by grand jury indictment
with second degree murder, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1.
After a jury trial, McGee was found guilty as charged and
sentenced to life imprisonment without the benefit of
probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. No motion to
reconsider sentence was filed. Initially, on appeal McGee
argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial
(among other assignments of error). This court ordered the
matter remanded to the trial court with instructions for an
evidentiary hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of
counsel. State v. McGee, 51, 977 (La.App. 2d Cir.
5/23/18), 247 So.3d 1142 ("McGee I").
However, that decision was reversed and remanded by the
Louisiana Supreme Court. State v. McGee, 2018-1052
(La. 2/25/19), --- So. 3d. ---, 2019 WL 911299
("McGee II"). For the following reasons,
we affirm McGee's conviction and sentence.
Mardis was shot and killed on May 30, 2013, in Ruston,
Louisiana, while trying to purchase marijuana from McGee, who
immediately fled the scene. McGee was arrested in
Tallahassee, Florida, by officers with the Tallahassee Police
Department and was interviewed by Detective Craig Isom on
June 3, 2013. United States Marshals transported McGee to
Louisiana, where he was taken into custody by the Ruston
Police Department on June 13, 2013. McGee was charged by
grand jury indictment with the second degree murder of
Mardis, and at arraignment, McGee pled not guilty.
McGee's trial commenced on January 9, 2017, at which he
was represented by a court-appointed attorney. The jury was
presented with the following testimony and evidence.
Lloyd Anthony Pollard, who was employed by the Ruston Police
Department on May 30, 2013, testified that he was dispatched
to a house at 1307 Benton Street in Ruston shortly after 9:00
p.m. in response to a shooting. Upon arriving, Ofc. Pollard
observed Mardis lying partially underneath a blue truck
parked in the front yard of the residence. Emergency medical
services ("EMS") and other officers were already at
the scene and informed Ofc. Pollard that Mardis was still
alive but had a weak pulse. In an effort to preserve the
scene, Ofc. Pollard took photographs prior to EMS taking
Mardis to the hospital. He also testified that he believed
Mardis crawled under the vehicle in an attempt to hide from
his shooter. Mardis was transported to a hospital, where he
Gerald Jenkins of the Ruston Police Department was also
dispatched to 1307 Benton Street and sketched the scene,
documenting where the following evidence was recovered: a
cigarette lighter, a cigarette butt, a digital scale, $11.00
in cash, three .38 caliber cartridges, a shoe impression, a
machete, two Corona beer cartons (one of which contained
marijuana), and two spent .38 caliber shell casings.
Jenkins specifically noted that the digital scale was
discovered in the ditch by Benton Street. The three live .38
caliber bullets were located near the truck, two on the
opposite side of the truck from where Mardis's body was
found and one near the rear of the truck. The two spent shell
casings were located in the paved parking lot of the Royal
Crest Apartment complex where McGee lived, which is next to
the house at 1307 Benton Street. While examining the scene,
Ofc. Jenkins noted that although there was a large bloodstain
near the truck, it was unclear where Mardis began bleeding.
Further, there were several shoe prints discovered on the
truck's driver's side but none indicated there was a
struggle. A machete was discovered in the bushes, but Ofc.
Jenkins stated his opinion that it did not appear connected
to the crime. The machete was not fingerprinted, and defense
counsel did not request it be fingerprinted. A map of the
crime scene entered into evidence at the trial indicates the
machete was located separately from the marijuana found at
Goldsmith testified that she was visiting her sister at 1307
Benton Street on the night of the shooting. Goldsmith heard
gunshots around 9:00 p.m., went outside with her sister's
boyfriend, Roderick Doss, and discovered Mardis lying
underneath her sister's truck. Doss also testified and
corroborated Goldsmith's version of events, adding that
after the shooting, Doss looked out the window before going
outside and observed McGee, whom Doss knew as
"Cali," running toward the apartment complex. Doss
did not see anything in McGee's hands. Doss identified
McGee in open court as the man he saw running on the night of
Womack testified he discovered bullets and a rusty black gun
several months after the shooting while visiting a friend who
lives at 1305 Benton Street. The gun was in some underbrush.
Womack contacted the police, and Officer Harriet Sykes
collected the gun, which was loaded. She brought the gun to
the Ruston Police Department. Both Womack and Ofc. Sykes
identified the gun in open court.
Catherine Zoll, a chemist with the North Louisiana Crime Lab
("NLCL"), was accepted as an expert in forensic
chemistry and testified that she performed a chemical
analysis on the suspected marijuana (State's Exhibit Nos.
9 and 10) collected from the scene. Zoll confirmed at trial
that the substance recovered was marijuana. Other testimony
established that it is common for drug dealers to hide their
merchandise, in packages similar to the Corona six-pack
carton containing marijuana recovered from the crime scene.
Frank Peretti, an accepted expert in medicine with a
specialty in forensic pathology, performed the autopsy on
Mardis and testified that he was killed by two gunshot
wounds, one in his upper left chest and the other in his
mid-back. The first wound was a "through and
through" and no bullet was recovered; however, Dr.
Peretti was able to retrieve a bullet from the second wound.
Both wounds appeared to be "distant gunshot
wounds," which are injuries inflicted when the gun is
two or more feet away from the target when fired. Mardis also
had two abrasions on his upper left back and sand on his face
and back. Mardis had marijuana, hydrocodone, and THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol) in his system at the time of his
Kendall Stracener, another analyst with the NLCL and accepted
expert in forensic firearm identification, testified that the
.38 caliber revolver found by Womack had its serial number
filed off, and Stracener used chemicals to recover the
number. Due to the rust inside the barrel of the revolver,
which altered the unique grooves therein, Stracener was not
able to determine whether the bullet recovered from
Mardis's body was fired from that particular revolver;
however, Stracener noted that the bullet possessed the same
class of characteristics as the referenced bullets fired
during analysis. The two spent shell casings recovered from
the scene were fired from the revolver. Finally, the bullets
and shell casings recovered from the scene, including the one
removed from Mardis's body, were all the same caliber,
brand, size, and shape.
Moore was a witness at the scene, and he testified to meeting
with Mardis, Lamarro Moore, and Patrick Pringle at
Lamarro's house on the night of the shooting at
approximately 9:00 p.m. Pringle drove the four men to Benton
Street and parked near the bushes located between the Royal
Crest Apartments and the house at 1307 Benton Street. Mardis
exited the vehicle. Nicholas saw Mardis meet with a person
wearing a hood, whom Nicholas did not recognize. Mardis
eventually returned to the vehicle, and Pringle drove them
back to Lamarro's house. Nicholas did not exit the
vehicle and could not recall whether anyone else did;
however, Pringle drove the men back to Benton Street, where
Mardis got out of the vehicle and met with the person a
second time. Nicholas, Lamarro, and Pringle remained in the
vehicle, while Mardis spoke with the person. Nicholas noted
that Mardis and the person were out of his line of vision,
but he suddenly heard what sounded like a fight. Mardis and
the person appeared in the yard of 1307 Benton Street, where
Nicholas saw the two men "swinging" at each other.
Nicholas heard a gunshot. Mardis fell, and Nicholas heard a
second gunshot-the shots were "seconds" apart-a
very short time, Nicholas described. Nicholas fled the scene
on foot and hid behind nearby houses.
Nicholas gave a statement to Ofc. Jenkins on June 3, 2013.
Following the shooting but prior to giving his statement,
Nicholas saw a television news report on the shooting, which
identified McGee as a suspect. While giving his statement,
Nicholas told Ofc. Jenkins that the man he saw in the news
report, McGee, looked like the man who shot Mardis. Nicholas
also stated that ...