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State v. Vanhorn

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 10, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAMES MICAH VANHORN Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 291, 834 Honorable Brady D. O'Callaghan, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Douglas Harville Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES EDWARD STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          TOMMY JAN JOHNSON RON CHRISTOPHER STAMPS CHARLES KENNETH PARR Assistant District Attorneys

          Before MOORE, STONE, and COX, JJ.

          COX, J.

         This criminal appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Following a bench trial, the defendant, James Micah Vanhorn, was found guilty as charged of attempted armed robbery. Vanhorn was sentenced to serve 12 years at hard labor, without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Vanhorn now appeals his conviction and sentence.[1] For the following reasons, we affirm Vanhorn's conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         On November 10, 2010, Robert Stuart Douglas and Vanhorn were charged with the attempted armed robbery of Jordan Willis, committed on October 27, 2010, in violation of La. R.S. 14:64 and La. R.S. 14:27. Both defendants were tried together and both defendants were represented by the same attorney.[2]

         Sergeant Tim Adgate, of the Shreveport Police Department, testified that on October 27, 2010, he was the first responder to a 911 call for a home invasion at 9307 Wiscassett Drive in Shreveport, Louisiana. Sgt. Adgate found a white male, with duct tape around his wrists and ankles, holding a 12-gauge shotgun and standing over another male, who was covered in blood and lying face down on the ground. A third male, with blood running down his face, was also on the ground to the side of the first two men. The man with the gun and the man with blood on his face repeatedly asked the man lying on the ground, "Why?" Sgt. Adgate secured the shotgun and identified the holder as Jordan Willis, who lived in the Wiscassett Drive home owned by his father, James Willis. Sgt. Adgate identified the man with blood running down his face as Jordan's brother, Dillon Willis. Sgt. Adgate testified that Jordan told him that the man lying on the ground was one of two men who "busted in" their house, identified themselves as narcotics officers, and then wrapped Jordan's and James' wrists, feet, and head in duct tape. Sgt. Adgate later learned that the man lying on the ground was Vanhorn.

         Shreveport Police Detective John Jackson, who also responded to the 911 call, testified that James had duct tape on his wrists and ankles and that he had scratches and bruises. Det. Jackson testified that James told him the following:

• He answered a knock at the door and two men identified themselves as narcotics officers and forced their way inside.
• The intruders told him that they were there on a marijuana complaint and asked if anyone else was present.
• He told them his son, Jordan, was upstairs.
• One man proceeded up the stairs to get Jordan, and the other man began binding him with duct tape.
• After Jordan was brought downstairs, the intruders began binding Jordan with duct tape too.
• His other son, Dillon, arrived at the house, and one of the men used a black, semiautomatic handgun to strike Dillon.
• He and his sons realized the men were not law enforcement officers and fought back.
• As Dillon struggled with the man with the gun, Jordan broke loose from the duct tape and retrieved a shotgun.
• When Jordan fired the shotgun, the man with the gun ran outside and drove off in a white car.
• He, Dillon, and Jordan were able to catch the other man, and restrain him until police arrived.

         Shreveport Police Detective Shawn Parker also responded to the home invasion call and testified about statements he took from Jordan and Dillon. He testified that both of them were in shock. Det. Parker testified that Jordan told him the following:

• He was asleep in bed when a white man wearing sunglasses and a hat woke him up and dragged him downstairs to the kitchen, where another larger white man was binding his dad with duct tape.
• The intruders wrapped his and his dad's wrists and feet, and then their heads with duct tape.
• When he heard his brother Dillon walk in, he asked Dillon if he saw any badges on the intruders.
• When Dillon said he did not see any badges, Jordan struggled loose from the duct tape, retrieved a shotgun, and fired it into the living room.
• When he fired the shotgun, the bigger man ran out of the house and drove off in a white vehicle, but Dillon and James caught the other man.
• He, his dad, and his brother struggled with the other man, and he struck the man on the back of the head with the butt of the shotgun.

         Det. Parker testified that Jordan still had duct tape around his wrists and ankles and that residue from the tape remained around his eyes, indicating where the tape had been. Det. Parker testified that he believed Jordan was in shock because Jordan appeared very emotional, his hands were shaking, he voice was broken, and he was pacing back and forth.

         Det. Parker testified that Dillon told him the following:

• In an earlier phone conversation, he told his dad that he would stop by the house.
• When he arrived, he saw a white Toyota parked in the driveway and thought painters were at the house as part of some recent renovations.
• After he entered the house, he found his dad and his brother with duct tape wrapped around their heads.
• A large white man with a gun grabbed him and threw him against the wall, pistol-whipped him with a black, semiautomatic ...

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