Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 10, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JAMES WILLIAMS Appellant

          Appealed from the Forty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of DeSoto, Louisiana Trial Court No. 17CR28277 Honorable Amy B. McCartney, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          GARY V. EVANS District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          CLOYCE CLARK, III KENNETH P. HAINES Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, COX, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          WILLIAMS, C.J.

         The defendant, James Williams, was charged by bill of information with two counts of distribution of a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A). Following a bench trial, the defendant was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor for each conviction, to be served concurrently. For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's convictions and sentences. However, we remand this matter to the trial court with instructions to amend the court minutes to correctly reflect that, pursuant to La. R.S. 40:967(B)(4)(b), the first two years of the defendant's sentences are to be served without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

         FACTS

         On April 21, 2016, deputies from the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office met with a confidential informant ("CI") to conduct controlled buys of crack cocaine from the defendant, James Williams. The CI was wired with an audio/video recording device and was given money to purchase the drugs. On two occasions - April 21, 2016, and May 3, 2016 - the CI met with the defendant at arranged locations where the drug transactions were completed.[1] The body camera worn by the CI recorded the transactions.

         The defendant was arrested and charged by bill of information with two counts of distribution of a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance ("CDS") (cocaine), in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A). Subsequently, the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.

         A bench trial was conducted on March 20, 2018, during which Sergeant Chato Atkins and Sergeant Justin Taylor of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office testified with regard to their investigation. According to the witnesses, the target of the operation was "Bo Hogan," who was later identified as the defendant.

         The two law enforcement officers testified that on both April 21, 2016, and May 3, 2016, they met with a CI for controlled narcotics buys in Mansfield, Louisiana.[2] The officers had determined that the CI was reliable because he had completed undercover drug buys for them in six to eight previous cases. On both dates, the CI made contact with the defendant by telephone, met the defendant at an arranged location, purchased drugs from the defendant, returned to the officers, and gave them the drugs purchased. Both transactions were recorded.[3]

         Sgt. Atkins testified that the CI was previously arrested after being found in possession of a crack pipe, but he was not prosecuted for that charge in exchange for his help with the controlled drug buys. Sgt. Atkins admitted that the CI was a drug user and a "criminal," and he could have been buying and using drugs while making the controlled buys for them.

         Regarding the first transaction, on April 21, 2016, the video depicted the following: the CI was outfitted with the camera; the officer stated that the CI was given $70 and had been searched; the CI began walking and called the defendant to tell him that he was on his way to meet him; a vehicle stopped in the road, with the defendant in the passenger seat; after a brief conversation, the defendant handed the CI cocaine, and the CI handed the defendant $50; the CI asked for $20 more in cocaine; the defendant stated that he did not have more with him, but the CI could call him later; the vehicle in which the defendant was riding drove away; and the CI walked back to the officers and gave them the cocaine he had purchased.

         As to the second transaction, on May 3, 2016, the video depicted the following: the CI was outfitted with the camera; the police officer stated that the CI was given $100 and that he had been searched; the CI began walking and called the defendant to tell him that he was on his way to meet him; the CI walked up to a trailer; the defendant was standing outside with another man, near a vehicle; the CI talked to the defendant, who said he only had "$60 worth"; the CI handed the defendant $60; after some unintelligible conversation, the defendant appeared to point to the vehicle parked nearby; the CI walked to the car and picked up the cocaine; and the CI walked back to the officers and gave them the cocaine he had purchased.

         Sgt. Taylor testified that on both dates, he searched the CI before he went to meet the defendant, and the CI did not have any contraband on his person. Sgt. Taylor identified the baggies of cocaine that the CI purchased from the defendant.[4] Sgt. Taylor admitted that for both transactions, a third person was present with the defendant, and that the video that was recorded on May 3, 2016, did not actually show the cocaine being placed on the hood of the car. He stated that the CI told him that the defendant put the cocaine on the car as he (the CI) was walking up to the trailer.

         Bruce Stentz, of the Northwest Louisiana Crime Lab, testified that he analyzed the substance and confirmed that it was cocaine.

         The CI testified that he made a deal with the police officers to do undercover drug buys after he was arrested for being in possession of a crack pipe. He testified as to the circumstances of the transactions, and he identified the defendant as the person who sold him cocaine on April 21, 2016, and May 3, 2016. The CI testified that he wore a body camera, and the police officers gave him money to buy the drugs. He stated that he called the defendant to arrange the buys. As to the first transaction, the CI testified that as he was walking, the defendant arrived in a vehicle, and he purchased the drugs from the defendant. With regard to the second transaction, the CI testified that he walked to a house to meet the defendant, gave the defendant the money, and the defendant told him to pick up the drugs that had been placed on the car; he followed the defendant's instructions. The CI also stated that he never bought drugs from the man who was with the defendant. During his testimony, the CI was unable to recall the amount of cocaine he purchased from the defendant, but stated it was anywhere from $50 to $100. The CI also identified the baggies of cocaine he purchased from the defendant.

         With regard to his criminal history, the CI admitted that he was currently incarcerated at Caddo Correctional Center, awaiting trial for illegal possession of stolen things and second degree murder. He also admitted that he had more than five prior simple burglary convictions, "theft arrests," "unauthorized use of a vehicle," and a "drug possession charge." The CI testified that although he had a history of cocaine use, he was not using drugs during the time he was working with the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office.

         The trial court found the defendant guilty as charged. After denying the defendant's motion for a new trial, the trial court sentenced the defendant to serve 10 years in prison at ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.