Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 342, 045 Honorable
Brady D. O'Callaghan, Judge
WHITLEY R. GRAVES Counsel for Appellant
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney REBECCA A. EDWARDS SENAE D.
HALL KODIE K. SMITH Assistant District Attorneys Counsel for
PITMAN, COX, and STEPHENS, JJ.
criminal appeal by John Paul Flores arises from the First
Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo, State of Louisiana.
Flores was convicted by a unanimous jury of operating a
vehicle while intoxicated, fourth offense, in violation of
La. R.S. 14:98 and 14:98.4. He was sentenced to 20 years'
imprisonment at hard labor, two years to be served without
the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence,
and a $5, 000.00 fine. No motion to reconsider sentence was
filed. On appeal, Flores challenges his sentence and
conviction. For the following reasons, we affirm Flores's
conviction and sentence.
evening of June 24, 2016, officers with Caddo Parish
Sheriff's Office, in response to a welfare call,
approached John Paul Flores at Elsie's Auto & Truck
Plaza ("Elsie's") in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Flores was asleep in the driver's seat of a truck parked
at the gas pumps in front of the store. After waking Flores
and having him step out of the vehicle, officers located the
keys on the center console of the vehicle and determined that
Flores was at Elsie's alone. Flores was placed under
arrest for suspected operation of a vehicle while intoxicated
and subsequently charged by bill of information with
operating a vehicle, fourth or subsequent offense, in
violation of La. R.S. 14:98 and 14:98.4.
six-person jury trial commenced on February 14, 2018, wherein
seven witnesses testified. The state and the defense
stipulated to Flores's three prior convictions of
operating a vehicle while intoxicated. After closing
arguments, the jury retired to deliberate without a copy of
the jury instructions. The jury later wrote a note to the
court which read, "Does the definition, by law, of
'control of a vehicle' include their sitting in
driver's side with access to keys of vehicle?" The
court declined to answer the jury's question, reasoning
that the question was too specific and would border too
closely on a comment on the evidence. Instead, the trial
court elected to reread the relevant part of the original
charge to the jury. After further deliberation, the jury
unanimously found Flores guilty as charged. Following a
presentence investigation, Flores was sentenced to 20
years' imprisonment, two years to be served without the
benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, and
a $5, 000.00 fine. No motion to reconsider sentence was
filed. This appeal by Flores ensued.
appeal, Flores asserts that (1) the evidence at trial was
insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court
erred in failing to properly instruct the jury; and, (3) the
trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence.
trial, Detective Jeremy Edwards of the Caddo Parish
Sherriff's Office testified that he was working as a
patrol officer on the evening of June 24, 2016, when he was
dispatched to Elsie's truck stop at 7101 Highway One in
Caddo Parish concerning someone asleep in a truck at the gas
pumps. Upon arrival at Elsie's, Det. Edwards made contact
with Flores, who was asleep in the front driver side of a
vehicle. No one else was in the vehicle. Det. Edwards knocked
on the window several times to get Flores's attention.
Det. Edwards stated he glanced inside the vehicle when Flores
first exited but did not remember seeing any alcoholic
beverages. He further testified that Flores exhibited
bloodshot eyes, unsteady feet, and an alcoholic odor coming
from his person. Det. Edwards attempted to conduct a field
sobriety test, which Flores refused. Det. Edwards's
contact with Flores at Elsie's was recorded with the
mobile video surveillance device ("MVS") in his
patrol car, which records everything in front of his vehicle
as well as conversations. The DVD of the recording from Det.
Edwards's MVS was introduced and played for the jury.
Det. Edwards stated that he could not recall if Flores's
vehicle was running when he approached it, but testified on
cross-examination while viewing the MVS footage that as
Flores exited the vehicle, he did not hear a beeping or any
sound to indicate the keys were in the ignition. Det. Edwards
placed a call to Flores's wife, Cynthia Flores, then
transported Flores to Caddo Correctional Center
("CCC") for a chemical breathalyzer test. Det.
Edwards testified that on the way to CCC, Flores was falling
asleep. The interaction in the Intoxilyzer room at CCC was
recorded with a camera system in the room, and the footage
was introduced and played for the jury. Flores refused to
sign the chemical rights form and refused to submit to the
James Norwood of the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office
testified that he is employed in the patrol division and was
so employed on the evening of June 24, 2016. He testified
that he was dispatched to Elsie's to investigate a
"subject passed out in his vehicle at the gas
pump." Dep. Norwood testified that he had made over 400
DWI arrests and that he looks for indications of bloodshot
eyes, swaying while standing, and an alcoholic odor coming
from one's person. Dep. Norwood observed Flores swaying
while standing up, and that Flores's eyes were bloodshot.
He described Flores's demeanor as being "kind of a
jerk." Dep. Norwood was asked by Det. Edwards to check
the store for Flores's wife because Flores said his wife
drove him to Elsie's. Dep. Norwood checked the truck stop
and the casino but could not find Flores's wife. He also
testified that he did not recall seeing any alcoholic
beverages inside the vehicle when he glanced inside.
William Tuggle of the Louisiana Department of Probation and
Parole identified bills of information for docket numbers
218, 487 (driving while intoxicated, third offense), and 234,
985 (driving while intoxicated, fourth offense). He testified
that his office supervised Flores in both of those docket
numbers and stated that supervision in docket number 218, 487
began on May 31, 2003, and ended on ...