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State v. Galan

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

May 14, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
VICTOR GALAN

          On Appeal from the 22nd Judicial District Court Parish of St. Tammany, State of Louisiana No. 563468 The Honorable August J. Hand, Judge Presiding

          Warren L. Montgomery District Attorney Matthew Caplan Assistant District Attorney Covington, Louisiana Attorneys for the State of Louisiana

          Lieu T. Vo Clark Mandeville, Louisiana Attorney for Defendant/Appellant, Victor Galan

          Victor Galan Angola, Louisiana Defendant/Appellant In Proper Person

          BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

          CRAIN, J.

         The defendant, Victor Galan, appeals his aggravated rape conviction and sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. See La. R.S. 14:42.[1] We affirm.

         FACTS

         The victim, E.B.R.M., [2] is the biological daughter of the defendant, and in 2014 lived with the defendant, her mother (who was married to the defendant), and her two younger sisters (also children of the defendant and the victim's mother). At trial, E.B.R.M. testified that following her eleventh birthday, the defendant began touching her breasts and buttocks, then began masturbating on her and sodomizing her, sometimes while she was in bed with her sisters. The abuse continued over a six-month period and stopped when E.B.R.M.'s sisters told their mother what was happening, E.B.R.M. confirmed their accounts, and E.B.R.M.'s mother reported the abuse to the police. The defendant denied raping or inappropriately touching E.B.R.M., claiming his daughters are illegal immigrants and were coerced into making these accusations against him to obtain a "U-visa," which is available to certain crime victims and their families.[3]

         SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

         The defendant contends his conviction should be reversed because it is based on insufficient evidence.

         A conviction based on insufficient evidence cannot stand, as it violates due process. See U.S. Const, amend. XIV, La. Const, art. I, § 2. In reviewing claims challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court must determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt based on the entirety of the evidence, both admissible and inadmissible, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution. See Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); State v. Oliphant, 13-2973 (La. 2/21/14), 133 So.3d 1255, 1258 (per curiam); see also La. Code Crim. Pro. art. 821B; State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1308-09 (La. 1988). When circumstantial evidence forms the basis of the conviction, the evidence, "assuming every fact to be proved that the evidence tends to prove ... must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence." La. R.S. 15:438; Oliphant, 133 So.3d at 1258.

         The due process standard does not require the reviewing court to determine whether it believes the witnesses or whether it believes the evidence establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Mire, 14-2295 (La. 1/27/16), ___ So.3d ___, ___ (per curiam) (2016WL314814, *4). Rather, appellate review is limited to determining whether the facts established by the direct evidence and inferred from the circumstances established by that evidence are sufficient for any rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of every essential element of the crime. State v. Gardner, 16-0192 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/19/16), 204 So.3d 265, 267. The weight given evidence is not subject to appellate review; therefore, an appellate court will not reweigh evidence to overturn a factfinder's determination of guilt. State v. Livous, 18-0016 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/24/18), 259 So.3d 1036, 1040, writ denied, 18-1788 (La. 4/15/19), ___ So.3d ___.

         Rape is "the act of anal, oral, or vaginal sexual intercourse with a male or female person committed without the person's lawful consent." La. R.S. 14:41A. "Emission is not necessary, and any sexual penetration, when the rape involves vaginal or anal intercourse, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime." La. R.S. 14:41 B. The crime of aggravated rape includes a rape committed where the sexual intercourse is deemed to be without lawful consent ...


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