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. Harris

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 5, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
ANTONIO MERQUIS HARRIS

          APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 325, 997 HONORABLE HARRY FRED RANDOW, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Edward K. Bauman Louisiana Appellate Project Counsel for Defendant/Appellant: Antonio Merquis Harris

          Phillip Terrell, Jr. District Attorney John T. Giordano Assistant District Attorney Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana

          Antonio Merquis Harris In Proper Person Louisiana State Prison Defendant

          Court composed of D. Kent Savoie, Candyce G. Perret, and Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.

          JONATHAN W. PERRY, JUDGE

         Defendant, Antonio Merquis Harris ("Defendant"), appeals his conviction for armed robbery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:64; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a violation of La.R.S. 14:95.1; attempted second degree murder, two counts, violations of La.R.S. 14:27 and 14:30.1; intimidating a witness, a violation of La.R.S. 14:129.1; and possession of a stolen firearm, a violation of La.R.S. 14:69.1. With the exception of Defendant's conviction for possession of a stolen firearm, which we reverse, we affirm Defendant's other convictions, amend one of Defendant's sentences, and remand this matter with instructions.

         FACTS

         On July 6, 2015, at 5:00 a.m., Andrew Davis ("Davis"), a Frito-Lay route salesman, stopped at the Save More convenience store in Alexandria, Louisiana. After he loaded empty boxes in the back of his truck, an individual wearing a sweatshirt with a hood approached him. The individual pointed a handgun at Davis and demanded his workbag that contained a check made out to Frito-Lay, cell phones, and a scanner. Also, the individual demanded Davis's wallet and telephone. When he threw his phone to the hooded individual, Davis ran into the convenience store and called the police. Later, Davis would identify Defendant in court as the individual who robbed him.

         After speaking with police, Davis returned to work. Between 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., Davis and his boss drove his boss's vehicle to the area of the robbery to look for Davis's workbag should it have been discarded. As they drove about the area, they saw a few guys staring at them; some were standing on the street and others were standing under a nearby carport. Suddenly, Davis and his boss were fired upon; three bullets struck the passenger door and one struck the outside, passenger mirror. At that point, Davis and his boss fled the area, drove to Damico's Bingo Hall, and called the police.

         In addition to Davis, several witnesses, whose testimony will be elaborated upon later, testified as to Defendant's identity, including Jeraldine Hampton ("Hampton"), an eyewitness to the shooting; and Delric Carpenter ("Carpenter"), an area resident. The jury was also presented with forensic evidence that matched a bullet from the truck with a handgun discarded at Defendant's residence near Davis's cellphone and product scanner. They also heard jailhouse telephone evidence where Defendant admitted the police recovered "my gun, my cell phone, and a check out my safe." The jury also viewed the handgun recovered from the top of Defendant's carport and the check made out to Frito-Lay that was found in Defendant's home safe. Fingerprint evidence was also presented that demonstrated Defendant was a prior- convicted felon at the time of these offenses.

         After a multi-day jury trial, Defendant was convicted on all charges enumerated above that were brought against him in the bill of information. After receiving a presentence investigative report, the trial court sentenced Defendant to forty years at hard labor for armed robbery; ten years at hard labor for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; twenty years at hard labor for each conviction for attempted second degree murder; ten years at hard labor for intimidating a witness; and one year at hard labor for illegal possession of a stolen firearm. The court imposed all the sentences concurrently.

         Defendant timely appealed, presenting four assignments of error argued by court-appointed counsel, as well as one pro se assignment of error. They are as follows: (1) the jury erred in returning a verdict of guilty of illegal possession of a stolen firearm; (2) the convictions were based on circumstantial evidence that failed to establish Defendant's identity beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury was unduly influenced by an invalid charge, namely the illegal possession of a stolen firearm;[1](3) the trial court erred in denying Defendant's challenges for cause regarding prospective jurors Katrina McCain ("McCain") and John Parker ("Parker"), and jurors James Alwell ("Alwell") and Kenneth Taylor ("Taylor"); (4) the trial court erred in granting the State's challenges for cause regarding prospective jurors Ben Rosier ("Rosier") and Jonathan Richards ("Richards"); and (5) the trial court erred in allowing Defendant to proceed to trial in leg shackles.

         ERRORS PATENT

         In compliance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, we review all criminal appeals for errors patent on the face of the record. See State v. Oliveaux, 312 So.2d 337 (La.1975). After carefully reviewing the record, we find one error patent, as well as court minutes of sentencing that require correction.

         We first note the trial court sentenced Defendant to serve ten years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence for intimidating a witness. Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:129.1, the applicable sentencing statute, does not authorize a restriction of benefits. Accordingly, Defendant's sentence is illegally excessive. Therefore, we amend Defendant's sentence for intimidating a witness to delete the denial of benefits and remand to the trial court with instructions to amend the court minutes accordingly.

         Finally, our review of the sentencing transcript shows the trial court imposed a $1, 000.00 fine as required by La.R.S. 14:95.1(B) for Defendant's conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Notwithstanding, the court minutes fail to reflect the imposition of this fine. "It is well established that where there is a conflict between the minutes and the transcript, the transcript shall prevail." State v. Edwards, 626 So.2d 501, 503 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1993), writ denied, 93-3125 (La. 2/3/95), 649 So.2d 400. Therefore, we direct the trial court to correct the sentencing minutes to include the $1, 000.00 fine that was imposed for Defendant's conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

         SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

         There is a common thread between the first two assignments of error, namely, the sufficiency of the evidence regarding Defendant's conviction for the illegal possession of a stolen firearm and the sufficiency of the evidence as to all of Defendant's convictions. In the first assignment of error, Defendant contends the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support his conviction for the illegal possession of a stolen firearm.[2] In the second assignment of error, Defendant contends the evidence was insufficient to prove any of the charged offenses and particularly asserts that the State failed to establish his identity beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, we will address those two assignments of error first.

         In State v. Kennerson, 96-1518, p. 5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/7/97), 695 So.2d 1367, 1371, we articulated the well-established analysis for such claims:

When the issue of sufficiency of evidence is raised on appeal, the critical inquiry of the reviewing court is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560, rehearing denied, 444 U.S. 890, 100 S.Ct. 195, 62 L.Ed.2d 126 (1979); State ex rel. Graffagnino v. King, 436 So.2d 559 (La.1983); State v. Duncan, 420 So.2d 1105 (La.1982); State v. Moody, 393 So.2d 1212 (La.1981). It is the role of the fact finder to weigh the respective credibility of the witnesses, and therefore, the appellate court should not second guess the credibility determinations of the triers of fact beyond the sufficiency evaluations under the Jackson standard of review. See State ex rel. Graffagnino, 436 So.2d 559 (citing State v. Richardson, 425 So.2d 1228 (La.1983)). In order for this Court to affirm a conviction, however, the record must reflect that the state has satisfied its burden of proving the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm

         Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:69.1(A)(1) provides: "Illegal possession of stolen firearms is the intentional possessing, procuring, receiving, or concealing of a firearm which has been the subject of any form of misappropriation." In State v. Johnson, 09-862, p. 9 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/3/10), 28 So.3d 1263, 1270, this court said, "Based on [La.R.S. 14:69.1], the State had to prove that the defendant intentionally possessed a firearm, that the firearm was the subject of robbery or theft, and that he knew or should have known the firearm was the subject of a robbery or theft."

         Our careful review of the record shows a paucity of evidence regarding this offense. Although the State determined that the handgun was stolen from James Smith and that robbery was not reported, the evidence is void of any proof that Defendant was involved with the theft or that he knew or should have known the handgun was stolen. Therefore, we reverse Defendant's conviction for illegal possession of a stolen firearm and vacate the sentence imposed for that conviction. Identity Evidence

         In his pro se assignment of error, Defendant first contends the State failed to establish his identity beyond a reasonable doubt.[3] The jurisprudence on this area of the law is well established:

"In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, an appellate court in Louisiana is controlled by the standard enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). . . . [T]he appellate court must determine that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, was sufficient to convince a rational trier of fact that all of the elements of the crime had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676, 678 (La.1984). Furthermore, when the key issue is the defendant's identity as the perpetrator, rather than whether the crime was committed, the State is required to negate any reasonable probability of misidentification. State v. Weary, 03-3067 (La. 4/24/06), 931 So.2d 297; State v. Neal, 00-0674 (La. 6/29/01), 796 So.2d 649. Positive identification by only one witness is sufficient to support a conviction. Weary, 03-3067 at p. 18, 931 So.2d at 311; Neal, 00-0674 at p. 11, 796 So.2d at 658; State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1311 (La.1988). It is the factfinder who weighs the respective credibilities of the witnesses, and this court will generally not second-guess those determinations. State v. Bright, 98-0398, p. 22 (La. 4/11/00), 776 So.2d 1134, 1147.

State v. Hughes, 05-992, pp. 5-6 (La. 11/29/06), 943 So.2d 1047, 1051.

         On the subject of the armed robbery conviction, Davis, the Frito-Lay deliveryman, identified Defendant as the armed robber. Davis described the events of the robbery, including that Defendant's face was not covered. He also identified Defendant in open court. The evidence further showed that a ...


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.