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State v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 26, 2019


          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 334, 115. Honorable Brady D. O'Callaghan, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Edward K. Bauman Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          RICHARD S. FEINBERG MEKISHA S. CREAL KODIE K. SMITH Assistant District Attorneys

          Before MOORE, GARRETT, and THOMPSON, JJ.

          THOMPSON, J.

         This appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo, the Honorable Brady O'Callaghan presiding. Defendant Shamichael Edwards was found guilty of carjacking following a jury trial. Defendant was sentenced as a fourth-felony offender to 35 years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Defendant now appeals. For the following reasons, Defendant's conviction and sentence are affirmed.


         On September 2, 2015, Defendant Shamichael Edwards (hereinafter "Defendant") was charged by bill of information with carjacking, a violation of La. R.S. 14:64.2, for an offense alleged to have been committed on July 10, 2015. After a trial[1] held May 14-16, 2018, a jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged.

         At Defendant's trial, the following facts were elicited: The victim, Irvin Calhoun, testified that he had known Defendant for about three weeks prior to the incident on July 10, 2015. Calhoun stated that he first met Defendant outside of the El Dorado Casino in Shreveport, Louisiana, Calhoun's place of employment. Calhoun testified that it was at that first meeting that he discovered that Defendant was deaf. Calhoun stated that he offered Defendant a ride to the Mooretown neighborhood of Shreveport, where Defendant lived. Calhoun averred that he and Defendant exchanged phone numbers and were able to communicate through texts, writing and gestures or body language. Calhoun testified that he found Defendant attractive, but he denied being in a relationship with him.

         Calhoun testified that he gave Defendant rides to Mooretown several times. He once bought a pair of shoes for Defendant, and several times he brought Defendant to his apartment and they "hung out," which involved him cooking for Defendant and watching movies together. Calhoun testified that, on another occasion, Defendant told him that he needed money for his mom, because he did not have any food. Defendant came by his apartment and he gave Defendant some money and a bottle of alcohol. Calhoun testified that he never expected anything in return for helping Defendant.

         In addition to working at the casino, Calhoun testified that he worked as a hairdresser. Calhoun stated that at the time of the incident in July 2015, he owned a Dodge Nitro, for which he had just finished paying. Calhoun noted that he had also just put new rims and tires on the SUV. Calhoun testified that he kept a lot of personal information, such as his birth certificate, social security card, checks and his "statements" in the vehicle in the glove box, which he kept locked.

         Calhoun testified that around 11:00 p.m. on July 10, 2015, as he was getting off work, he received a text from Defendant, who needed a ride from his apartment in Mooretown to his aunt's house. Calhoun testified that he picked Defendant up from the Clear Horizons Apartments in Mooretown and drove him to the Bel Air Apartments, located in the Cedar Grove neighborhood of Shreveport.[2] Calhoun testified that he felt uneasy being at the apartments because they were not well lit. Calhoun testified that Defendant communicated to him that the people he was there to see had just stepped out of their apartment and would be right back. Defendant asked him to wait.

         Calhoun testified that he realized that a shooting had occurred at those apartments a couple of weeks before, and he told Defendant he wanted to leave; Defendant's response was, "Give me five minutes," and he kept looking back towards the car. Calhoun testified that he told Defendant he was ready to go, and Defendant replied, "Hold on." Calhoun testified that during this encounter, Defendant appeared very nervous, as though he was looking for someone. Calhoun testified that Defendant went to the apartments and came back, and as Calhoun said, "Let's go," Defendant reached over Calhoun, snatched the keys out of the ignition and grabbed Calhoun's phone. Calhoun testified that Defendant then stepped away from the car and stood there.

         Calhoun testified that Defendant motioned to him to get out of the car. Calhoun testified that Defendant communicated with him through hand gestures that he wanted $300 from Calhoun in return for his keys. Calhoun stated, "Once I saw his hand in his pocket and I saw his stance, that's when I saw the aggression. That's when it was like, I was just another dude on a corner. You know, I don't know you, but I want $300 or you're not getting at your keys." Calhoun testified that he said, "Where am I going to get $300 from?" Calhoun stated that Defendant pointed at the nearby liquor store, indicating that he wanted Calhoun to use the ATM there to get the money.

         Calhoun testified that they began walking towards the liquor store, with Defendant about five feet from him. Calhoun testified that whenever he sped up, Defendant would grunt at him in order to get him to slow down. Calhoun testified that he thought that, when Defendant continued to look back at the apartments, he was waiting for someone to come and help him. Calhoun stated that Defendant kept his left hand in his pocket, and Calhoun knew that Defendant carried a knife. Calhoun testified that he did not see a knife, however. Calhoun testified:

First of all, he's bigger than I am; and I didn't know how desperate he was. So I wasn't going to…make the situation worse than what it already was. I'm a sensible person. I know when I'm in danger. So I just had to submit and see where this was going to go and see if I could find a way out of it.

         According to Calhoun, Defendant indicated that once Calhoun gave him money, Calhoun would get his keys back. Calhoun stated that they walked about eight or nine blocks to the liquor store, but it was closed. Calhoun testified that Defendant then indicated that they would walk to the Circle K, another eight or nine blocks away. Calhoun testified that once they got to the Circle K, Defendant stayed outside the store and hid behind a tree, watching Calhoun enter the store. Calhoun stated that when he entered the Circle K, he alerted the clerk to Defendant's presence, the clerk looked at the tree behind which Defendant was hiding, and Defendant ran off. Calhoun testified that he borrowed the phone of a woman who entered the store and called 9-1-1. Calhoun testified that he did not want to fight Defendant; he just wanted to get inside the Circle K and get help.

         Calhoun testified that the police arrived and took his statement, and at that point he believed that his car was still at the Bel Air Apartments. Calhoun stated that he then rode around the Bel Air Apartments and the Mooretown neighborhood with the police looking for Defendant. Calhoun testified that the police took him to his apartment, which is in the warehouses in downtown Shreveport. Calhoun stated that he contacted a friend/neighbor, and used her phone to text his phone, which remained in Defendant's possession. Calhoun testified that he and Defendant began a text exchange about what had happened. These text messages were admitted into evidence. Calhoun testified that at that point he was no longer afraid of Defendant, he was just angry.

         Calhoun testified that he received the following text from Defendant, "If u have 200 for me then I will have to bring ur car…that's the deal." Calhoun responded, "Bring me my car." Calhoun testified that he understood the text to mean that if he gave Defendant $200, he would get his car back. At one point, Defendant texted, "I thought u was going to call the police on me." Calhoun testified that he lived alone, which Defendant knew, and his car was the only way he had to get to and from work. Calhoun stated that he was trying to arrange to meet Defendant and give him the money in exchange for his car keys. Calhoun testified that the car cost him $17, 000, and he put $5, 000 rims on it, so $200 compared to what he had spent on the car was inconsequential. Calhoun testified that Defendant sent him all over the place to try and get his car back, and the texts show that Defendant told Calhoun to meet him at various locations, including two different casinos, as well as the city bus station. Calhoun testified that Defendant never showed up with his car.

         Calhoun testified that he received the following text from Defendant, "Then so I will tell u that I will bring the car back for u right now but if u lying to me then I will f*** over u an still know where u at." Calhoun stated that he took that text to mean that Defendant would hurt him if he did not get his way. Calhoun testified that he texted to Defendant, "Was u waiting on someone else to come help u," to which Defendant replied, "Nobody…just myself."

         Calhoun testified that his car was eventually found sitting on bricks with the engine "gone." Calhoun stated that his personal information from the glove box, the tires and parts of the engine were missing. Calhoun further testified that the windows of the car were "busted out," the car was scratched and the door handles were broken off. Calhoun testified that he picked Defendant out of a photographic lineup.

         On cross-examination, Calhoun was asked about the discrepancy between his testimony and what Shreveport Police Detective Chris Bordelon put in his report; Det. Bordelon's report stated that Defendant had driven Calhoun to the Circle K, watched him walk in, and then drove away in the victim's car. Calhoun affirmed his testimony that he and Defendant had walked to the Circle K, and Defendant had fled on foot.

         Calhoun testified that, in the texts he sent to Defendant after his car was taken wherein he stated, "Didn't see as my friend u could have gotten so much more," and "I saw me loving you," Calhoun was "play[ing] it sensitive to get my car back." On redirect, when asked why he did not run away from Defendant when Calhoun was walking to the liquor store and Circle K, he testified:

I know he's faster than…if he wanted to catch me, he could have caught me. That's why I tried to play everything as calmly as I could, because it was what it was. I just needed to wait for that moment that I felt in my spirit that I can't ask for help or change the situation in my favor.

         Shreveport Police Detective Jeremy Blanchard testified that he was on patrol on the night of July 10, 2015, when he got called to the Circle K at 325 W. 70th Street in Shreveport around 1:00 a.m. Det. Blanchard testified that he met with Calhoun, who told him that he had picked up "Jason" at the Clear Horizons Apartments, and that "Jason" asked Calhoun to take him to the Woodlawn Terrace Apartments on 68th Street and Cliff Avenue. Det. Blanchard testified that Calhoun related that "Jason" had asked to borrow his phone, took the keys from the ignition of Calhoun's vehicle, and communicated to Calhoun that he wanted money in exchange for the keys.

         Det. Blanchard testified that Calhoun told him that "Jason" made him walk to the Circle K, which was about six or seven blocks from the apartments. Once they got there, "Jason" went across the street and told Calhoun to go to the ATM. "Jason" watched him walk into the Circle K. Calhoun borrowed the phone of a person at the Circle K to call 9-1-1, and "Jason" took off. Det. Blanchard testified that Calhoun's vehicle was not at the apartments at that point, and he drove Calhoun around to look for the car, then took him back to his apartment in downtown Shreveport. Det. Blanchard testified that Calhoun described Defendant as 6'4" or 5" and 240-250 lbs.

         On cross-examination, Det. Blanchard affirmed that his report reflected that Calhoun stated that he had known Defendant for one week and that Calhoun was asked by Defendant to walk from his vehicle to the Circle K. Det. Blanchard testified that you could not see Calhoun's car where it was parked at the Bel Air Apartments from the Circle K. Det. Blanchard testified that the Circle K was well lit, but the Bel Air Apartments were not. Det. Blanchard testified that he had originally charged Defendant with theft.

         Harold Mims testified that he lives at 525 W. 74th Street in Shreveport. Mims stated that he has known Defendant since he was a child, and that he communicates with Defendant with his hands. According to Mims, although he does not know sign language, it was not very hard for him to understand Defendant, because Mims has family members who are deaf. Mims testified that he knew Defendant to be "a gentle, sweet, kind young man." Mims testified that the police came to his home on July 27, 2015, inquiring about a vehicle (Calhoun's SUV) in his backyard. Mims stated that he did not know the vehicle was there until he was told by people that visited his home that the car was there, and had been put in the yard by Defendant. Mims testified that Defendant told him the car belonged to Defendant's cousin, and that Defendant took the tires off the car to sell in order to get his cousin out of jail. Mims stated that Defendant did not get permission from him to put the car in his backyard. Mims further testified that he did not know Calhoun, and he did not know the car was stolen.

         Shreveport Police Corporal Torian Wesley testified that he was working patrol on July 27, 2017, [3] and was dispatched to Mims' home at 525 W. 74th Street, where he found a stolen vehicle in Mims' backyard. Cpl. Wesley testified that the car was sitting on four blocks, without any tires. Cpl. Wesley corroborated Mims' testimony that Defendant had told Mims that the car belonged to Defendant's cousin and that he had taken the rims off the car to sell in order to get his cousin out of jail. Cpl. Wesley testified that Mims said that he did not think the car was stolen, because Defendant had the keys to the car. Cpl. Wesley testified that the driver's side was dusted for prints.

         Shreveport Police Corporal Rodney Medlin testified that he was dispatched to assist Cpl. Wesley on July 27, 2017, [4] at 525 W. 74th Street in Shreveport. Cpl. Medlin affirmed that the car in Mims' yard was reported stolen, and was found without wheels and on cinderblocks. Cpl. Medlin testified that it appeared that the vehicle was being concealed in the yard.

         Detective Bordelon testified that he spoke with Calhoun on July 24, 2015. Det. Bordelon confirmed the victim's testimony regarding the incident, specifically that Defendant removed the keys from the ignition, demanded money from Calhoun in exchange for the keys, and made him walk first to the liquor store, then to the Circle K to withdraw money in exchange for his car keys. Det. Bordelon described Calhoun as "timid and nervous" in relating the crime to him, and stated that Calhoun was a "meeker person," small in stature. Calhoun told him that he did not believe he could get his car back due to the size discrepancy between himself and Defendant. Det. Bordelon testified that Calhoun stated that he felt physically threatened by Defendant; Calhoun described Defendant as tall, muscular and deaf. Det. Bordelon testified that at the time of the crime, Defendant was working as a personal trainer, and he weighed about 30 pounds more than he did at the time of trial.

         Detective Bordelon stated that Calhoun picked Defendant out of a photo lineup. Det. Bordelon testified that Calhoun's texts to Defendant immediately after the crime were "bluster," and Calhoun "felt much safer being at a distance in attempting to regain his vehicle." Det. Bordelon talked about the discrepancies between his report and Calhoun's testimony regarding whether Calhoun and Defendant walked or drove to the Circle K, and said that he believed he may have written the report incorrectly, acknowledging that it was "less than perfect police work." Det. Bordelon stated that he interpreted what Calhoun related to him as well as he could at the time, noting that Calhoun was very emotional at the time.

         Det. Bordelon testified that Calhoun stated that Defendant's entire demeanor changed after he took the keys. Det. Bordelon testified that Calhoun never told him that Defendant touched him or threatened him with harm through texts or writing. Det. Bordelon testified that he asked Calhoun why he did not try to get ...

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