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State v. Eaglin

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

July 3, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
KYVONTE LATRELL EAGLIN

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON DAVIS, NO. CR-716-15 HONORABLE CRAIG STEVE GUNNELL, DISTRICT JUDGE

         ON REMAND FROM THE SUPREME COURT

          Alfred F. Boustany, II Boustany Law Firm, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Kyvonte Latrell Eaglin.

          Michael C. Cassidy District Attorney - 31st JDC Bennett R. LaPoint Assistant District Attorney, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE.

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

          ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE

         FACTS

         The defendant, Kyvonte Latrell Eaglin, attended a party at the American Legion Hall in Jennings on August 8, 2015. An altercation broke out, and a group moved outside. The defendant went to his vehicle and retrieved a gun. Shots from one or more firearms were fired, and the victim was killed.

         The defendant was convicted of manslaughter on November 18, 2016. The trial court sentenced the defendant to twenty years at hard labor on January 30, 2017. This court affirmed his conviction and sentence. State v. Eaglin, 17-657 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/28/18), 239 So.3d 1001, writ granted in part, 18-822 (La. 3/18/19), 265 So.3d 761 (per curiam).

         One of the issues on appeal addressed the introduction of an inflammatory photograph into evidence. This court held the photograph was in fact erroneously introduced, but we found the error to be harmless. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the defendant's writ application in part and remanded the matter, finding this court "applied the wrong standard in determining whether the error was harmless." Eaglin, 18-822 at 1. The supreme court instructed this court to reevaluate the error according to the standard set out in Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 87 S.Ct. 824 (1967).

         DISCUSSION

         At trial, the state introduced, as evidence of the defendant's bad character, a copy of a Facebook photograph of the defendant, who was approximately thirteen years old at the time. The photograph falsely portrayed the defendant as a masked armed robber holding a dangerous pistol to the back of a child's head, as though ready to shoot the child. The trial court itself described the photograph as "inflammatory." Later in the trial, the defendant's sixteen-year-old cousin, Latavius Stewart, testified the photograph was taken approximately four years earlier. Mr. Stewart was the boy standing against the wall while the defendant held a BB gun against his head. Another cousin took the photo. Mr. Stewart said they were "[j]ust having fun with it. We were being silly. Just taking pictures."

         This court found:

This photograph, Exhibit S-2, provided no useful purpose at trial. Chief D'Albor's testimony did not show he relied on it at the scene to identify the defendant. Even if he had, it would still add nothing to help the jury reach a verdict. The photograph depicted nothing related to the crime for which the defendant was on trial. It did, however, present a disturbing image to the jury that portrayed the defendant as one who held a gun to a young boy's head. Only later in the trial did ...

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