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State v. Harris

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 14, 2019


          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 342918 Honorable Katherine Clark Dorroh, Judge.




          Before STONE, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          STONE, J.

         In this criminal case, the defendant, Rodriqus Harris ("Harris"), was found guilty by a jury of second degree rape and molestation of a juvenile. He was sentenced to 45 years at hard labor for second degree rape as a second-felony habitual offender, and to 15 years at hard labor for molestation of a juvenile, to be served consecutively. The sentencing judge ordered that all 45 years of the rape sentence be served without eligibility of parole. Harris now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's convictions, and we hold that his sentences are not excessive. However, we vacate Harris' habitual offender sentence and remand with instructions provided hereinafter.


         Harris was charged by amended bill of information with second degree rape, La. R.S. 14:42.1, and molestation of a juvenile, La. R.S. 14:81.2. The crimes occurred between July 4, 2016, and July 16, 2016. At that time, the victim, T.B., was 13 years old and was Harris' stepdaughter.

         The jury trial commenced on November 7, 2017. At trial, T.B. testified that Harris made her perform oral sex on him three times when they were in a car together. He grabbed her neck and pushed her head down. T.B. stated that Harris would tell her to "just f'ing drink it" and say "suck it, lick it, and stuff like that." Harris also told T.B. that if she told anyone, they would both get in trouble.

         The final incident occurred on July 16, 2016. On that date, T.B. was in the doorway of her bedroom when Harris told her to pull down her pants and face away from him. Harris stood in the bathroom across the hallway from T.B.'s bedroom wearing only boxers. T.B. complied, and Harris had begun masturbating with a bar of soap in his hand when T.B.'s mother, L.B., entered the area and saw what Harris was doing.

         L.B. testified that when she saw Harris in the bathroom masturbating while looking into T.B.'s room, she said "what the fuck you doing?" Harris told her "you're tripping." Harris then told T.B. to "tell her [L.B.] nothing." L.B. asked T.B. what Harris made her do, and T.B. said "showing my body." L.B. grabbed both of her daughters, ran out of the house, and called the police.[1]

         T.B. was subsequently taken to the Gingerbread House for a recorded interview. The recording of the interview was played for the jury and, in addition to the above incidents, T.B. stated that Harris had come into her room every night since July 4, 2016, pulled her pants down, and rubbed her private parts. At trial, Harris testified and adamantly denied any wrongdoing.

         Following trial, the jury unanimously found Harris guilty of second degree rape and molestation of a juvenile. The trial court denied Harris' post-trial motions.

         On November 27, 2017, the trial court sentenced Harris to 30 years at hard labor, with the first 2 years to be served without benefits for the second degree rape conviction, and to 15 years at hard labor for the molestation of a juvenile conviction. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively. That same date, the state filed a second-felony habitual offender bill of information seeking to enhance Harris' sentence for second degree rape, based on Harris' prior conviction for armed robbery with a firearm from May 10, 2005, for which he received a 15-year sentence.

         On January 5, 2018, Harris filed a pro se motion for production of documents (a "Simmons motion"). Therein, he requested free copies of

all documentation pertaining to the state and prosecuting him including, but not limited to: arrest warrants; complete court minutes; indictment/bill of information; preliminary hearings; PSI and commitment reports; audio tapes; complete open file discovery; sentencing minutes extract; any physical evidence; any DNA testing; and all statements made against the defendant.

         Harris did not specifically request any guilty plea transcript, nor did he identify the 2005 predicate offense (armed robbery) by docket number or otherwise. He claimed the documents requested would be "crucial in the filing of post-conviction relief."

         The trial court ruled on the Simmons motion on January 11, 2018, granting it in part, and denying it in part. The trial court granted the motion as to the documents to which indigent inmates are generally entitled to as a matter of right under State ex rel. Simmons v. State, 93-0175 (La. 12/16/94), 647 So.2d 1094. Namely, those are: (1) the bill of information or grand jury indictment; (2) the court minutes; (3) the guilty plea transcript; (4) the commitment order or documents committing the defendant to custody; and (5) the transcript of any evidentiary hearing held on a post-conviction relief application. As to all other requested documents, the trial court denied the motion, noting that Harris failed to show a particularized need. Harris did not receive a guilty plea transcript for the current offenses because none exists - he did not plead guilty to the current offenses. Harris likewise did not receive a copy of his 2005 guilty plea to armed robbery.

         On March 6, 2018, Harris filed a pro se motion to quash the habitual offender bill of information, on the basis that his guilty plea for the 2005 predicate offense was obtained in violation of the constitution. Specifically, he argued that he was not properly Boykinized at the time he pled guilty to the predicate offense.

         The habitual offender hearing was held on April 5, 2018. Therein, the trial court heard evidence concerning Harris' convictions. However, at Harris' request, the trial court deferred ruling on his motion to quash until the trial court could obtain and review a copy of the Boykin transcript for the predicate offense.

         The following evidence was presented at the habitual offender hearing. Shreveport Police Officer Danny Duddy was accepted as an expert in the field of latent fingerprint examination. He testified that he took Harris' fingerprints, S-1, and compared them with the fingerprints contained on S-2 (bill of information, fingerprints, and court minutes for the 2005 armed robbery conviction, Caddo Parish Docket No. 233, 911), and the fingerprints on S-3 (fingerprint attachment sheet for ...

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