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United States v. James

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

September 20, 2019

UNITED STATES
v.
TROY JAMES [1]

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to an order of the United States Magistrate Judge setting forth a final revocation hearing in the above captioned matter. (Doc. 75). For the reasons set forth below, Troy James' ("Defendant") supervised release SHALL NOT be revoked.

         I. ALLEGATIONS

         On July 19, 2011, Defendant pleaded guilty to selling 50 grams of crack cocaine base in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). (Doc. 7). On March 28, 2012, Defendant was sentenced to a term of 50 months incarceration, and a term of supervised release of five years. (Doc. 22). On May 20, 2015, the Court reduced Plaintiffs sentence to 41 months under 28 U.S.C. § 3582.[2] (Doc. 46). Defendant was released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons on November 11, 2015 and his supervised release commenced. (Doc. 48). On October 11, 2017, a warrant for Defendant's arrest was issued, and Defendant was arrested on January 3, 2018 for his suspected involvement in a shooting and failed drug deal having transpired on October 2, 2017.

         The United States alleges that on Monday October 2, 2017, the Ascension Parish Sheriffs Office ("APSO") was dispatched to a shooting that involved Defendant. (Violation Report at p. 1). The United States claims that through the APSO's investigation of the circumstances surrounding the shooting, it learned that Lennis Godeaux, a resident of the "Trailer Land" neighborhood[3], was instructed by Crystal LeBlanc to purchase $50.00 worth of crack cocaine from Defendant. (Id.). The United States further claims that during the transaction, a gunman appeared and fired three shots into the vehicle, striking Defendant. (Id.). The United States asserts that upon locating Defendant at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, APSO detectives recovered approximately $49.00 in cash in one of Defendant's pockets, and approximately $246.00 in cash in another, the $49.00 being consistent with the amount for which Defendant sold the crack cocaine. (Id.). Defendant was charged with under La. Stat. Ann. § 14:26 (Criminal Conspiracy), La. Stat. Ann. § 14:27 (Attempted Crime), and La. Stat. Ann. § 4O;967(A) (Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine). (Id.). The United States alleges that Defendant also committed a federal crime by attempting to sell crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841. (Id.). Defendant denies the allegations in the violation report.

         II. THE EVIDENCE OFFERED AT THE HEARING

         Lieutenant Tony Nefkin of the APSO testified that he responded to a call of a shooting in Trailer Land, an area which he claimed was known for drug activity. Lt. Nefkin further testified that he was rerouted to the fire station on Hoo Shoo Too Road in Baton Rouge to intercept Defendant, who had fled there after the shooting and was receiving medical treatment. Lt. Nefkin testified that upon arrival, he observed that the car doors were open, cash was visible on the passenger side seat of the car, the keys were in the ignition, and blood was present in the interior of the vehicle. Lt. Nefkin questioned Courtney Dunn, Defendant's girlfriend, about the events that transpired. Lt. Nefkin testified that Dunn told him that a shooting occurred at a red light at an intersection by Winn Dixie on Highway 73 and that she drove to the firehouse after the shooting. Lt. Nefkin further claimed that Dunn said that the shooter wore a black hoodie and ran away after firing into the vehicle. Lt. Nefkin further testified that he observed that the windows of Defendant's vehicle were down, which Lt. Nefkin found odd, given the inclement weather that day.

         Cheryll Falcon was also called to testify. However, upon learning that Falcon had not spoken to an attorney, the Court deferred her testimony until she could confer with court-appointed counsel.

         Lennis Godeaux testified that he was a resident of Trailer Land who was arrested at the scene of the shooting, and questioned by APSO deputies. Godeaux claimed that he and Defendant were at some point being held in the same prison. However, Godeaux thereafter asserted his Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer any further questions.

         Officer Todd Bourgeois testified that he travelled to the hospital with Defendant and Dunn from the fire station. Officer Bourgeois asserted that he interviewed both Defendant and Dunn in the waiting room of the hospital. Dunn admitted that she and Defendant were in the area to visit Godeaux. Officer Bourgeois claimed that Defendant said he wanted to visit Godeaux to inquire into the whereabouts of Defendant's old roommate (who he did not identify by name). Officer Bourgeois testified that he searched Defendant's pants pockets and found $49.00 in one pocket and $246.00 in the other.

         Lt. Juan Vera testified that he interviewed Godeaux at 1:30 AM, the morning after the shooting. Lt. Vera's testimony largely pertained to the recorded interview he conducted with Godeaux, prior to Godeaux's arrest. In the recording, Godeaux explained that Defendant[4] was a drug dealer. Godeaux told Lt. Vera that on the night in question, Crystal Leblanc knocked on the door, gave him cocaine and money, and directed him to purchase crack cocaine from Defendant. Goddeaux also told Lt. Vera that when Defendant arrived at his house, he did not notice anyone in the passenger seat. Goddeaux stated in the recording that shortly after the drug transaction had begun, the shooter shot into Defendant's vehicle. Lt. Vera testified that Godeaux was arrested for attempting to purchase narcotics and criminal conspiracy. Lt. Vera also testified that he showed Godeaux a photo lineup where he identified Defendant as the person from whom he was attempting to purchase drugs. Lt. Vera also testified that no narcotics were recovered that night.

         Deputy Joshua Sproul testified about the efforts to locate Leblanc, including visiting an old address, and calling her aunt, with whom Dpy. Sproul had reason to believe Leblanc was residing. Dpy. Sproul indicated that he spoke to Leblanc once over the phone, but was otherwise unable to contact her.

         Dunn testified that she was with Defendant when the shooting occurred. She claimed that they were visiting Trailer Land to speak to Godeaux about an altercation that occurred between Godeaux and an unidentified person a week prior. She stated that while speaking to Godeaux, Defendant made no reference to drugs, and there was no exchange of money for drugs at that time. Dunn claimed that she became concerned when Godeaux suddenly began to speak loudly in a seemingly angry tone, the purpose of which, Dunn opined, was to warn Defendant of impending danger. Dunn testified that while Godeaux was speaking in this manner, the shooter ran to the side of the vehicle and fired three or four shots into the car.

         After having been provided with counsel, Falcon testified that she has known Godeaux, Leblanc, and Defendant for over 20 years. Falcon admitted to previously being a drug user, but that she was no longer involved with the drug trade. Falcon claimed that she heard ...


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