APPEALED FROM THE TWENTY-THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT IN AND
FOR THE PARISH OF ASCENSION STATE OF LOUISIANA DOCKET NUMBER
29, 597 HONORABLE ALVIN TURNER, JR. JUDGE
Babin District Attorney Donaldsonville, Louisiana Attorneys
for Appellee State of Louisiana
D. Candell Lindsey Manda Assistant District Attorneys
Gonzales, Louisiana, Jane L. Beebe New Orleans, Louisiana
Attorney for Defendant/Appellant Nathan Curry
BEFORE: McDONALD, THERIOT, and CHUTZ, JJ.
defendant, Nathan Curry, was charged by grand jury indictment
with second degree murder, a violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1.
He pled not guilty. After a trial by jury, he was found
guilty as charged. The trial court denied a motion for
post-verdict judgment of acquittal and two motions for new
trial filed by the defendant. The trial court sentenced the
defendant to life imprisonment at hard labor without the
benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The
defendant now appeals, assigning error based on the
sufficiency of the evidence, prosecutorial statements during
closing arguments, and the non-unanimous jury verdict. For
the following reasons, we affirm the conviction and sentence.
night of March 10, 2012, a group of individuals, mostly from
Donaldsonville, Louisiana, travelled in at least four
separate vehicles to Geismar and Gonzales, Louisiana, to
attend social gatherings. In Geismar, they went to the
Geismar Community Center, but left abruptly, when a fight
broke out and police arrived. Upon leaving, some in the group
headed back to Donaldsonville while others travelled to a
Gonzales neighborhood where one member of the group, Davonne
Solomon (the victim herein), was shot in the chest.
to Sparkle Bell, Ariel Dunn, Jardell Pleasant, and Robert
Gibson (the driver), four Donaldsonville individuals who rode
together to Gonzales with the victim, when they turned off
Darla Avenue to Amber Street (a dead end street), they saw a
group of people standing outside. As they exited their
vehicle, shots were fired. At that time, Ariel, who did not
see who was shooting, was shot in the arm and in the side.
Robert witnessed someone yell, "Back up, back up, back
up ... police, police, " and saw Davonne stepping back
just as "the dude" fired gunshots. Robert did not
know the person who shot Davonne, nor did he get a good look
at him, but he noticed that the shooter was wearing a
camouflage jacket and had dreadlocks. Jardell similarly
stated that he saw a person with a gun in his hand say,
"Y'all back the f-k up." Jardell backed up and
turned around, and the shots were fired as he ran. Jardell
noted that the person with the gun was wearing a
"camouflage jacket with the dreads in his head."
Jardell did not see Davonne get shot, as he was not looking
toward Davonne at the time of the gunfire.
however, maintained that she saw Davonne being shot.
According to Sparkle, after they exited their vehicle, the
defendant, who she knew before that night, approached
Davonne, pointed a gun at his chest, and shot him. Sparkle
was approximately five feet from the defendant at the time.
Sparkle noted that the defendant had dreadlocks at the time
of the shooting. Sparkle identified the defendant as
Davonne's shooter in a photographic lineup, and again in
court at trial.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
assignment of error number one, the defendant argues that the
State failed to meet its burden of proving all of the
elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the
defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his
motion for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and his motion
for new trial on that basis. Noting that the only question in
this case was the identity of the shooter, the defendant
contends that there was no physical evidence to connect him
to the shooting. The defendant concedes that, before the
trial, two witnesses identified him as the shooter. However,
he contends that, at trial, one of the witnesses, Max
Batiste, testified that he did not see the defendant shoot
anyone. Regarding the other witness, Sparkle, the defendant
contends that she was inconsistent as to whether she was
outside or in the civic center restroom when the fight began
between the Gonzales and Donaldsonville males. The defendant
further contends that, at trial, Sparkle had to be confronted
with her pretrial police statement before admitting that she
believed two shooters were involved. He claims that
Sparkle's account of the shooting contradicted the
State's theory that there was only one shooter with one
gun. Further, the defendant notes the lack of physical
evidence or a ballistic expert to support the State's
theory. The defendant argues that the trial court, in denying
the post-trial motions, failed to see the flaws in the
evidence to prove identity.
standard of review for the sufficiency of the evidence to
uphold a conviction is whether, 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
beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560, 573
(1979). See also La. C.Cr.P. art. 821(B); State
v. Ordodi, 2006-0207 (La. 11/29/06), 946 So.2d 654, 660.
The Jackson standard of review, incorporated in Article 821,
is an objective standard for testing the overall evidence,
both direct and circumstantial, for reasonable doubt.
State v. Patorno, 2001-2585 (La.App. 1st Cir.
6/21/02), 822 So.2d 141, 144.
analyzing circumstantial evidence, La. R.S. 15:438 provides
that the factfinder, in order to convict, must be satisfied
the overall evidence excludes every reasonable hypothesis of
innocence. When a case involves circumstantial evidence and
the trier of fact reasonably rejects the hypothesis of
innocence presented by the defense, that hypothesis falls,
and the defendant is guilty unless there is another
hypothesis that raises a reasonable doubt. State v.
Dyson, 2016-1571 (La.App. 1st Cir. 6/2/17), 222 So.3d
220, 228, writ denied, 2017-1399 (La. 6/15/18), 257
degree murder is the killing of a human being when the
offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great
bodily harm. La. R.S. 14:30.1(A)(1). Specific criminal intent
is that state of mind that exists when the circumstances
indicate that the offender actively desired the prescribed
criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act.
La. R.S. 14:10(1). Though intent is a question of fact, it
need not be proven as a fact. It may be inferred from the
circumstances of the transaction. Thus, specific intent may
be proven by direct evidence, such as statements by a
defendant, or by inference from circumstantial evidence, such
as a defendant's actions or facts depicting the
circumstances. Specific intent is an ultimate legal
conclusion to be resolved by the factfinder. State v.
Coleman, 2017-1045 (La.App. 1st Cir. 4/13/18), 249 So.3d
872, 877, writ denied, 2018-0830 (La. 2/18/19), 263
So.3d 1155. Specific intent to kill may be inferred from a
defendant's act of pointing a gun and firing at a person.
See State v. Maten, 2004-1718 (La.App. 1st
Cir. 3/24/05), 899 So.2d 711, 717, writ denied,
2005-1570 (La. 1/27/06), 922 So.2d 544; State v.
Henderson, 99-1945 (La.App. 1st Cir. 6/23/00), 762 So.2d
747, 751, writ denied, 2000-2223 (La. 6/15/01), 793
State bears the burden of proving the elements of the charged
offense, as well as the identity of the defendant as the
perpetrator. SeeState v. Draughn,
2005-1825 (La. 1/17/07), 950 So.2d 583, 593, cert,
denied,552 U.S. 1012, 128 S.Ct. 537, 169 L.Ed.2d 377
(2007). 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. A positive identification by only one
witness is sufficient to support a ...