FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 526-845,
SECTION "H" Honorable Camille Buras, Judge.
Cannizzaro DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORLEANS PARISH Donna Andrieu
CHIEF OF APPEALS ORLEANS PARISH Scott G. Vincent Assistant
District Attorneys ORLEANS PARISH, COUNSEL FOR STATE OF
G. Whittaker LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, COUNSEL FOR
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Paula A.
Brown, Judge Dale N. Atkins.
N. Atkins Judge.
appeal, defendant, Manuel Dukes ("Defendant"),
seeks review of his conviction on two counts of attempted
indecent behavior with a juvenile. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm Defendant's conviction and find no
error in the trial court's denial of Defendant's
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and denial of
Defendant's Motion for New Trial.
October 22, 2015, the Orleans Parish District Attorney filed
a bill of information charging Defendant with two counts of
indecent behavior with a juvenile, namely C.S and C.B., in
violation of La. R.S. 14:81. Count 1of the bill of
information stated that Defendant, on October 5, 2014:
committed indecent behavior with a juvenile, namely: C.S.,
date of birth 07/23/2008, a child under the age of seventeen,
by committing a lewd or lascivious act upon C.S. thereby
arousing the desires of the said Manuel Dukes aka Dee Dukes,
there being an age difference greater than two (2) years
between C.S. and Manuel Dukes aka Dee Dukes[.]
of the bill of information stated that Defendant, on October
committed indecent behavior with a juvenile, namely: C.B.,
date of birth 02/22/2004, a child under the age of seventeen,
by committing a lewd or lascivious act upon the child,
thereby arousing the desires of the said Manuel Dukes aka Dee
Dukes, there being an age difference greater than two (2)
years between C.B. and Manuel Dukes aka Dee
arraignment on January 8, 2016, Defendant pled not guilty.
Defendant waived his right to a trial by jury and the matter
proceeded to a bench trial on January 16 and 23-25, 2018. At
the close of the State's case, Defendant filed a Motion
for Judgment of Acquittal. The trial court denied the motion.
After considering the evidence, the trial court judge found
Defendant guilty of the responsive verdict attempted indecent
behavior with a juvenile as to both counts.
the trial court rendered its verdict, Defendant filed a
Motion for New Trial. On September 21, 2018, the trial court
heard and denied Defendant's motion. On October 12, 2018,
Defendant was sentenced on each count to three years, six
months, at hard labor, suspended, and three years, six months
active probation, to run concurrently. He was also required
to register as a sex offender and attend sex offender
treatment classes. This appeal followed.
October 5, 2014, the New Orleans Police Department
("NOPD") received a report of child sexual abuse
and dispatched Detective Timothy Jones to 1631 Desire Street,
the address of the reported offense. Det. Jones wore his body
camera, which recorded his preliminary investigation. The
footage showed Det. Jones arriving on the scene, where he was
met by several family members gathered outside the home. He
spoke with the mother of C.B., one of the victims. The mother
stated that Defendant was in the bedroom with the two
children and "must've pulled his thing out. They say
he didn't touch them or show them or anything like
that." She explained that everyone gathered outside was
family who came together at the grandmother's house to
watch the Saints game. Det. Jones requested a child abuse
detective to be dispatched to the scene while he continued
his interview with C.B.'s mother. She stated that
Defendant left the house when he was told the police were
Det. Jones interviewed Cynthia Bee, grandmother of C.B. and
C.S., the two victims. Cynthia Bee stated that while she was
getting ready for church after watching the Saints game with
her family, she walked down the hallway of her mother's
house. As Ms. Bee passed an open doorway, she looked into the
room and saw Defendant had his penis in his hand. She
indicated that his penis was in an aroused state. She saw
C.B. and C.S. standing on the side of the bed, changing the
baby's diaper, while Defendant was telling them to
"Get up out of here! Get up out of here!" It was
Ms. Bee's belief that Defendant was saying that to get
the children's attention to look in his direction. Ms.
Bee, upset by what she saw, went to the kitchen to tell her
mother what she witnessed. Defendant followed her and
attempted to shake her hand. He denied it was his penis,
telling her that what she thought she saw was actually his
belt. Ms. Bee disagreed, asserting that
Defendant was not wearing a belt.
Jones concluded his interview with Ms. Bee by asking her,
"Has there been any issues like this in the past?"
Ms. Bee replied in the affirmative, adding "a long time
ago." When Det. Jones asked the mothers of C.B. and C.S.
the same question, both women confirmed that something
similar happened with Defendant a long time ago.
Jones informed the mothers that someone from Child Abuse
Services was on her way over to conduct interviews with the
victims and that the mothers should avoid any discussion of
the incident with C.B. and C.S. while he completed his
thereafter, NOPD Special Victims Detective Jaunay Ross
arrived on the scene to pick up the investigation where Det.
Jones left off. Ms. Bee, C.B., and C.B.'s mother were
each interviewed separately by Det. Ross. When she
interviewed C.B., the victim stated that she and her cousin
were asked to change a baby's diaper, so they entered the
room where the diapers were kept and saw Defendant lying on
the bed. C.B. recalled that C.S. began playing on a cell
phone, while C.B. started changing the baby's diaper.
During this initial interview, C.B. told Det. Ross that she
did not see Defendant's penis because she was not looking
in that direction.
days later, Joshua Long, a forensic interviewer at the
Children's Advocacy Center in Children's Hospital,
interviewed C.B. and C.S. During C.S.'s interview, she
stated that she had gone into a bedroom at her
grandmother's house to change a baby's diaper when
Defendant lowered his pants and exposed his
"thing." She knew that her "maw maw" had
observed the incident but recalled nothing more. Out of
concern for the child's well-being, Long ended the
interview when C.S began to exhibit signs of anxiety.
recounted the incident with more detail during her forensic
interview with Long. She stated that she was in the bedroom,
changing the baby's diaper, when Defendant entered the
room, lay across the bed, and told C.S. to move behind him.
C.B. stated that Defendant then "unbuckled" his
pants, put both of his hands in his pants, and "pulled
out his thing." Immediately thereafter, her grandmother
passed the door, looked inside, and Defendant exited the
bedroom, followed her grandmother, trying to shake her hand.
C.B. said that while the family waited for the police to
arrive that afternoon, Defendant whispered to her to not tell
anyone what happened and then he left the house.
told Long that she believed C.S. may have also witnessed
defendant exposing himself as he was lying flat on the bed,
holding his genitals in the air. She said that when Defendant
told her to look in his direction, she thought C.S. had also
the forensic interview with Long, C.B. also told of two other
incidents involving Defendant that occurred the same day but
at separate times. Once, while she was sitting on the sofa in
the living room, Defendant grabbed C.B.'s legs, pulled
her off the sofa and onto the floor, spread her legs open,
and placed his body between them. He was fully clothed at the
time, but it still made her feel "creepy." She also
told the interviewer that her mother, grandmother, and aunt
were all present during the incident. In the second incident,
C.B. recalled that Defendant chased her down the hallway
earlier in the day. She remembered that his hands were in his
pants at the time.
on the initial interviews Det. Ross conducted, as well as the
forensic interviews conducted by Long that she observed on
closed circuit television, Det. Ross procured an arrest
warrant and charged Defendant with two counts of indecent
behavior with a juvenile.
required by La. C.Cr.P. art. 920, a review of the record for
errors patent reveals none.
appeal, Defendant asserts two assignments of error. Defendant
claims the trial court erred when it denied his Motion for
Acquittal. Defendant also argues the trial court erred when
it denied his Motion for New Trial based on the State's
failure to disclose favorable and impeaching evidence.
of Error Number One-Sufficiency of Evidence
first assignment of error, Defendant asserts the evidence
presented by the State was insufficient to support the
charges alleged in the bill of information. Defendant argues
that both counts in the indictment alleged that defendant
committed a lewd or lascivious act upon the victims,
who were under the age of seventeen, with more than a
two-year age difference between defendant and the victims,
but presented no evidence that defendant touched either
victim in any way. Accordingly, Defendant contends that the
State failed to prove an essential element of the offense and
the trial court should have granted Defendant's Motion
issues are raised on appeal both as to the sufficiency of the
evidence and as to one or more trial errors, the reviewing
court should first determine the sufficiency of the evidence.
When the entirety of the evidence both admissible and
inadmissible is sufficient to support the conviction, the
accused is not entitled to an acquittal, and the reviewing
court must review the assignments of error to determine
whether the accused is entitled to a new trial. State v.
Hearold, 603 So.2d 731, 734 (La. 1992).
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a
conviction, Louisiana appellate courts apply the standard
enunciated in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99
S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). Under this standard, the
appellate court must determine that the evidence, viewed in
the light most favorable to the prosecution, was sufficient
to convince a rational trier of fact that all of the elements
of the crime had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Tate, 01-1658, p. 4 (La. 5/20/03), 851
So.2d 921, 928.
principal criteria of a Jackson v. Virginia review
is rationality. State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305,
1310 (La. 1988). In reviewing the evidence, the whole record
must be considered because a rational trier of fact would
consider all the evidence, and the actual trier of fact is
presumed to have acted rationally until it appears otherwise.
Id. If rational triers of fact could disagree as to
the interpretation of the evidence, the rational trier's
view of all the evidence most favorable to the prosecution
must be adopted. Id.; State v. Egana,
97-0318, p. 6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/3/97), 703 So.2d 223, 228.
State v. Green,588 So.2d 757, 758 (La.App. 4 Cir.
1991). It is not the function of the appellate court
to assess the credibility of witnesses or reweigh the
evidence. State v. McGhee, 2015-2140, p. 2 (La.
6/29/17), 223 So.3d 1136, 1137. See also State v.
Scott, 2012-1603, p. 11 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/23/13), 131
So.3d 501, 508. Credibility determinations, as well as the
weight to be attributed to the evidence, are soundly within
the province of the trier of fact. Id., (citing
State v. Brumfield, 93-2404 (La.App. 4 Cir.
6/15/94), 639 So.2d 312, 316). "Moreover, conflicting
testimony as to factual matters is a question of weight of
the evidence, not sufficiency. Such a determination rests
solely with the trier of fact, who may accept or reject, in
whole or in part, the testimony of any witness."
Id., (citing State v. Jones, 537 So.2d