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State v. Dantin

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 17, 2019


          On Appeal from the 17th Judicial District Court, Parish of Lafourche, State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 574960 The Honorable F. Hugh Larose, Judge Presiding

          Kristine Russell District Attorney Joseph S. Soignet Assistant District Attorney Thibodaux, Louisiana Attorneys for the State of Louisiana

          Lieu T. Vo Clark Mandeville, Louisiana Attorney for Defendant/Appellant, Cody C. Dantin


          CRAIN, J.

         The defendant, Cody Dantin, was convicted of possession of a firearm by a person convicted of certain felonies (count one), and armed robbery with a firearm (count two). See La. R.S. 14:95.1, 14:64, and 14:64.3. On count one, the trial court sentenced the defendant to twenty years imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. On count two, the trial court sentenced the defendant to ninety-nine years imprisonment at hard labor, plus an additional five years at hard labor pursuant to the enhancement provision of Louisiana Revised Statute 14:64.3, all to be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. The sentences were to be served consecutively. We affirm the convictions, amend the sentence on count one and affirm as amended, and affirm the sentence on count two.


         On March 8, 2018, Amber Scott, the mother of the defendant's children, used a cell phone to access her Facebook account and received a message from Ryan Kraemer, the victim. According to Amber, she replied to the message, then the defendant took the cell phone and began messaging Ryan while posing as Amber. Ryan was asked to pick up Amber at a given address to give her a ride. When Ryan arrived, Amber opened the door and let him into the residence, then left him in the living room while she tended to her dog.[2] Two men with their faces covered entered the living room armed with a gun and a bat and began beating and threatening to kill Ryan.

         Ryan identified the defendant as the man armed with the gun. Ryan testified the defendant removed his mask during the incident, allowing Ryan to see his face. Ryan explained he and the defendant knew each other, having served time together at a detention center. The defendant's friend, Preston Law, testified at trial and admitted he participated in the attack and the defendant was armed with a gun.[3]

         The defendant held the gun to Ryan's head and demanded Ryan give him money. Ryan removed his wallet from his back pocket and threw it on the floor. Ryan testified the men continued beating and threatening to kill him, pressing the barrel of the gun against his head. Ryan stated he felt the trigger being pulled and heard the gun click two or three times, but it failed to fire.[4] Preston explained the defendant "obviously" did not know how to operate the gun's safety lock feature, which prevented the defendant from shooting Ryan.

         The defendant then began fighting to remove Ryan's new tennis shoes, resulting in Ryan's shoes and pants coming off. Ryan was finally able to escape to his truck, wearing only his sweatshirt. The defendant followed him to his truck, still pointing the gun at him and pulling the trigger. While Ryan was looking for the keys he left in the truck console, the defendant reached into the truck, attempting to remove a speaker box located under the back seat. Ryan was able to start his truck and leave the residence, driving into the front porch in the process. Ryan drove to a nearby convenience store where he put on some work pants he kept in his truck and asked someone to call the police because the defendant, who he identified by name, and another guy just robbed him. Ryan eventually went to the hospital and was treated for his injuries, which included a broken jaw.


         In assignment of error number one, the defendant argues the trial court erred in denying his motion for new trial in which he claimed he was denied a fair trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant argues his defense counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the admission of (1) hearsay testimony, (2) other crimes evidence, and (3) the firearm. The defendant further contends his defense counsel was ineffective in failing to (1) call a witness to present forensic testimony, (2) file a motion for the release of the victim's medical records, (3) impeach Preston, and (4) prepare and advise the defendant.[5]

         A defendant is entitled to effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 13 of the Louisiana Constitution. A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is analyzed under the two-part test of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984); State v. Fuller, 454 So.2d 119, 125 n.9 (La. 1984). The defendant must show (1) his attorney's performance was deficient, and (2) the deficiency prejudiced him. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. Counsel's performance is deficient when it can be shown that he made errors so serious that he was not functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed to the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. To show prejudice, the defendant must demonstrate that but for the counsel's unprofessional errors, there is a reasonable probability the outcome of the trial would have been different. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068. It is unnecessary to address the issues of both counsel's performance and prejudice to the defendant if the defendant makes an inadequate showing on one of the components. State v. Mills, 13-0573 (La.App. 1 Cir. 8/27/14), 153 So.3d 481, 497, writs denied, 14-2027 (La. 5/22/15), 170 So.3d 982 and 14-2269 (La. 9/18/15), 178 So.3d 139.

         A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is generally relegated to postconviction relief, unless the record permits definitive resolution on appeal. State v. Bright, 98-0398 (La. 4/11/00), 776 So.2d 1134, 1157. Decisions relating to investigation, preparation, and strategy cannot possibly be reviewed on appeal. State v. Robinson, 18-1005 (La.App. 1 Cir. 4/10/19), 275 So.3d 938, 946. The defendant's allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel with respect to the admission of the firearm, failing to obtain the victim's medical records or a forensic witness, and failing to advise and prepare the defendant for trial cannot be sufficiently investigated from an inspection of the record alone. Accordingly, these allegations are more properly reserved for an application for post-conviction relief, subject to the requirements of Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure articles 924 through 930.9. However, the record is adequate to resolve the remaining allegations.

         Hearsay and ...

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