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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 18, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
ROBERT MARQUEZ WILSON

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF EVANGELINE, NO. 112303-F HONORABLE CHUCK R. WEST, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Paula Corley Marx Counsel for Defendant/Appellant: Robert Marquez Wilson

          Trent Brignac District Attorney Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana

          Jeffrey M. Landry Attorney General Colin Clark J. Taylor Gray Assistant Attorney General Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY, JUDGE.

         Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence. For the following reasons, Defendant's conviction is reversed, his sentence is vacated, and this matter is remanded for a new trial.

         FACTS & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This matter involves a shooting that occurred in Ville Platte on April 23, 2017. Prior to the shooting, there was an altercation between Defendant, Robert Marquez Wilson, and Santiago Thomas. After the shooting, Santiago found a bullet that had pierced the back of his car. A bystander, Kathy Weston, was also shot and killed. On April 11, 2018, Defendant was indicted for second degree murder, a violation of La.R.S. 14:30.1. The State charged Defendant with other offenses by bill of information although the trial court ordered these to be severed from the murder charge on October 1, 2018. On that same day, a jury was selected, and trial commenced one day later. On October 5, 2018, the jury returned a responsive verdict finding Defendant guilty of manslaughter, a violation of La.R.S. 14:31. On January 17, 2019, Defendant was sentenced to twenty-five years at hard labor. Defendant appealed.

         On appeal, Defendant asserts the following three errors:

1. The trial court erred in its denial of Robert Marquez Wilson's right to confront and cross-examine two witnesses for the State. The court abused its discretion in weighing the out of court statements for credibility as a test to carve out an exception to the confrontation clause.
2. The State failed to prove Robert Marquez Wilson fired the shot that resulted in the death of Kathy Weston, thus the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Robert Marquez Wilson was guilty of manslaughter.
3. A. Louisiana's constitution and statutory provisions allowing a conviction with a verdict of less than all twelve jurors violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The 1898 Constitution of Louisiana was written "to establish the supremacy of the white race in this State." As racism was a substantial or motivating factor behind the enactment of the laws allowing non-unanimous jury verdicts, those provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause.
B. Considering the sixth amendment right to a jury trial applies in state criminal courts, the right to a unanimous jury verdict should also apply ...

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