FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 536-589,
SECTION "H" Honorable Camille Buras, Judge
Cannizzaro DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORLEANS PARISH Donna Andrieu
CHIEF OF APPEALS ORLEANS PARISH Irena Zajickova ASSISTANT
DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR STATE OF LOUISIANA/APPELLEE
Constance Hanes LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Regina
Bartholomew-Woods, Judge Dale N. Atkins
N. ATKINS JUDGE
Tyrone Duckett ("Defendant"), appeals his
convictions and sentences for one count of second-degree
murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder, and one
count of obstruction of justice. For the reasons that follow,
we affirm Defendant's convictions and sentences.
August 17, 2017, Defendant was indicted on three counts: the
second-degree murder of Ferniqua Johnson; the attempted
second-degree murder of Damion Blanton; and obstruction of
justice, violations of La. R.S. 14.30.1, La. R.S. 14:(27)30.1
and La. R.S. 14:130.1, respectively.
a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty on all counts. On
October 23, 2018, the district court sentenced Defendant to
life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Ferniqua
Johnson; the maximum statutory limit of fifty years
imprisonment for the attempted second-degree murder of Damion
Blanton; and the maximum statutory limit of forty years
imprisonment for obstruction of justice. The district court
further ordered that all sentences run consecutively. This
trial, Detective Jamaane Roy of the New Orleans Police
Department ("NOPD") Homicide Division testified
that, on the evening of May 1, 2017, he was dispatched to the
1600 block of Spain Street in response to a shooting. When he
arrived on the scene, he learned that one victim, Ferniqua
Johnson, was found deceased in the back of a shotgun-style
residence located on North Claiborne Avenue, around the
corner from the crime scene. Det. Roy testified that he
observed a trail of blood splatter from the crime scene to
the house that led through the residence where Ms.
Johnson's body was located. Det. Roy also located three
spent casings and five live rounds at the crime scene, which
he testified he sent to the NOPD ballistics lab for testing.
Roy testified he learned there was a second victim of the
shooting who had already been transferred to University
Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. Det. Roy met
with the second victim, Damion Blanton, at University Medical
Center. Mr. Blanton informed Det. Roy that there were two
people involved in the shooting: an African American female
with bright red hair and an African American male with
"jacked up teeth."
Roy obtained two surveillance videos from a residence on
Spain Street. The videos showed Mr. Blanton walking on
Mandeville Street and then turn onto Derbigny Street before
taking a right onto Spain Street while constantly looking
behind him. A gold Toyota or Lexus with dark tinted windows
and aftermarket rims could be seen following Mr. Blanton in
the video. Eventually, the video showed Mr. Blanton running
while the gold car stops and a male front seat passenger
wearing a dark colored shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes could
be observed exiting the vehicle with what appeared to be a
bulge in the waistband of his pants before getting back into
the vehicle after the car appeared to go around the block.
The gold car was also observed pulling into a driveway of a
house at the corner of Derbigny and Spain Streets and
stopping while the driver of the vehicle got out to look in
an alley before getting back in the vehicle and driving away.
Eventually, the front seat passenger could be seen exiting
the vehicle again and walking up St. Roch Street.
another point in the video, Mr. Blanton could again be seen
walking up Spain Street with Ms. Johnson and an unknown male.
A male brandishing a weapon is then seen on the video. Det.
Roy testified he believed the man with the weapon was the
same man seen exiting the gold vehicle based on the fact that
the clothing was the same. The man then fires the weapon at
Mr. Blanton and Ms. Johnson. Mr. Blanton is then seen running
up Spain Street toward North Claiborne Avenue, while Ms.
Johnson falls to the ground. The video then shows the shooter
standing over Ms. Johnson attempting to fire another shot
before leaving. Ms. Johnson is then seen rising from the
ground and walking up Spain Street toward Claiborne Avenue.
Roy also went to Jack's Meat Market, a store located
approximately two blocks from the house where Ms.
Johnson's body was found. There, he obtained surveillance
video from the day of the shooting and observed an African
American female with bright red hair at the store that day.
The store clerk at Jack's Meat Market informed Det. Roy
that he knew the woman as "Kayla" and that she had
a boyfriend who was known as "Tee." Det. Roy also
obtained surveillance video from inside the store and
observed a man fitting the description Mr. Blanton gave of
the shooter who also appeared to be wearing the same clothing
as the shooter from the other surveillance video of the
shooting. Det. Roy obtained a still shot of the suspect from
the video and published it to the media.
his investigation of the shooter's accomplice known as
"Kayla," Det. Roy eventually obtained the name of a
possible female suspect-Raekeda Ikerria Kayla Wright. Det.
Roy obtained a photograph of Ms. Wright and compiled a
photographic line-up including the photograph, which he
showed to Mr. Blanton. Mr. Blanton identified Ms. Wright as
the driver of the vehicle. Det. Roy then obtained an arrest
warrant for Ms. Wright, who was arrested approximately seven
days after the shooting.
time of her arrest, Ms. Wright gave a statement to Det. Roy
in which she identified herself as the woman with the red
hair from the surveillance video from Jack's Meat Market,
but denied being involved in any shooting. Likewise, Ms.
Wright denied being in a relationship with a man known as
"Tee." She also had a cell phone, which was
Roy obtained a search warrant for the contents of Ms.
Wright's cell phone. He testified that he had the phone
"dumped" and obtained all of the contents that were
stored in the phone. Through the phone dump, Det. Roy
testified he was able to see multiple videos and photos of
Ms. Wright with one man. In at least one photo, Ms. Wright
labeled the man as "Zaddyyy" (sic). Det. Roy
testified that the man in the videos and photos appeared to
be Defendant. Det. Roy also testified that he was able to
determine that Ms. Wright communicated by text with a number
labeled as "Zaddy" in her phone 488 times in the
two weeks surrounding the shooting. In these conversations,
"Zaddy" referred to Ms. Wright as "Kayla"
on some occasions and, on other occasions, she referred to
him as "Tyrone." Ms. Wright discussed moving a car
on the day after the shooting with "Zaddy" and
there was also at least one photo of a gold Toyota Camry in
Ms. Wright's phone with a man that appeared to be
Defendant sitting in the driver's seat. Det. Roy
testified that the phone dump data showed that at some point,
a person who identified himself as "Tee" contacted
Ms. Wright from a second phone number.
Roy also testified that, after Ms. Wright was arrested, she
made phone calls from jail to a person she referred to as
"Zaddy" while she referred to herself as
"Kayla." The phone calls Ms. Wright made to
"Zaddy" were entered into evidence at trial. In the
phone calls, "Zaddy" can be heard asking Ms. Wright
"What did they say about me?" to which Ms. Wright
responds: "They rattin'." Later, Ms. Wright can
be heard telling "Zaddy" to "throw the phones
away." Later, "Zaddy" tells Ms. Wright that he
"ditched" the phone.
Roy testified that he ran the phone number of the man Ms.
Wright called from jail whom she referred to as
"Zaddy" and the number was registered to the
Defendant. Det. Roy testified that he then obtained a
photograph of Tyrone Duckett, compiled a photographic line-up
including the photograph, and presented it to Mr. Blanton.
Mr. Blanton positively identified Defendant as the shooter.
On the basis of Mr. Blanton's identification, Det. Roy
issued a warrant for Defendant's arrest.
was arrested pursuant to the warrant approximately two weeks
after the shooting. He gave a statement to Det. Roy.
According to Defendant, he was not the shooter, and he denied
he was "Kayla's" boyfriend. He denied that he
had ever been inside the gold car. He claimed that he heard
around the street that it was "Kayla" and her
boyfriend-a man he knew as "Tank"-who committed the
Erin O'Sullivan, who was qualified as an expert in
forensic pathology, testified at trial that she performed an
autopsy on Ms. Johnson and she located three gunshot wounds
to Ms. Johnson's neck, shoulder, and trunk. Dr.
O'Sullivan opined that Ms. Johnson's cause of death
was multiple gunshot wounds and classified it as a homicide.
McElrath, who was qualified as an expert in firearms and
ballistics testing, testified at trial that, of the five
specimens that were submitted to him for testing-including
what he identified as three spent .22 caliber casings
recovered from the scene, an unknown projectile recovered
from Mr. Blanton's body, an unknown projectile recovered
from Ms. Johnson's body, a bullet fragment recovered from
Ms. Johnson's body, and lead fragments recovered from Ms.
Johnson's body-he could conclusively say that all, but
the bullet fragment, were fired from the same weapon.
Wright, who also goes by the name "Kayla,"
testified that she was in a romantic relationship
with Defendant at the time of the shooting and that they
shared a car-a gold vehicle, which she positively identified
as the gold car shown in the surveillance videos. She
testified that, on the day of the shooting, she was in the
neighborhood earlier in the day, that she left and then
returned to find Defendant playing dice. Ms. Wright stated
that Defendant entered her gold vehicle after finishing the
dice game and that he seemed upset because he had lost money.
Ms. Wright testified that she did not know at the time that
Defendant was planning on shooting anyone, but that she did
suspect that "something was up." Defendant told her
to drive around the block, which she did. She testified that
she let Defendant out of the vehicle twice when he asked to
her to and that, when he re-entered the vehicle the second
time, she saw that he had a gun. He told her it had jammed.
the shooting, Ms. Wright testified she and Defendant
continued to communicate from various numbers via text
message. Ms. Wright testified they discussed moving the
vehicle. She testified that her original statement to Det.
Roy that she was not in a romantic relationship with
Defendant and was not involved in the shooting was not
truthful and that she lied because she loved Defendant and
was afraid that he would retaliate against her or her family
if she told the truth. Ms. Wright identified Defendant as the
shooter on the surveillance video. Finally, she testified
that, while she was at one point in a romantic relationship
with a man called "Tank," she was not in a
relationship with him at the time of the shooting and he was
in jail at the time of the shooting. Mike Reese of the
Louisiana Office of Probation and Parole also testified he
determined that "Tank"-whose given name is Cedrick
Wright-was incarcerated at the time of the shooting.
Blanton testified that, at the time of the shooting, he was
living at the corner of North Claiborne Avenue and Spain
Street. He testified that, on May 1, 2017, he played dice
with some people from the neighborhood, including Defendant,
and he won two to three thousand dollars. He testified that
he knew Defendant from seeing him around the neighborhood,
but he did not know Defendant well.
Blanton identified himself on the surveillance video of the
shooting, saying he was shot in the buttocks. Mr. Blanton
also identified Ms. Johnson on the video and said that he was
walking with her on Spain Street on the evening of the
shooting because he had seen someone following him in a gold
car, and he called his girlfriend to walk home with him. Ms.
Johnson came to walk home with him instead. Mr. Blanton also
testified that he asked a third male to walk with them
because Mr. Blanton knew he carried a gun. Mr. Blanton
further testified that he saw the shooter coming at him and
saw that the ...