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State v. Ford

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 26, 2019



          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Andrea F. Long Matthew Whitworth Brittany Beckner


          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Robert A. Chaisson, and John J. Molaison, Jr.


         Defendant appeals his conviction and enhanced sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences on count 2 and 3. Further, we remand for clarification of defendant's multiple offender sentence imposed on count one, and for the correction of errors patent on the face of the record.


         On February 23, 2018, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant, Henry Ford, III, in count 1 with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a violation of La. R.S. 14:95.1, in count 2 with resisting an officer with the use of violence, a violation of La. R.S. 14:108.2, and in count 3 with unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, a violation of La. R.S. 14:62.3. On March 19, 2018, defendant pled not guilty to all counts. Defendant thereafter filed a "Motion to Declare Article 782(A) Unconstitutional Because It Allows for a Non-Unanimous Verdict In This Second Class Case;" however, the record does not reflect that the trial court ruled on defendant's motion. The matter proceeded to a jury trial on October 22, 2018, at the conclusion of which defendant was found guilty as charged on counts 1 and 2, and guilty of attempted unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling on count 3. On November 8, 2018, the trial court sentenced defendant to serve 20 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence on count one, three years at hard labor on count two, and three years at hard labor on count three, with all sentences to be served concurrently.

         On December 11, 2018, the State filed a multiple offender bill of information, alleging that defendant was a second felony offender. Defendant filed a motion for appeal[1] on December 27, 2018, that was granted on January 3, 2019. On May 9, 2019, following a hearing on the multiple offender bill, defendant was adjudicated a second felony offender. At that time, the court vacated the original sentence for count 1, and resentenced defendant to a term of 20 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The enhanced sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the previously imposed sentences for counts 2 and 3. Defendant objected to the sentence. On May 14, 2019, the trial court made a nunc pro tunc minute entry which indicated that defendant's sentence as a second felony offender was 25 years without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

         The instant appeal followed.


         At trial, Commander Roma Reedom of the Jefferson Parish 911 Communications Division verified the report of an incident that occurred on January 1, 2018, at approximately six minutes after midnight. At that time, a caller who wished to remain anonymous reported that "she's heard five shots." At no point did the caller identify the shooter.

         Jefferson Parish Deputy Kenneth Bonura testified that on January 1, 2018, he was assigned to the Second District, where he patrolled the Harvey, Gretna, and Terrytown areas. On that date, he was dispatched to the Woodmere neighborhood, after a complainant had reported multiple gunshots near an intersection. After arriving in the area where the shots were reported, Deputy Bonura and Deputy Conner Tims parked on the corner of Morriswood Drive and Keith Way. Upon exiting the unit, Deputy Bonura heard approximately 10 gunshots. At that time, Deputy Bonura approached the corner of Dulaney Drive and Keith Way on foot and observed a parked vehicle. He also saw someone walking in front of the houses on Dulaney Drive toward Keith Way. Deputy Bonura called for backup.

         While waiting for backup to arrive, Deputy Bonura saw the individual in front of the houses walk "out of sight" on Keith Way, and he also saw three people exit the parked vehicle and walk toward Dulaney Drive. Deputies Bonura and Tims approached the occupants of the vehicle to ask if they had information about the gunshots, at which time they informed the deputies that the gunshots were closer to the intersection of Keith Way and Dulaney Drive. A third deputy, Deputy Benjamin Blevins, arrived while Deputy Bonura was speaking to the occupants of the car. At that time, Deputies Bonura and Blevins saw the individual, who had previously walked away, return and walk close to the houses nearby. The individual glanced over at the deputies and pulled a black hoodie up halfway in front of his face, while holding his waistband with his left hand. The action of the "suspect" holding his waistband led Deputy Bonura to believe that the individual was holding a weapon. Deputies Bonura and Blevins asked the individual to come over and speak with them, but he refused to comply, and pulled his hood down further in front of his face. The deputies asked the suspect a second time to come speak with them and they began to take steps toward him. The suspect then ran behind a car and toward the front porch of the home located at 3840 Dulaney while holding his waistband.

         The deputies gave the suspect verbal commands at that time to stop running and to show his hands. The suspect replied that he was trying to get home. Concerned that the suspect was armed and about to run into a house full of people, Deputy Bonura grabbed the suspect while he was making his way through the front door and brought him to the ground[2] to prevent him from gaining further access to the home.[3] During the struggle, Deputy Bonura tried to keep defendant's left arm pinned in order to prevent him from reaching his waistband. Meanwhile, the guests at a New Year's Eve party in progress at the home started to approach the scene of the struggle between Deputy Bonura and defendant before Deputy Bonura gave a command to stay back. The owner of the home[4] assisted in keeping the guests away from Deputy Bonura and defendant. While trying to place defendant in handcuffs, Deputy Bonura turned defendant over onto his back when he "heard a loud plank sound on the floor." When Deputy Bonura looked over, he saw a black handgun, which Deputy Blevins immediately recovered.[5] As Deputy Blevins secured the firearm, Deputy Jeffrey Easterby assisted Deputy Bonura in handcuffing defendant. Defendant refused to stand up and had to be carried out to a police unit.

         After the owner of the home located at 3840 Dulaney, Carroll Hills, indicated that he wished to press charges against defendant, Deputy Bonura arrested defendant and informed him of his Miranda rights. Defendant refused to provide deputies with his name, but his identity was learned after running defendant's fingerprints through an AFIS machine at the ...

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