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State v. Richardson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 15, 2020

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
JEROME RICHARDSON Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 344, 586 Honorable Charles Gordon Tutt, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Sherry WattersCounsel for Appellant

          JEROME RICHARDSON Pro Se

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. Counsel for Appellee District Attorney

          KODIE K. SMITH WILLIAM C. GASKINS CHARLES K. PARR Assistant District Attorneys

          Before STONE, COX, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          COX, J.

         This criminal appeal arises from the First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Jerome Richardson was charged by indictment with first degree rape in violation of La. R.S. 14:42(A)(1), (2), or (3). Following a jury trial, Richardson was found guilty as charged by a 10-2 verdict. The district court sentenced Richardson to the statutorily mandated sentence of life imprisonment without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Richardson did not file a motion to reconsider sentence. He now appeals his conviction. For the following reasons, we affirm Richardson's conviction and sentence.

         FACTS

         On November 17, 2016, Richardson was charged by indictment with the first degree rape of D.C. The indictment stated that this crime occurred on July 7, 2016. The jury trial commenced on March 11, 2019. The following evidence and testimony was heard by the jury at trial.

         The State's first witness was the victim, D.C. D.C. testified that on July 7, 2016, she was visiting Shreveport when she posted an ad on Backpage.com, advertising sex for money. D.C. stated that Richardson responded to the ad by phone, the two agreed to meet, and Richardson agreed to pay $200 or $300. D.C. testified that she was dressed in black Nike tights, a white shirt, a pink and white Nike sports bra, white sandals, and a hair bonnet when she was dropped off by a male friend to a home she suspected Richardson owned. She stated that she observed that the home appeared to be abandoned, and this caused her to fear. D.C. testified that she told Richardson that she did not believe he could pay for her services. She stated that in response, Richardson pulled out a silver gun, put it to her head, and "made me go in the shed." She testified that she was forced into the shed, the gun was continuously placed to her head, and Richardson told her he would kill her if she ran.

         D.C. testified that when they were in the shed, Richardson led her to the back wall and made her take off her clothes. She stated that Richardson took her phone and other belongings and put his penis into her vagina. She stated that he also forced her to perform oral sex. She testified that throughout the sexual acts, he repeatedly threatened her and said he would kill her if she moved. She stated that at some point, Richardson put the gun down, at which time she elbowed him and ran out of the shed naked. D.C. testified that she ran to a house and banged on the door while crying. The woman at the first house did not open the door, but D.C. was able to get help and a t-shirt at the second house from Eric Stacey. D.C. stated that she asked Stacey to call the police.

         When the police arrived, D.C. reported what happened to her. However, she did not immediately tell them that she met Richardson on Backpage.com because she feared prosecution for prostitution. Instead, D.C. told them she met Richardson on another website, Tag.com. D.C. subsequently went to the hospital and had an examination for sexual assault. D.C. testified that after the assault, she had abdominal and vaginal pain.

         D.C. testified that she searched for Richardson's phone number on Facebook and found his profile. She stated she was certain she located the man who raped her. She stated that she messaged him on Facebook, questioned his earlier actions, and turned his information over to the police. D.C. was able to identify Richardson in open court as the person who raped her.

         D.C. testified that a week or two after Richardson was arrested, she was contacted by Richardson's family, specifically his sister, Ashley Richardson, and his father. D.C. testified that she developed a relationship with Ashley, and was offered money to not testify against Richardson. D.C. said she did accept the money and, on at least one occasion, she told Richardson's family that she would not testify. She stated that Richardson's father asked her for sexual favors and requested that she write an affidavit denying the allegation against Richardson, but she declined.

         On cross-examination, D.C. admitted that she originally gave police a false name. She told police that her name was Breanna Cole. She also admitted that she told officers that a female friend dropped her off at the house to meet Richardson. D.C. testified that she was unsure how the Richardson family obtained her contact information, but went on to explain that she was contacted by Ashley on Facebook. Ashley gave D.C. her phone number. D.C. admitted that she texted Ashley and requested money, but explained that she was only reminding Ashley of her previous promise to pay one of her bills. She also admitted that in January 2019, when Richardson's trial was initially set to begin, she told Ashley that she would not go to court because of the bond she had formed with Ashley over time. D.C. testified that she was offered $800 not to testify.

         On redirect examination, D.C. explained that she told officers a female friend dropped her off to the location instead of a male friend because the male friend had no knowledge of the activities scheduled. D.C. also acknowledged that in her communications with Richardson's family, she never stated that the rape did not occur.

         Eric Stacey testified next. Stacey testified that on July 7, 2016, he resided at 749 Turner Lane. He stated that after lunchtime, he was home when D.C. knocked on his door naked. He testified that D.C. appeared to have been assaulted, and she was hysterical. He testified that he provided D.C. with a t-shirt and called the police.

         Corporal Brutus Pouncy, a patrol officer of the Shreveport Police Department, testified next. He testified that on July 7, 2016, at about 1:30 p.m., he was dispatched to Turner Lane in Shreveport on suspicion of rape. Cpl. Pouncy stated that he made contact with D.C., who told him her name was Breanna Cole. He noted that when he made contact with D.C., she had a t-shirt on, appeared to be shaken up, and had tears in her eyes. He testified that D.C. told him she made contact with a man named Joe Joe, but she did not know him. He stated that D.C. later told him that she met Joe Joe on Tag.com and planned to meet him to exchange sexual favors for money. After Cpl. Pouncy received D.C.'s statement, another officer transported her to the hospital, and he began taping the scene. Cpl. Pouncy testified that he was unable to locate an address for the house where the rape occurred, but noted that it was boarded and there was a shed behind the house. He stated that inside the shed, he observed clothing on the floor.

         Corporal John Madjerick, a crime scene investigator of the Shreveport Police Department, testified next. He testified that he was involved in the investigation of the rape. He stated that he went to the scene of the storage shed, did a walkthrough, identified items of evidentiary value, photographed the scene, and collected evidence. Cpl. Madjerick testified that he observed that the shed was vacant with dirt and grime built up. He identified photographs that he took of the scene, which consisted of photos of different angles of the home, the shed, the backyard, the doors of the shed, and inside of the shed, which showed clothing on the floor. In the shed, Cpl. Madjerick found a black shirt, pink sports bra, a pair of black leggings, pink women's underwear, a pair of white sandals, and a leopard print hair net. He identified these items in open court. He testified that after he collected the items of clothing, he sealed them in a brown paper evidence bag and submitted them to the Shreveport Police Department's property room.

         Cpl. Madjerick also processed evidence found in Richardson's mother's home, 7205 Rain Street, where Richardson resided. He recovered a dark gray/silver firearm with a woodgrain handle from the kitchen counter. The firearm was not sent to the crime lab for testing. On cross-examination, Cpl. Madjerick explained that he did not find any hair on the clothing he collected, that there were possible fibers, but the clothing was not tested at the crime lab.

         Detective Gilbert Monereau of the Shreveport Police Department Sex Crimes Unit testified next. Detective Monereau testified that he had minimal involvement in the case. He testified that he took a statement from D.C., collected the Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK kit) from the SANE nurse, and transported the kit to the police station. On cross-examination, Detective Monereau acknowledged that he did not complete a report in this case.

         Detective Monique Robinson Coleman of the Shreveport Police Department Sex Crimes Unit testified next. Detective Coleman testified that she responded to the crime scene on the day in question and arranged and conducted an interview with D.C. Detective Coleman testified about the following exchange she had with D.C. on July 13, 2016. D.C. told Detective Coleman that she was in town visiting friends when she created an ad on Backpage.com. D.C. told Detective Coleman that she met a man named Joe Joe, they discussed companionship, and D.C. agreed to meet him. She testified that D.C. stated that she had a friend drop her off near the location, and after her arrival, Joe Joe changed the location. D.C. told Detective Coleman that when she arrived at the new location, she saw a black man standing near a fence. D.C. felt uneasy about the man's physical appearance and the appearance of the house where they met. D.C. told Detective Coleman that she told the man that she would leave. The man then reached into his pocket, brandished a silver handgun, pointed the handgun at D.C., grabbed her by her hair, and dragged her into the shed. D.C. told Detective Coleman that the man took her personal belongings, which included her identification and cellphone, and then vaginally raped her. D.C. told Detective Coleman that in addition to raping her, the man threatened her repeatedly and made her perform oral sex on him. At some point, D.C. pleaded with the man to stop. She told Detective Coleman that she was able to persuade the man to put the gun down, and at that point, she ran away naked and began beating on doors. D.C. stated she was able to make contact with one of the neighbors, who provided her with a t-shirt and called the police.

         Detective Coleman testified that they were not initially able to develop a suspect, but eventually developed a suspect with D.C.'s help. Detective Coleman was able to match the physical description that D.C. originally gave of the suspect with the image on a Facebook profile that D.C. provided to detectives. Once Detective Coleman had a suspect, she stated that she obtained a search warrant for his residence. She testified that Richardson's mother indicated that he lived in the home and had intentions of moving, but his personal belongings remained in the home. As a result of the search, Detective Coleman recovered several cell phones and a handgun. Detective Coleman testified that she was able to retrieve some data from the collected cellphones, but that some of the cellphones were unable to be processed.

         Detective Coleman further testified that she transferred the PERK kit and DNA and/or buccal swabs from Richardson to the North Louisiana Crime Lab. She stated that after she transferred both pieces of evidence, she was notified that DNA matching Richardson was found on evidence collected from D.C. She testified that Richardson was then charged with first degree rape. Detective Coleman identified Richardson in open court as the suspect. On cross-examination, Detective Coleman agreed that D.C. told her she had been dragged by her hair, but that they did not recover any hair from the scene.

         Next, Detective Michael Jones, a sex crimes detective with the Shreveport Police Department, testified. Detective Jones testified that he collected DNA from Richardson. Detective Jones identified the DNA buccal swabs in open court. On cross-examination, Detective Jones acknowledged that he did not complete a report in this case.

         Kimberly Donelson, the SANE nurse who conducted the evaluation of D.C., testified next, and was accepted as an expert in forensic sexual assault examination. Ms. Donelson testified that on July 7, 2016, at about 3:20 p.m., she completed a medical evaluation and a forensic collection of evidence with D.C. She noted that D.C. appeared tense and tearful. She stated that D.C. had not showered from the time of the assault until the examination. Ms. Donelson testified that she conducts an alternate light source evaluation on every patient. She explained that the alternate light source indicates possible locations of semen. She testified that during D.C.'s examination, the alternate light source had a positive reaction to D.C.'s genital area. Ms. Donelson stated that she performed another exam that uses a substance called toluidine blue dye, which returned no results. She testified that toluidine blue dye does not always show whether or not a person was raped. She stated that none of her findings indicated trauma, but that only 20 percent of patients have traumatic injuries.

         Ms. Donelson testified that she collected clothing from D.C. and turned the clothing and the PERK kit over to detectives. She identified the PERK kit in open court, which included blood samples, saliva samples, cervical swabs, perineal swabs, vaginal washings, oral swabs, fingernail swabs, pubic hair combings, and external genital swabs. Ms. Donelson stated that she also turned over her report to detectives. In her report, Ms. Donelson noted that D.C. stated that she had a pain level of 8 out of 10, with pain in her private area. On cross-examination, Ms. Donelson admitted that she did not observe any surface injuries in D.C.'s genital area. She did, however, testify that she observed a rub abrasion.

         Next, Kari Shiffman Dicken, a forensic DNA analyst with the North Louisiana Crime Lab, testified. Ms. Dicken was accepted as an expert in forensic DNA analysis. Ms. Dicken testified that she received D.C.'s PERK kit on July 11, 2016, which contained reference samples from D.C. On August 22, 2016, she received reference samples from Richardson. On August 23, 2016, she received a swab from the grip of a gun. Ms. Dicken identified the report she generated in this case in open court. Ms. Dicken testified that she conducted two DNA analyses in this case. She stated that she conducted autosomal testing, which is looking at the entire DNA strand, and Y chromosome testing, which looks at the specific Y chromosome. She explained that she compares the evidence samples to the known reference samples and checks for consistencies.

         Ms. Dicken testified that when she receives a PERK or sexual assault kit, she first screens the samples looking for prostate-specific antigen as well as sperm. She stated that if those items are present, it indicates sexual contact. She testified that she conducted the initial screening as well as DNA analysis for autosomal and Y STR testing on the two external genitalia swabs, which tested positive for prostate-specific antigen, a fluid present in the male prostate and an indicator for semen. She confirmed that she was able to determine that the DNA profile for the autosomal testing of the external genitalia swab was consistent ...


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