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State v. Lynn

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 15, 2020

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
WILLIE DEWAYNE LYNN Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 338131 Honorable Katherine C. Dorroh, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Douglas L. Harville Counsel for Appellant

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

          TRENEISHA J. HILL CHARLES K. PARR JASON W. WALTMAN Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and STONE, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, C.J.

         The defendant, Willie Dewayne Lynn, was charged by bill of information with attempted second degree murder, a violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1 and La. R.S. 14:27. Following a jury trial, he was found guilty as charged. He was sentenced to serve 35 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In 2016, the defendant, Willie Dewayne Lynn, was involved in a romantic relationship with Alexis Arkansas, and they were living together in an apartment on Bernstein Avenue in Shreveport, Louisiana. The defendant and Alexis had been introduced to each other by Dave Delaney ("the victim"), who was the defendant's best friend and Alexis's cousin.

         On January 24, 2016, the defendant and Alexis had a physical altercation, which led to a physical altercation between the defendant and the victim. During the clash, the defendant struck the victim multiple times with a metal rod or pole. As a result of the altercation, the victim sustained severe injuries to his head, suffers left-sided paralysis and is permanently disabled.

         During the defendant's trial, Alexis testified as follows: on January 24, 2016, she was having a party at her apartment to celebrate her birthday; she invited the victim and her friends, Rose Hunter and Jameshia Allen; at approximately 10:15 p.m., the defendant called her on the telephone, and they began to argue; she ended the telephone conversation; approximately 15 minutes later, the defendant came to the apartment, and they became embroiled in a physical altercation; by this time, the victim had gone outside; Rose and Jameshia were sitting on the sofa watching the altercation; she and the defendant exchanged "punches"; during the "scuffle," she and the defendant ended up on the balcony overlooking the parking lot of the apartment complex; she saw the victim in the parking lot and called down to him for help; the victim admonished them about fighting and told them to "cut this bullsh*t out"; the defendant and the victim began arguing; the defendant went downstairs and he and the victim "got to fist fighting"; she watched the fight between the two men from the balcony of her apartment; the victim struck the defendant with a padlock; the defendant told the victim, "Hold up, I got something for you"; the defendant reentered the apartment, put on his shoes, went back downstairs, and retrieved a "pole" from the bed of his pickup truck; meanwhile, the victim remained in the parking lot yelling at the defendant; the defendant began swinging the pole at the victim; the victim tripped and fell to the ground, and the defendant began hitting the victim with the pole; the defendant struck the victim "three or four" times while the victim lay on the ground; from her vantage point on the balcony, it looked as if the defendant had struck the victim on the legs;[1]she noticed that the victim was not kicking or trying to get up from the ground; she went downstairs and observed that the victim was lying on the ground bleeding from his head; the victim's head was "in a puddle of blood"; the defendant then chased her with the pole in his hand; she ran into her apartment and locked the door; and the defendant "kicked down" the door, entered the apartment to search "for something," then left the apartment.

         Alexis was then questioned regarding the statement she provided to police officers on the night of the incident. An audio recording of Alexis's statement was played to refresh her recollection. Thereafter, Alexis testified that she recalled telling a detective that after the defendant beat the victim, he chased her back to her apartment and kicked down the door; while in the apartment with her, the defendant stated, "I'll kill you, too." Nevertheless, during her testimony at trial, Alexis denied the truthfulness of her initial statement to the detective. She testified that the defendant did not make that statement to her and claimed that she was intoxicated on the night of the incident. Additionally, Alexis testified that she and the defendant spoke on the telephone every day after his arrest, and that she had spoken to him the day before she testified. According to Alexis, she and the defendant continued to be "in a relationship."

         Rose Hunter testified as follows: she was a friend of Alexis and the former girlfriend of the victim; she was at the apartment Alexis shared with the defendant on the night of the incident; she heard Alexis and the defendant arguing and "cussing" on the telephone; Alexis hung up on the defendant, and he entered the apartment, hit a beer bottle on the table, and asked Alexis, "B*tch, what I told you about playing with me on the phone?"; Alexis and the defendant began physically fighting; the victim was in the parking lot "fixing a drink"; the victim and the defendant "exchanged words" while the defendant and Alexis were fighting on the balcony; when the victim pulled out a padlock, the defendant stated, "Hold up," briefly reentered the apartment, then went to his truck; the defendant armed himself with a "large rod" that he retrieved from the bed of his truck; the rod was approximately 2½ to 3 feet long; the victim had a reputation for keeping a padlock on his person to use as a weapon when fighting; both men began "swinging" at each other; the victim "busted" the defendant's lip and walked away; the defendant hit the victim "upside the head" with the pole and the victim "went down"; the defendant repeatedly struck the victim in the head with the pole after he fell to the ground; the victim never got back up; "after [the defendant] hit [the victim] one time, [the victim] went down [and] did not try to get up"; the victim "was not trying to do anything else[;] [the defendant] just constantly was hitting him while he was down"; the defendant struck the victim in the head and on his legs with the pole "five or six times; the victim had a "gashed head with blood everywhere"; she ran down the stairs to the parking lot to check on the victim; the defendant ran back upstairs to the apartment, "busted down the door," and then returned to the parking lot and struck the victim "several more times"; she observed the victim lying in "bubbling blood" and gasping; and the defendant fled when they heard sirens approaching.

         On cross-examination, Rose admitted that on the night of the incident, she told the detectives that the defendant was defending himself against the victim, who was armed with a padlock. During her testimony on redirect examination, Rose explained that the victim put his hand in his pocket (as if to retrieve the padlock), but he did not advance toward the defendant, and no "licks" had been exchanged at that point. According to Rose, the defendant returned to the apartment then proceeded to his truck to arm himself with the pole. She stated that during this time, the victim was standing in the same place. Further, Rose affirmed that the defendant continued to beat the victim in the head with the pole after the victim fell to the ground.

         Jameshia Allen, the victim's godsister also testified.[2] During her testimony, she described the telephone argument and physical altercation between the defendant and Alexis. Jameshia further testified as follows: she did not intervene in the fight between the couple because "they [are] going to get back together in the end"; once the fighting extended to the balcony, the victim yelled for them to get back inside so the police would not be called; that was when the defendant "snapped" and went downstairs to "face up" with the victim; when the defendant was "faced up" with the victim, the defendant stated, "[W]ell, I got something for you"; she did not see any "blows thrown" at that point; the defendant ran back upstairs and she thought he may be getting a gun; however, the defendant exited the apartment without a weapon and went to his truck; she could not see what the defendant retrieved from the bed of the truck; the victim was still standing in the parking lot when the defendant began swinging at him; the defendant "just repeatedly beat - was beating [the victim] in the head"; once the defendant struck the victim, he fell to the ground "on his stomach"; the defendant continued to beat him in the head; she ran downstairs to see if the victim was alive; the victim was "choking on his own blood" while he was on the ground being hit; she could hear the victim "making bubbles" and trying to gasp for air; the defendant "smashed" the victim's cell phone and then "disappeared"; she did not see the victim hit the defendant; she never saw the victim approach the defendant; and the victim stood in the same place throughout the incident and did not follow the defendant to his truck.

         On cross-examination, Jameshia denied knowing that the victim carried a padlock for protection. She also denied seeing the victim with a padlock on the night of the incident.[3]

         Dewayne Watkins, a resident of the apartment complex on the night of the offense, [4] testified as follows: he heard a commotion in the parking lot of his apartment; he walked outside and saw the defendant and the victim;[5]the defendant went upstairs to his apartment and the victim was standing in the parking lot "with something in his hand"; the victim was "squaring up to" the defendant; the victim hit the defendant, then the defendant "ran and jumped" onto the bed of his truck; the victim was "going up behind" the defendant; the defendant jumped off the truck with a pole and began swinging it at the victim; the defendant struck the victim in the face with the pole and the victim fell to the ground; and he did not see the defendant continue to swing the pole after the victim fell.

         Initially, Watkins testified that he thought the victim was kicking and trying to get up. However, he later stated that the defendant hit the victim "two or three" times in the "arm and across his face" after he was on the ground. Watkins stated that he did not know how long the "beating" lasted. According to Watkins, the defendant "just stopped" and "took off somewhere."

         During his cross-examination, Watkins maintained that he saw the victim "throw the first blow," describing "quick movements." He also admitted that he is legally blind in one eye and that his "eyes are kind of bad." Nevertheless, Watkins testified that he saw a "shiny" object in the victim's hand when the victim hit the defendant. He stated that he attempted to keep the men from fighting, but he ultimately "backed off" because he did not want to get hit. When asked if he saw the victim follow the defendant to his truck, Watkins reiterated that the victim did so.

         Officer Carlos Glass-Bradley, of the Shreveport Police Department ("SPD"), testified as follows: he was a patrol officer working the graveyard shift on the night of the offense; he responded to the call and initially began pursuit of a red vehicle that had been broadcast as a possible suspect vehicle leaving the apartment complex; he went to the apartment complex after he learned that the vehicle he was pursuing was not involved in the incident; he saw a black male running between the buildings and began chasing the man on foot; during the chase, a citizen stopped him and directed him to where the victim was lying in the parking lot; he observed that the victim's head was "smashed in" and he had "thick blood" coming from his nose, ears and eyes; there was also "thick, almost brain matter" oozing from the victim's ears;[6] he and other law enforcement officers rolled the victim to his side because he appeared to be "drowning in his own blood"; while transporting a witness to the police station, he heard several radio dispatch messages indicating that the suspect had been taken into custody after he was seen climbing from a garbage dumpster; he observed the defendant in the back of a patrol car at the police station; the defendant did not appear to be injured or in need of medical attention; and the person he saw in the back of the police car was the same person he had been chasing earlier.

         Corporal Jason Allgrunn of the SPD was also working the graveyard shift on the night of the offense. He testified as follows: he responded to the call and "set up a perimeter" at the apartment complex; he transported the defendant to the police station; the defendant did not require assistance in walking; he observed "maybe a little spot of blood" on the defendant's left upper lip; after they arrived at the police station, the defendant stated that he had asthma and that he had been hit with a padlock; the defendant was transported to the hospital because he had stated that he had asthma; and the defendant denied needing medical attention after he arrived at the hospital.

         Officer Niakia Channell, a patrol officer with the SPD, also responded to the scene. She testified as follows: she observed blood and brain matter on the parking lot of the apartment complex; she initially thought the victim was deceased, but she could see "bubbles" in the blood; she got down on her knees and could hear the victim breathing; she went to University Health to assist the other police officers; she escorted the defendant into the building from another officer's patrol car; the defendant did not need assistance walking; and she did not observe any noticeable injuries on the defendant.

         Corporal Derrick Barker, another patrol officer for the SPD, also testified that he responded to the call and went to the scene. Cpl. Barker corroborated the testimony of other witnesses with regard to the victim's condition at the scene. Cpl. Barker further testified that he observed a "tiny drop of milky looking blood" on a step that he opined had "been spit" there. He also observed a "bright red" blood drop approximately 15 feet away ...


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