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State v. Combs

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 15, 2020

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
DANA COMBS Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 346, 592 Honorable Ramona Emanuel, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Douglas Lee Harville Counsel for Appellant

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

          JOSHUA K. WILLIAMS CHARLES K. PARR Assistant District Attorneys

          Before MOORE, PITMAN, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          MOORE, J.

         The defendant, Dana Combs, was charged by bill of information with attempted second degree murder and possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, having previously been convicted of simple robbery. After the preliminary examination where the court found no probable cause for the attempted second degree murder charge, the state amended the bill of information to charge only possession of a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, in violation of La. R.S. 14:95.1. A jury unanimously convicted Combs as charged. The trial court sentenced Combs to 10 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, and ordered the sentence to be served consecutively with any other sentence. Combs's motion to reconsider sentence was denied. Combs now appeals, urging that the trial court erred by imposing a harsh and excessive sentence.

         FACTS

         On January 29, 2017, Corporal Jesse Alexander of the Shreveport Police Department responded to a reported shooting at the La Tierra Apartments located at 6121 Tierra Drive in Shreveport. When he arrived at the complex, Cpl. Alexander found Jaldell Riley lying in the parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds to his leg and back.

         The victim, Riley, testified at trial that he and Combs got into a verbal altercation, and Riley asked Combs if he wanted to fight. Combs declined, saying that Riley was too big. Combs left the scene and returned. Combs's mother stepped in between Combs and Riley to break it up. Combs then pulled out a gun. Riley ran and Combs began shooting. Riley was hit and fell to the ground. When Riley looked up, he saw Combs standing with a gun in his hand. Riley testified that he did not have a weapon, say he had a weapon, or make any movements to suggest that he had a weapon.

         Riley did not live in the La Tierra Apartments, and denied that he had followed Combs to a store on the day in question. He also denied that he threatened Combs by telling him, "this is my area," "these are my bricks," and "you better have your gun." He admitted that he is a convicted felon and was incarcerated at the time of trial.

         Detective Logan McDonald of the Shreveport Police Department's homicide unit also responded to the shooting. He identified evidence from the crime scene at trial, and testified regarding video surveillance footage of the incident that he viewed. He said he observed Combs walk toward the victim, Riley, who was wearing a red jacket, exchange words with him, make hand gestures, and then Combs began shooting at Riley, chasing him around a vehicle while continuously firing. Det. McDonald testified that Combs's mother, Felecia Alexander, attempted to intervene.

         The jury unanimously convicted Combs as charged.

         Prior to sentencing, defense counsel made three filings seeking to raise certain mitigating circumstances for the court's consideration when imposing sentence. In the first, styled "Defendant's Statement on Sentencing," counsel asked the court to consider that Combs was only 21 years old and had only one prior felony conviction, for simple robbery. The victim, Riley, was older, taller, and heavier than Combs, and he had bullied and threatened him, thereby provoking him to the point that his actions were justified. Additionally, Combs's mother received so many ...


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