218 So.3d 535 (La. 2016), 2014-KA-1449, State v. McCoy
|Citation:||218 So.3d 535, 2014 1449 La. 10/19/16|
|Opinion Judge:||HUGHES, J.|
|Party Name:||STATE OF LOUISIANA v. ROBERT LEROY MCCOY|
|Attorney:||LOUISIANA CAPITAL ASSISTANCE CENTER, Meghan Shapiro, Richard John Bourke; For Appellant. BOSSIER PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Hon. John (Schuyler) Marvin, District Attorney, Robert Randall Smith, John Michael Lawrence, Michael Owens Craig, Edward Charles Jacobs; LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF JUST...|
|Judge Panel:||HUGHES, Justice. CRICHTON, Justice, additionally concurs and assigns reasons. Scott J. Crichton, Marcus R. Clark, Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John L. Weimer, Greg G. Guidry. CRICHTON, J., additionally concurs and assigns reasons.|
|Case Date:||October 19, 2016|
|Court:||Supreme Court of Louisiana|
Defendant Robert McCoy was indicted by grand jury on three counts of first degree murder for the murders of Willie Ray Young, Christine Colston Young, and Gregory Lee Colston. After a trial, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged on all three counts. The trial court sentenced the defendant to death, in accordance with the jury’s determination. Defendant appealed his convictions and... (see full summary)
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ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT FOR THE PARISH OF BOSSIER.
LOUISIANA CAPITAL ASSISTANCE CENTER, Meghan Shapiro, Richard John Bourke; For Appellant.
BOSSIER PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Hon. John (Schuyler) Marvin, District Attorney, Robert Randall Smith, John Michael Lawrence, Michael Owens Craig, Edward Charles Jacobs; LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Hon. Jeff Landry, Attorney General; Charles A. Smith; Robert Lane Pittard; For Appellee.
HUGHES, Justice. CRICHTON, Justice, additionally concurs and assigns reasons. Scott J. Crichton, Marcus R. Clark, Jeannette Theriot Knoll, John L. Weimer, Greg G. Guidry.
[2014 1449 La. 1] HUGHES, J.
This is a direct appeal under LSA-Const. Art. V, § 5(D)1 by the defendant, Robert LeRoy McCoy. The defendant was indicted by a Bossier Parish grand jury, on May 29, 2008, on three counts of first degree murder, for the murders of Willie Ray Young, Christine Colston Young, and Gregory Lee Colston, in violation of LSA-R.S. 14:30. After a trial, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged on all three counts. At the conclusion of the penalty phase of the trial, the jury unanimously returned a verdict of death on all three counts, finding the aggravating circumstance that the defendant knowingly created a risk of death or great bodily harm to more than one person. The trial court sentenced the defendant to death, in accordance with the jury's determination. The defendant now appeals his convictions and sentences, raising sixteen assignments of error. After a thorough review of the law and the evidence, we find no merit in any of the assignments of [2014 1449 La. 2] error. Therefore, we affirm the defendant's convictions and sentences.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Christine Colston Young and her husband, Willie Ray Young, were shot and killed at their home at 19 Grace Lane in Bossier City, Louisiana, on May 5, 2008; Christine's grandson, Gregory Lee Colston, was also shot and later died. Gregory had recently come to live with his grandparents so that he could finish his senior year at a local high school, after his mother, Yolanda Colston, had separated from the defendant earlier in the Spring of 2008 and following an incident of domestic abuse battery in April 2008.2 On advice of law enforcement, Yolanda and her infant daughter had gone into protective custody out-of-state, and a warrant was issued, on April 16, 2008, for the defendant's arrest for aggravated battery, by Detective Kevin Humphrey. In April and May, the defendant had evaded arrest under the warrant by failing to show up for work at his place of employment. The defendant had also traveled to Oakland, California, where his half-brother resided, but his cell phone records indicated that he returned to Bossier City on or about May 4, 2008, as calls were initiated from the defendant's cell phone in Bossier and Caddo Parishes on the day of, and the day after, the murders.
On the night of May 5, 2008 a 911 call was placed from 19 Grace Lane, in which
Christine Colston Young could be heard screaming, " She ain't here, Robert . . . I don't know where she is. The detectives have her. Talk to the detectives. She ain't in there, Robert." A gunshot was then heard on the 911 tape and the call was disconnected.
The Bossier City Police Department (" BCPD" ) broadcast that a disengaged 911 call came from 19 Grace Lane, which was heard by Detective Humphrey, who immediately recognized the address as the residence of Yolanda Colston's parents. [2014 1449 La. 3] However, Detective Humphrey was working a security detail at a local store, and so he notified the first responders, via police radio, that he had an arrest warrant for Robert McCoy, whose estranged wife's mother resided at 19 Grace Lane. Detective Humphrey cautioned the first responders to be on the lookout for a white four-door Kia, which he believed was driven by Robert McCoy.
Officer Kary Szyska responded that he was in the vicinity, approaching 19 Grace Lane, and that he saw a white Kia fleeing from the scene, which was recorded on the officer's dashboard video camera. Officer Szyska made a U-turn and gave chase On a dead-end street within a few blocks of the victims' home, the video showed a black male matching the defendant's general physical description jump out of the driver's side of the Kia, scale a nearby fence, and run across 1-20.
Meanwhile, Detective Humphrey called the victims' home and, receiving no answer, he drove there, arriving with other officers to find the front door ajar. Upon entering, the officers discovered fifty-five-year-old Christine Colston Young and fifty-year-old Willie Young, who was a cousin of the defendant, dead at the scene. Seventeen-year-old Gregory Colston was found gravely injured, but alive, and he was transported to the hospital, where he died a short time later. All three victims suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, fired from close range.
Since the abandoned Kia had a temporary license plate, the police ran the VIN (vehicle identification number) and found that it was registered to Robert and Yolanda McCoy. The police impounded the vehicle and searched the interior. There was a white cordless (landline) telephone on the driver's seat, and the charger/cradle for the cordless handset was found inside the victims' residence. The serial and model numbers on the handset found in the defendant's Kia matched that on charger/cradle found in the victims' home, confirming that the phone used by Christine Colston Young to call 911 was the phone found in the [2014 1449 La. 4] defendant's abandoned vehicle immediately after the murders.
Also found in the center console of the abandoned Kia was a Walmart bag with a box of .380 caliber ammunition. Inside the Walmart bag was a cash receipt from earlier that same day (at 16:55, or 4:55 p.m., on May 5, 2008), for the purchase of the ammunition. The police obtained video surveillance footage from Walmart, generated at the time of the purchase on the receipt, which showed an individual matching the defendant's physical description purchasing ammunition while wearing a black " do-rag" on this head.3
A manhunt began for the defendant involving the BCPD, the U.S. Marshall's Office, and the FBI. The police began with
the defendant's cell phone records.4 They noticed he had been repeatedly calling a number in Oakland, California. Detective Humphrey testified that the last ping on the cell phone being used by the defendant occurred in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and then the phone went dead. At that point, the police subpoenaed the phone records for the Oakland number the defendant had been calling, and as soon as the defendant's phone was no longer being used, an Arkansas cell phone began calling the Oakland number. The police called the Arkansas cell phone number and a truck driver answered.5 The police asked the truck driver if a black male named Robert was riding in the eighteen-wheeler with him. The driver replied, " [H]e was, but he's not now," [2014 1449 La. 5] relating that Robert had gotten into another eighteen-wheeler, which had been directly behind him at a weigh station in Spokane, Washington. The Arkansas truck driver told the police that he had picked Robert up in East Texas,6 and Robert had borrowed his cell phone to make some calls after the battery went dead on his phone. The Arkansas truck driver disclosed that he and the second truck driver, with whom the defendant thereafter hitched a ride, had been issued tickets at the Spokane weigh station. The police contacted the weigh station and learned that the truck the defendant was traveling in was a Swift Transportation eighteen-wheeler. The police contacted Swift Transportation and learned that the eighteen-wheeler in which the defendant was traveling was bound for Oakland, California. Through GPS tracking, they located the Swift truck in Lewiston, Idaho, where it was making a warehouse pick-up.
The BCPD communicated to the Lewiston Police Department (" LPD" ) that a murder suspect was a passenger in a Swift eighteen-wheeler in their jurisdiction and gave the location. On May 9, 2008 the LPD stopped the eighteen-wheeler in Lewiston, Idaho, and they arrested the defendant.7 The defendant and the truck driver were the only occupants of the eighteen-wheeler, and the driver was not suspected of, or charged with, any crimes. The police searched the eighteen-wheeler, and found
a loaded, silver handgun on the floorboard behind the passenger seat where the defendant had been seated. The weapon was not in a [2014 1449 La. 6] holster or bag, and the safety was not on.8 The truck driver denied having a gun or any knowledge of a gun being in his truck. The LPD also seized from the defendant a cell phone and his wallet, which contained a pay stub, a birth certificate, a social security card, identification cards, insurance cards, and credit cards, all in the name of Robert McCoy, though the defendant had given the name of " Vance McCoy."
On May 12, 2008, while awaiting extradition to Louisiana, the defendant unsuccessfully tried to hang himself with a bed sheet. The defendant was returned to Louisiana on May 14, 2008.
On May 15, 2008 the defendant appeared, by video, at a 72-hour hearing, and the court appointed the Indigent Defender Board to represent him. On May 29, 2008 a Bossier Parish grand jury...
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