State v. Lawrence, 62550

Citation365 So.2d 1356
Decision Date15 December 1978
Docket NumberNo. 62550,62550
PartiesSTATE of Louisiana v. David Hill LAWRENCE.
CourtSupreme Court of Louisiana

Henry H. Lemoine, Jr., Wilbert J. Saucier, Jr., Lemoine & Saucier, Pineville, for defendant-appellant.

William J. Guste, Jr., Atty. Gen., Barbara Rutledge, Asst. Atty. Gen., William C. Pegues, III, Dist. Atty., William E. Tilley, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Edwin L. Cabra, Asst. Dist. Atty., for plaintiff-appellee.

SANDERS, Chief Justice.

The Grand Jury of Vernon Parish indicted the defendant, David Hill Lawrence, for second degree murder, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:30.1. He was tried by jury and found guilty as charged. The trial judge sentenced him to life imprisonment, without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence for forty years. The defense preserved twelve assignments of error, eight of which defendant relies upon for reversal of his conviction and sentence.

The State's theory of the case is that Lawrence and his wife were involved in an altercation at their residence. During the altercation, he repeatedly struck his wife's head against the floor. The wife died of the injuries received.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR NOS. 1 AND 2

In these assignments of error, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash the indictment. This Court granted supervisory writs to review the trial court's ruling on the motion to quash. State v. Lawrence, La., 345 So.2d 54 (1977). After reviewing the issues, we affirmed the trial court's ruling. Hence, these assignments are without merit. State v. Lawrence, La., 351 So.2d 493 (1977).

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR NOS. 3 AND 4

During the direct examination of Detective James Hagan, the prosecutor questioned the witness concerning the defendant's refusal to give any statement to the police without the presence of his attorney and defendant's refusal to sign a waiver of rights form. At trial, defense did object to these questions. He argued that the question relating to the defendant's refusal to give a statement without the presence of his attorney called for hearsay. When the prosecutor asked questions concerning the waiver of rights form, the defense requested the trial judge to give an admonition to the jury. The trial judge granted the request. 1

The defense never objected at trial that the questions constituted prejudicial remarks concerning the exercise of defendant's right to remain silent. Nor did the defense request a mistrial. The only action requested by defendant was granted.

These assignments are without merit.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 5

In this assignment of error, the defendant complains of the admission by the trial judge of a telephone conversation between the defendant and Sergeant John Mahoney. Sergeant Mahoney had been to defendant's residence, where he found defendant's wife injured.

Sergeant Mahoney testified, over objection, that the following morning the defendant telephoned him and told him that he thought his wife was dead. The trial judge admitted the testimony, ruling that conversation was part of the res gestae. Because of the lapse of time and the absence of a showing that the statement was uttered "under the immediate pressure of the occurrence," we agree with defense counsel that it was not part of the res gestae. See LSA-R.S. 15:447, 448. As the prosecutor contended in the trial court, however, we are of the view that the statement was admissible as a declaration against penal interest. See State v. Gilmore, La., 332 So.2d 789 (1976) and the authorities cited.

On this basis, we conclude that the assignment of error is without merit.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 8

The defendant contends that the trial court erroneously overruled his objection to the prosecutor's questions concerning the defendant's failure to make statements to law enforcement officers and to testify before the Grand Jury. An examination of the record fails to disclose an overruled objection on these grounds.

Initially, during the State's cross-examination of the defendant, the defense raised this objection:

"He's (the prosecutor) not asking a question, they have, the State has not asked any questions to the defendant prior to this day and if the State is willing to pinpoint which question they are talking about, which time they attempted to question Mr. Lawrence."

After clarification, the defense acquiesced in this line of questioning. 2 Subsequently, the defense objected to a question posed by the prosecutor. The trial court sustained the objection, and the defense requested no further action.

We conclude that there is no merit in this assignment of error.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 9

The defendant argues that the trial court erred in allowing Detective James Hagan to testify on the State's rebuttal. During the State's presentation of its case, Hagan inadvertently violated the court's sequestration rule. He was present in the trial judge's chambers when the testimony of a witness, John Mahoney, was allegedly discussed. The trial court ruled that the State could not recall Hagan during the State's presentation of its case.

During the rebuttal, Hagan was called as a witness. The defense objected, contending that Hagan had violated the sequestration order and thus was precluded from testifying. The trial court noted that the violation of the order was not the witness's fault. Exercising its discretion under Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 764, the court allowed Hagan to testify but ruled he could not testify to anything related to Mahoney's testimony.

Sequestration is designed to prevent the influencing of witnesses by the testimony of prior witnesses and to strengthen...

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9 cases
  • State v. Chapman
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court
    • September 8, 1981
    ... ... State v. Drew, 360 So.2d 500, 518-19 (La.1978)" State v. Andrews, 369 So.2d 1049, 1050-51 (La.1979) ...         In State v. Lawrence, 365 So.2d 1356, 1358 (La.1978), the Court pointed out that: ...         "The lack of skill as a draftsman and the inaccuracies of the drawing go to the weight to be accorded to the sketch but do not defeat its admissibility." ... Page 698 ...         Similarly, in this case, ... ...
  • State v. Video Joe, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • March 28, 1991
    ...and the inaccuracies of the diagram go to the weight to be accorded to the sketch but do not defeat its admissibility. State v. Lawrence, 365 So.2d 1356 (La.1978), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 846, 100 S.Ct. 93, 62 L.Ed.2d 60 (1979). Defendants had the opportunity, on cross-examination of Det. Cr......
  • State v. Pleasant
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • May 28, 1986
    ...the opportunity, on cross-examination of Detective Robert, to point out to the jury any inaccuracies in the diagram. See State v. Lawrence, 365 So.2d 1356 (La.1978), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 846, 100 S.Ct. 93, 62 L.Ed.2d 60 The trial court's ruling on the admissibility of a diagram will not b......
  • 31-390 La.App. 2 Cir. 3/31/99, State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • March 31, 1999
    ...denied, 494 U.S. 1074, 110 S.Ct. 1796, 108 L.Ed.2d 798 (1990); State v. Fluitt, 482 So.2d 906 (La.App. 2d Cir.1986). In State v. Lawrence, 365 So.2d 1356 (La.1978), the supreme court stated that the inaccuracies of a drawing do not defeat the admissibility of a sketch, but go to the weight ......
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