State v. Roberts, No. 56090

CourtSupreme Court of Louisiana
Writing for the CourtCALOGERO; BARHAM; DIXON, J., dissents for the reason expressed by BARHAM
Citation319 So.2d 317
Decision Date05 September 1975
Docket NumberNo. 56090
PartiesSTATE of Louisiana, Appellee, v. Stanislaus ROBERTS, Appellant.

Page 317

319 So.2d 317
STATE of Louisiana, Appellee,
v.
Stanislaus ROBERTS, Appellant.
No. 56090.
Supreme Court of Louisiana.
Sept. 5, 1975.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 9, 1975.

Page 318

Jack W. Caskey, James E. Williams, Lake Charles, for defendant-appellant.

William J. Guste, Jr., Atty. Gen., Barbara Rutledge, Asst. Atty. Gen., Frank T. Salter, Jr., Dist. Atty., James L. Babin, Asst. Dist. Atty., for plaintiff-appellee.

CALOGERO, Justice.

Richard G. Lower, an attendant of a gas station, was shot and killed during an armed robbery. Defendant Stanislaus Roberts was indicted for first degree murder. The armed robbery is alleged to have been perpetrated by defendant Roberts and one Calvin Arceneaux. After a trial by jury, Roberts was found guilty as charged and sentenced to death. Defendant appeals his conviction relying upon five assignments of error.

Page 319

Assignment of Error No. 1.

Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a new trial based upon the allegation that the state had failed to prove one of the elements of the crime.

Defendant was charged with first degree murder under R.S. 14:30(1) which provides in part that:

First degree murder is the killing of a human being:

(1) When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and is engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape or armed robbery;

Whoever commits the crime of first degree murder shall be punished by death.

It is alleged that defendant was engaged in the perpetration of an armed robbery which is defined by R.S. 14:64:

Armed robbery is the theft of anything of value from the person of another or which is in the immediate control of another, by use of force or intimidation, while armed with a dangerous weapon.

Defendant argues that the state did not prove that the items taken from the gas station had any value or, alternatively, that the state did not prove that the items were taken from the immediate control of the victim Richard Lowe.

Richard Lowe was the night attendant at the gas station and was in sole charge of the station at the time of the incident. That which was taken from the premises was certainly taken from his control. State v. Refuge, 300 So.2d 489 (La.1974).

The record shows that the perpetrators of the crime entered the premises unarmed. However, they removed a .38 Colt revolver from a desk drawer and armed themselves with it. This gun was used to threaten, and finally to kill, the attendant. It was the weapon employed by Roberts to facilitate theft of a second pistol and two empty moneybags. Its brandishment also contributed to the successful removal from the premises of the very same .38 Colt revolver and several gallons of gasoline or its monetary equivalent, three dollars.1 When the perpetrators departed the premises, they took with them the two guns and the two moneybags from the station office and the three dollars which they had received for the gas.

The .38 Colt revolver was introduced into evidence; the original owner of the gun testified that he had sold the gun to the owner of the station, but he did not specify the sale price. The other gun and the moneybags, however, were not introduced into evidence. (Presumably they were never recovered.) The state made no independent tender of proof relating to the monetary value of the guns or the bags. At issue here, then, is whether the state is required to put on affirmative proof of the value of the thing taken in order to satisfy R.S. 15:271 which requires that '(t)he plea of not guilty throws upon the state the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime necessary to constitute the defendant's guilt.' State v. Brown, 301 So.2d 605 (La.1974).

The phrase 'anything of value' is defined very broadly by statute in Louisiana:

'Anyting of value' must be given the broadest possible construction, including any conceivable thing of the slightest value, movable or immovable, corporeal or incorporeal, public or private, and including transportation, telephone and telegraph services, or any other service

Page 320

available for hire. It must be construed in the broad popular sense of the phrase, and not necessarily as synonymous with the traditional legal term 'property.' R.S. 14:2(2).

Certainly there is no question that the items taken here (an operable Colt police .38 caliber revolver which defendant used to kill the gas station attendant, another pistol, and two moneybags) would constitute something of value, certainly if 'anything of value' is to be given 'the broadest possible construction, including any conceivable thing of the slightest value.'

However, we need not resolve the question of whether independent proof need be made of the specific value of the two guns and two empty moneybags inasmuch as the monetary equivalent of the gas taken is conclusively shown to have been three dollars, the amount which Arceneaux got for the gas from the startled customer.

This assignment of error lacks merit.

Assignment of Error No. 2.

Defendant assigns as error the trial judge's decision to allow the state to amend the indictment on the day of the trial. The pre-amendment indictment charged the defendant with the murder of Richard G. Lowe while defendant was engaged in an armed robbery. The state was allowed to amend the indictment2 so that it would state that the same Richard G. Lowe was the person robbed as well as the person murdered. The amendment was granted, over counsel's objection, after court had convened on the first day of the trial but before the trial had commenced.3 Defendant moved for a continuance alleging that defendant was properly informed of the nature of the accusation against him only moments before the trial began and that he should be granted a continuance to afford him time to alter or supplement his defense.

Before a trial begins, the trial judge may order an indictment amended C.Cr.P. Art. 487. So long as the amendment merely clarifies the crime charged and does not add a new crime, the amendment is proper. State v. Bluain, 315 So.2d 749, decided on June 23, 1975; State v. Royal, 255 La. 651, 232 So.2d 465 (1970). The fact that such a clarification has been made does not necessarily prejudice the defendant. If, however, the defendant can show that he has been prejudiced in his defense on the...

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13 practice notes
  • Roberts v. Louisiana 30 31, 1976, No. 75-5844
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 2, 1976
    ...Held: The judgment is reversed insofar as it upheld the death sentence, and the case is remanded. Pp. 331-336; 336; 336-337. La., 319 So.2d 317, reversed and remanded. Mr. Justice STEWART, Mr. Justice POWELL, and Mr. Justice STEVENS concluded that: 1. The imposition of the death penalty is ......
  • Rockwell v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 7, 1976
    ...(1976) --- U.S. ---, 96 S.Ct. 3218, 49 L.Ed.2d 1215 with State v. Woodson (1975) 287 N.C. 578, 215 S.E.2d 607; State v. Roberts (La.1975) 319 So.2d 317; and Williams v. State (Okl.Cr.1975) 542 P.2d California was one of the states which relied to its detriment on the apparent significance o......
  • State v. Goodeaux, KA 17–441
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • November 2, 2017
    ...not substantively amend a bill of information to charge a new offense once trial has begun. La.C.Cr.P. art. 487 ; Cf., State v. Roberts , 319 So.2d 317, 320 (La.1975), rev'd on other grounds, 428 U.S. 325, 96 S.Ct. 3001, 49 L.Ed.2d 974 (1976), on remand, 340 So.2d 263 ; State v. Bluain , 31......
  • James v. Cain, No. 93-3773
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 20, 1995
    ...of first degree murder. In September, 1975, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1973 Law. State v. Roberts, 319 So.2d 317 (La.1975), rev'd sub nom. Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 325, 96 S.Ct. 3001, 49 L.Ed.2d 974 (1976). In October, 1975, Petitioner James commit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Roberts v. Louisiana 30 31, 1976, No. 75-5844
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • July 2, 1976
    ...Held: The judgment is reversed insofar as it upheld the death sentence, and the case is remanded. Pp. 331-336; 336; 336-337. La., 319 So.2d 317, reversed and remanded. Mr. Justice STEWART, Mr. Justice POWELL, and Mr. Justice STEVENS concluded that: 1. The imposition of the death penalty is ......
  • Rockwell v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 7, 1976
    ...(1976) --- U.S. ---, 96 S.Ct. 3218, 49 L.Ed.2d 1215 with State v. Woodson (1975) 287 N.C. 578, 215 S.E.2d 607; State v. Roberts (La.1975) 319 So.2d 317; and Williams v. State (Okl.Cr.1975) 542 P.2d California was one of the states which relied to its detriment on the apparent significance o......
  • State v. Goodeaux, KA 17–441
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • November 2, 2017
    ...not substantively amend a bill of information to charge a new offense once trial has begun. La.C.Cr.P. art. 487 ; Cf., State v. Roberts , 319 So.2d 317, 320 (La.1975), rev'd on other grounds, 428 U.S. 325, 96 S.Ct. 3001, 49 L.Ed.2d 974 (1976), on remand, 340 So.2d 263 ; State v. Bluain , 31......
  • James v. Cain, No. 93-3773
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 20, 1995
    ...of first degree murder. In September, 1975, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1973 Law. State v. Roberts, 319 So.2d 317 (La.1975), rev'd sub nom. Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 325, 96 S.Ct. 3001, 49 L.Ed.2d 974 (1976). In October, 1975, Petitioner James commit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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