State v. Wiltz, 19-480

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Writing for the CourtELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE
PartiesSTATE OF LOUISIANA v. RAVEN LAMAR WILTZ
Decision Date30 December 2019
Docket Number19-480

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
RAVEN LAMAR WILTZ

19-480

STATE OF LOUISIANA COURT OF APPEAL, THIRD CIRCUIT

December 30, 2019


NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION

APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. CR 158064-2
HONORABLE JOHN DAMIAN TRAHAN, DISTRICT JUDGE

ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE

Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.

CONVICTION AFFIRMED. SENTENCE AFFIRMED AS AMENDED. REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

Carey J. Ellis, III
Louisiana Appellate Project
P O Box 719
Rayville, LA 71269
(318) 728-2043
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT:
Raven Lamar Wiltz

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Keith A. Stutes
Fifteenth JDC District Attorney
Daniel M. Landry, III
Assistant District Attorney
P. O. Box 3306
Lafayette, LA 70502-3306
(337) 232-5170
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE:
State of Louisiana

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PICKETT, Judge.

FACTS

On July 6, 2016, two males shot and killed the victim, Desmond Boutte. The males fled the scene on foot. An eyewitness told police that the defendant, Raven Lamar Wiltz, was one of the shooters. Within thirty minutes of the shooting, both the the defendant and Jamal Lacon were apprehended in a nearby area and arrested for murder. Clothing that matched the description of one of the shooters as well as the guns used in the shooting were found in the area within which the defendant and Lacon were apprehended.

On August 17, 2016, the defendant and co-defendant, Jamal Christopher Lacon, were charged by grand jury indictment with one count of second degree murder, a violation of La.R.S. 14:30.1. A jury trial of both men began on February 25, 2019, and ended on February 28, 2019, with both the defendant and Lacon being convicted of second degree murder. On March 14, 2019, the defendant, was sentenced to life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

On April 12, 2019, the defendant filed a motion for appeal, which was granted on April 17, 2019. The defendant alleges three assignments of error - one involving the sufficiency of the evidence, one involving the trial court's failure to dismiss two jury panels, and one involving the late disclosure of evidence.

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

1. The State failed to present sufficient evidence to support the verdict, a conviction of second degree murder.

2. In this case the right to a fair trial by an impartial jury was not upheld. The Trial Court violated this right by refusing Defense Counsel's request to dismiss two of the jury panels.

3. Mr. Wiltz's right to full disclosure of evidence presented against him was violated.

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ERRORS PATENT

In accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are reviewed by this court for errors patent on the face of the record. After reviewing the record, we find there is one error patent regarding the sentence imposed.

The trial court failed to impose the sentence at hard labor even though a sentence for second degree murder must be imposed at hard labor. La.R.S. 14:30.1. Thus, the sentence is illegally lenient. State v. Williams, 16-579 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/15/17), 216 S0.3d 107. We hereby amend the sentence to order that it be served at hard labor and order the trial court make a minute entry reflecting the amendment.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE

The defendant contends the evidence was insufficient to prove he committed the murder of the victim in this case.

The standard of review in a case of identification is well-established:

"In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction, an appellate court in Louisiana is controlled by the standard enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). . . . [T]he appellate court must determine that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, was sufficient to convince a rational trier of fact that all of the elements of the crime had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Captville, 448 So.2d 676, 678 (La.1984). Furthermore, when the key issue is the defendant's identity as the perpetrator, rather than whether the crime was committed, the State is required to negate any reasonable probability of misidentification. State v. Weary, 03-3067 (La. 4/24/06), 931 So.2d 297; State v. Neal, 00-0674 (La. 6/29/01), 796 So.2d 649. Positive identification by only one witness is sufficient to support a conviction. Weary, 03-3067 at p. 18, 931 So.2d at 311; Neal, 00-0674 at p. 11, 796 So.2d at 658; State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d 1305, 1311 (La.1988). It is the factfinder who weighs the respective credibilities of the witnesses, and this court will generally not second-guess those determinations. State v. Bright, 98-0398, p. 22 (La. 4/11/00), 776 So.2d 1134, 1147.

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State v. Hughes, 05-992, pp. 5-6 (La. 11/29/06), 943 So.2d 1047, 1051 (alteration in original).

The first witness to testify at trial was Chelsey Anderson. Around 6:00 p.m. on the day at issue, Ms. Anderson drove her friend, Kelsea Bonner, to the Martin Luther King Center (Center) so that Ms. Bonner could get her car. According to Ms. Anderson, Ms. Bonner's boyfriend, Keelan, was at the Center playing basketball with his friend, Desmond. When Ms. Anderson pulled up, Desmond and Keelan walked up to her vehicle. According to Ms. Anderson, Desmond sat in the back of the car, and Keelan leaned over on the passenger-side window. While Desmond and Keelan were talking with Ms. Anderson and Ms. Bonner, two "boys" walked up from the side of the building and started shooting. Ms. Anderson described the "boys" as black and as being regular height. One of the boys, Ms. Anderson testified, had "dreads." Ms. Anderson testified that one of the individuals started shooting first and then the other individual started shooting. Ms. Anderson stated that she never looked into the faces of the shooters. When asked if she remembered what the shooters were wearing, Ms. Anderson replied, "They both had on like white shirts and red. I seen one of them have on a red cap, but that's it."

The call Ms. Anderson made to 911 was played for the jury and introduced as State's Exhibit 3. The caller reported a shooting at the Center. The caller also stated that the shooters had taken off running. In the recording, the caller described one of the shooters as having a black rag around his head and as wearing black shorts. When asked if there were one or two shooters, the caller stated there were two shooters, and both of them shot. The caller also mentioned one of the shooters was wearing a white shirt. Although something was described as "red," it is difficult to decipher what the caller said was "red."

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At trial, Ms. Anderson agreed that when she was talking to the 911 operator, she identified one of the shooters as wearing a red cap and one as having "dreads." The following colloquy took place regarding a photograph marked by the state for identification purposes:

Q. Ms. Anderson, I have marked for identification purposes only a photograph of two individuals. Does that look like what the individuals you observed were wearing?

A. It could be, yes.

Q. Okay. I mean, we've got the black pants, white shirt, and we've got the individual with the hat. Is that what you observed?

A. Yes.

Ms. Anderson agreed that she told police she did not want to identify the two individuals and did not want to testify. When asked why she did not want to testify, Ms. Anderson replied:

A. Because Desmond momma buried him, and then next it would be my momma burying me, and then what?

Q. So you were scared?

A. Yes.

Q. And in fact, we had to bring you here the first time this matter was set for trial, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And that's because you didn't show up because you were scared?

A. Yes.

Q. And as we sit here today you still don't want to testify?

A. Correct.

On cross-examination, Ms. Anderson agreed that she was arrested by the United States Marshals in Texas and extradited to Louisiana to testify. When

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asked if she felt pressure from the state to put "Raven's" name into this case, Ms. Anderson replied:

A. I mean, pressured because they subpoenaed me to. I stayed in jail for eight days to testify. But not pressure like making me say this and making me say that. I don't know him.

Q. Right.

A. I don't know him from nobody except that day. That was my first time ever, and I don't even - - You know, I just gave a description of them. I never said his name, not even to Mr. Landry, no.

Ms. Anderson agreed that after the shooting, she was asked to look at a photo lineup but failed to identify either the defendant or Lacon. On re-direct, the following colloquy took place regarding the photo lineup:

Q. Okay. So let me ask you about these lineups. I questioned you about these lineups when you were brought here the first time, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. And you actually did circle a number indicating a suspect, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Okay. And you actually circled two different ones, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Those aren't the shooters that you saw that you circled, correct?

A. I circled what I saw what resembled - - Again, I don't - -

Q. Okay. But I thought your testimony was you just circled it because you didn't want to even be there and talking to police.

A. Correct. Yeah, correct, so I circled whatever I saw that resembled them. I didn't even look.

Kelsea Bonner testified that Ms. Anderson drove her to the Center on the night in question. Ms. Bonner's boyfriend, Keelan, was playing basketball at the Center with Desmond Boutte. When Ms. Bonner and Ms. Anderson drove up,

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both Desmond and Keelan walked up to the car and talked to the women. Ms. Bonner testified that she saw "some guys come out a alley." Ms. Bonner described the guys as "black," but did not offer any description as to the clothes they were wearing. Ms. Bonner saw both individuals with guns in their possession as they were approaching. Although Desmond tried to get away, shots were fired, and Desmond fell. Ms. Bonner did not remember if the shots were fired at the same time or separately....

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