Robert Howard Cooley was indicted for murder by the Vernon Parish Grand Jury for the October 23, 1969 slaying of Carl Proegler, a United States Army sergeant stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The deceased
Bill of Exceptions No. 1 was reserved to the trial court's refusal to sustain a motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict returned by the jury finding the defendant guilty of manslaughter on an indictment for murder was a compromise, pure and simple, there not being one scintilla of evidence to show that the defendant was guilty of manslaughter. That is, he contends that the record in the case is devoid of any evidence tending to show that the deceased did anything to the defendant that would have produced sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of self control and cool reflection.
There is no merit to this bill. As stated by this court in State v. Vial, 153 La. 883, 894, 96 So. 796, 800:
Our legislature has seen fit to make the crime of manslaughter responsive to the charge of murder. C.Cr.P. art. 814. It has historically been so. Under R.S. 1870, § 785, manslaughter was made a lesser included offense to the charge of murder.
Today, under our peculiar set of statutes, a person can plead guilty to the crime of attempted murder under an indictment for murder, provided such is agreeable to the district attorney, (C.Cr.P. art. 487(B)), even though attempted murder is not a responsive verdict to murder under C.Cr.P. art. 814. Prior to the enactment of C.Cr.P. art. 487 (as amended), one could still plead guilty to the lesser offense of attempt under R.S. 14:27 although not a responsive verdict. R.S. 14:27 in pertinent part provides:
If there is sufficient evidence in the record to support a conviction for a greater offense (which includes the one for which the defendant is convicted), the evidence necessarily and automatically will support a conviction of the lesser offense which has been made responsive by legislative action.
Bill of Exceptions No. 2 was reserved to the trial court's failure to maintain a motion to suppress a certain 12 gauge shotgun which was allegedly seized illegally by the Vernon Parish sheriff's deputies. The shotgun was introduced in evidence at the trial. The trial judge in his per curiam to the bill stated that he thought that the defendant's wife had acquiesced in the actions of Deputy Joe Parker when he took the gun into his possession and that such amounted to consent.
The arrest of the defendant at his home was lawful. At the time of the arrest, the officers observed a shotgun in the corner of one of the rooms. One officer picked up the gun and smelled it. He testified that it smelled as though it had been recently fired. However, they were under the impression at that time that the crime had been committed with a rifle and for that reason did not take the shotgun with them when they took the defendant to jail. Shortly after the defendant was taken to jail, the officers were advised that the decedent had been killed by a shotgun blast to the abdomen.
Deputy Joe Parker returned to the defendant's home. Mrs. Cooley answered the door. Deputy Parker told her how sorry he was about everything and asked where the gun was. Mrs. Cooley told him and he picked it up and left with it.
In examining the record before us, we find that the defendant never contends that his wife did not consent to the seizure of the shotgun. The closest that defendant ever comes to contending that there was no consent is in his brief addressed to this court when he says: "He [Joe Parker] never requested permission of Mrs. Cooley to search for the weapon, never explained her constitutional right to demand that he get a search warrant to search the premises but just went in, got the shot gun and shell that had been in the gun earlier, and left on his return trip to the sheriff's office in Leesville."
Defendant cites State v. James, 246 La. 1033, 169 So.2d 89, rev'd James v. Louisiana, 382 U.S. 36, 86 S.Ct. 151, 15 L.Ed.2d 30, and State v. Wells, 253 La. 925, 221 So.2d 50, for the proposition that the seized evidence was inadmissible because the seizures were illegal. We find that the two cases are not applicable.
In James, the seizure was made at James' residence which was two blocks in distance
In Wells, a search and seizure was made by the police upon a search warrant that issued without a showing of probable cause. The court accordingly reversed.
Neither is Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483, 84 S.Ct. 889, 11 L.Ed.2d 856 applicable. The United States Supreme Court there held that a hotel clerk could not consent to a search of a hotel room because the clerk had no authority to authorize the search and because a hotel room is constitutionally protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564, is not inapposite.
In State v. Comeaux, 252 La. 481, 494, 211 So.2d 620, 624, this court said:
As the Supreme Court of Iowa said in the case of State v. Shephard, 255 Ia. 1218, 124 N.W.2d 712, 717:
We hold, therefore, that under the facts presented in this case, the actions of defendant's wife constituted consent to the seizure by Deputy Parker of the shotgun. There is no merit to Bill of Exceptions No. 2.
The conviction and sentence are affirmed.
BARHAM, Justice (dissenting).
I cannot agree with the majority's disposition of Bill of Exceptions No. 2, reserved to the refusal of the trial court to grant a motion to suppress as evidence a 12-guage shotgun alleged to have been unconstitutionally seized. The seizure was made without a search warrant. At the hearing on the motion to suppress only two witnesses testified, the wife and the brother of the defendant, who were called by the defendant. The State presented no evidence. The wife stated that police officers came to their home, questioned her husband, and took him away with them. The following is all of her testimony about the return of one of the officers and his seizure of the gun:
After defendant was taken into custody, the officers stopped at the home of defendant's brother so he could accompany defendant. The brother testified that at that time the officers did not have the shotgun, and that he overheard the officers saying they had not taken defendant's gun because the victim had been shot with a rifle. He further testified that later one of the officers came into the sheriff's office with defendant's shotgun.
This evidence does not support the holding of the majority that "under the facts presented in this case, the actions of defendant's wife constituted consent to the seizure by Deputy Parker of the shotgun". When consent is asserted as the basis for a search and seizure in lieu of a search warrant, the burden of proof rests with the prosecutor to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the consent was in
When the burden of proof shifted to the prosecutor at the hearing on the motion to suppress after it was acknowledged that there was no search warrant, he was required to present competent evidence to show that the wife had consented to the taking of the shotgun. Yet the State offered no evidence in support of its position.
It is apparent from the testimony offered by the defense that when the officer returned to defendant's home, he knew of the evidence he wished to seize and knew that it was in defendant's home, and that he reentered the house for the purpose of seizing that evidence, the shotgun. He had made no attempt to secure a search warrant, nor did he obtain the consent of either the defendant or the defendant's wife. In fact, not the slightest hint of a request for permission to either search or seize can be gleaned from the previously quoted testimony. See State v. Andrus, supra.
It must be said for the officer that his conduct toward the defendant's wife was not harsh or abusive, and from her testimony he was sympathetic. This, however, does not make his conduct in effecting the seizure constitutional. Here the wife volunteered no information about the evidence, and did not voluntarily produce and deliver any of the evidence. Her testimony that she had the shotgun shell in her pocket during the conversation of almost 10 minutes and gave it to the officer only upon inquiry is indicative of an intent not to volunteer any evidence. Indeed, it suggests she wished to suppress the evidence.
In Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564, the court held evidence to be admissible in a criminal prosecution not under a constitutional search and seizure but under a finding of fact that in a spirit of cooperation, in a hope of being helpful to her absent spouse, the wife had given the evidence to the police. The determination of Coolidge v. New Hampshire is inapposite, but the court's reasoning in reaching that determination differentiates the facts there from those of the present case, and is dispositive of this case. See the court's discussion in Part III(B). Here we do not have the cooperative wife with the motive of "clearing her husband" and with a belief "that she had nothing to hide". The conduct in this case is not "a spontaneous, good-faith effort by his wife to clear him of suspicion".
It was said in Coolidge: "* * * There is not the slightest implication of an attempt on their part to coerce or dominate her, or, for that matter, to direct her actions by the more subtle techniques of suggestion that are available to officials in circumstances like these." Under the best appraisal of the officer's conduct here, his manner was certainly more than merely suggestive in securing the evidence, and certainly under the circumstances he dominated the situation. My finding that the evidence suggests that the wife intended to conceal and suppress the evidence and delivered it only when she felt she had no alternative will not permit a conclusion that she consented to the seizure. Under this conclusion the officer's actions constitute "unconstitutional police conduct", and the fruits of those actions should have been suppressed.
It is difficult to pen a dissent in a case such as this. In this criminal case where we are seeking truth in order to mete out justice to one who has violated a basic minimal standard of conduct, certainly truth would be better served if the evidence is considered. But the United States Supreme Court has established now through a long line of cases beginning with Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L. Ed.2d 1081 (1961), that the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
The only searches and seizures made without search warrant which are considered "reasonable" are those made incident to a lawful arrest, those made under exigent circumstances or in hot pursuit, or those made with voluntary and knowing consent or waiver. No other searches and seizures are held to be reasonable no matter how practical the result may appear. Unless some other sanction is found to protect this constitutional right, the exclusionary rule must prevail. I therefore respectfully dissent.