Louisiana Supreme Court Opinions
Louisiana v. Hoang
Opinion Date: March 26, 2019
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Defendant Khoi Hoang was indicted with conspiracy to commit second degree murder, solicitation to commit second degree murder, second degree murder, and obstruction of justice. Lien Nguyen was abducted from his home during the night on April 23, 2013. His hands were bound behind and his back, he was shot twice, and he was left to die in an area off Old Gentilly Highway. He was still alive when he was found by James Mushatt, who called 911. Mushatt reported seeing a Nissan Titan truck speeding away and said the victim told him that his wife was responsible for the crime. The victim died at the scene shortly after. The jury found defendant guilty as charged of obstruction but was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining charges. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility as a third-felony habitual offender. The court of appeal reversed because it found the evidence insufficient to support the conviction. After a review of the record, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded, from all of the evidence presented, a jury could reasonably infer (without speculating) that defendant removed the truck’s license plate or directed someone else to do so because the truck was going to be used in a murder or had just been used in a murder. Thus, the majority of the appellate court erred in finding that “circumstantial evidence connecting Defendant to the removal of the license plate was nonexistent.” To accept defendant’s hypothesis of innocence, that the license plate went coincidentally missing at some point after the murder, would indeed be to accept an “extraordinary coincidence” when viewed in the context of the entirety of the State’s case, as noted by the lower court's dissent. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal’s decision and reinstated defendant’s conviction and sentence for obstruction of justice.
Louisiana Law Blog
Louisiana Law, News, Issues and Comments from Attorneys at the Shoultz Law Firm