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State v. Shabazz

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 7, 2014


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Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court, In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Trial Court Number 08-10-0425. Honorable Bonnie Jackson, Judge.

Hillar C. Moore, III, District Attorney, Dylan C. Alge, Assistant District Attorney, Baton Rouge, LA, Attorneys for Appellee, State of Louisiana.

Frederick Kroenke, Louisiana Appellate Project, Baton Rouge, LA, Attorney for Appellant, Defendant -- Melik Abdullah Shabazz.

Malik Abdullah Shabazz, Defendant-Appellant, Pro se, St. Gabriel, LA.



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[2014 0431 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] WELCH, J.

The defendant, Malik Shabazz, was charged by bill of information with aggravated second degree battery, a violation of La. R.S. 14:34.7. He pled not guilty and, following a jury trial, was found guilty as charged. Pursuant to an agreement with the State wherein it would not file a habitual offender bill and would dismiss his pending charges, the defendant was sentenced to seven years at hard labor. He filed motions for new trial, postverdict judgment of acquittal, and to reconsider sentence, all of which were denied. The defendant now appeals, urging one counseled and four pro se assignments of error.[1] For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's conviction and sentence.


On December 20, 2009, Officer Christopher Rogers was dispatched to a house located at 428 Edison Street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Upon entering the residence, he observed the victim, Eric Moore, bleeding from his neck. The victim indicated that he had been stabbed by the defendant.

The night before the stabbing, a party was held on the patio of the home where the defendant lived, which backed up to the property where the house on 428 Edison Street was located. The defendant brought his 32-inch television outside for the guests to watch football. While cleaning up the next day, the defendant realized the television was missing. He walked to the 428 Edison Street house and asked the victim and Ronnie Brown,[2] who were watching football on television, about the missing television. According to the victim, the defendant was hostile and loud. The victim told the defendant that he did not know anything [2014 0431 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] about the television. The defendant returned fifteen-to-twenty minutes later. This time, he was more abrupt and hostile. He stated, " Y 'all are going to find my [expletive] T.V." Then, he ran up to the victim, cut him, and ran. The victim testified that the knife used by the defendant was a cheese knife, which he described as having a two-inch blade and a marble handle. He remembered it as having been used at the party the night before the stabbing for the cheese display. The victim was treated by paramedics on the scene for a three-to-five inch laceration to

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 the left side of his neck and transported to the hospital for further treatment.

The defendant testified at trial. According to his testimony, the victim asked him if he could have the television prior to the night of the party, and the defendant told him that he could purchase his own television. The defendant claimed that he set the television inside after the party. The victim was helping clean the next day by bringing things back inside the house. The defendant washed down the patio area outside, and when he came back inside, the television was missing. He walked to the Edison house and asked the v ictim and Brown if they knew anything about the missing television. He then called the man who owned the property and the homes, Chris Pilley. According to the defendant, Pilley told him to tell the victim and Brown to leave the Edison house. The defendant claimed that when he told the men to leave, they jumped up, one grabbed him, and a brawl ensued. The defendant testified that the victim attempted to punch him, but he got loose, punched both of the men, and ran home. The defendant denied having any type of weapon.


In his sole counseled assignment of error, the defendant argues that the sentence imposed is excessive. He complains that the district court failed to consider the factors for consideration in imposing a sentence and those surrounding [2014 0431 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] the offense and the offender. In support of his argument, the defendant contends that he and the victim have reconciled, he is a parent of three children who depend on him, he was an honor student at a community college, was gainfully employed, and served as a Mason.

Article I, Section 20 of the Louisiana Constitution prohibits the imposition of excessive punishment. Although a sentence may be within statutory limits, it may violate a defendant's constitutional right against excessive punishment and is subject to appellate review. State v. Sepulvado, 367 So.2d 762, 767 (La. 1979). Generally, a sentence is considered excessive if it is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime or is nothing more than the needless imposition of pain and suffering. A sentence is considered grossly disproportionate if, when the crime and punishment are considered in light of the harm to society, it is so disproportionate as to shock one's sense of justice. State v. Reed, 409 So.2d 266, 267 (La. 1982).

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 894.1 sets forth the factors for the district court to consider when imposing sentences. While the entire checklist of Article 894.1 need not be recited, the record must reflect that the district court adequately considered the criteria. State v. Brown, 2002-2231 (La.App. 1st Cir. 5/9/03), 849 So.2d 566, 569. A district court judge is given wide discretion in the imposition of sentences within statutory limits, and the sentence imposed should not be set aside as excessive in the absence of manifest abuse of discretion. State v. Lanclos, 419 So.2d 475, 478 (La. 1982). On appellate review of a sentence, the relevant question is whether the district court abused its broad sentencing discretion, not whether another sentence might have been more appropriate. State v. Thomas, 98-1144 (La. 10/9/98), 719 So.2d 49, 50 ( per curiam ).

" Whoever commits the crime of aggravated second degree battery shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, [2014 0431 La.App. 1 Cir. 5] for not more than fifteen years, or both." La. R S. 14:34.7 (prior ...

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