APPEALED FROM THE TWENTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR THE PARISH OF EAST FELICIANA, STATE OF LOUISIANA. DOCKET NUMBER 71-CR-10742, DIVISION " B" . HONORABLE JEROME WINSBURG, A.D. HOC JUDGE.
Stewart B. Hughes, St. Francisville, Louisiana, Attorney for Appellee, State of Louisiana.
James E. Boren, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Clare Svendsen, Lafayette, Louisiana, Attorneys for Appellant, Lee Roy Jenkins.
BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.
[2014 0430 La.App. 1 Cir. 2]
Lee Roy Jenkins, a fifteen year old defendant, was charged by grand jury indictment with the murder of Edward
Trask, committed on July 3, 1971, a violation of La. R.S. 14:30. A sanity commission was appointed, and the defendant was found competent to stand trial. He then entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. Later, he withdrew that plea and entered a plea of guilty to avoid capital punishment. On March 1, 1972, he was sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor " for the balance of his natural life time." In light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S., 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), on March 28, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to correct illegal sentence. On April 16, 2013, the trial court vacated the defendant's previously imposed sentence without objection from the State, and following a later contradictory hearing on December 16, 2013, resentenced him to imprisonment at " hard labor, for the balance of his natural life," without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The defendant now appeals, arguing the sentence imposed was unconstitutionally excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's conviction, vacate his December 26, 2013 sentence, and reinstate his March 1, 1972 sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor " for the balance of his natural life time."
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Because of the defendant's guilty plea, many of the facts and circumstances of the crime are undeveloped. Evidence in the record demonstrates that, in early July 1971, the defendant went to the home of Edward Trask, the victim, in Norwood, Louisiana, to burglarize the home. The defendant was unarmed at this time. After Mr. Trask saw the defendant, he shot at the defendant, who then ran away. On July 3, 1971, Mr. Trask again found the defendant on his property. The defendant was armed with a .22 caliber rifle, and Mr. Trask had a .22 caliber revolver. Mr. Trask accosted the [2014 0430 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] defendant, and when he did, the defendant raised his rifle. Mr. Trask first fired several shots at the defendant, none of which struck the defendant. The defendant then fired at Mr. Trask, striking him twice. Mr. Trask's wife, who observed the confrontation between the two men, got into her car and drove to find help. Though the defendant tried to stop her, he did not shoot at her. The defendant then returned to Mr. Trask, took his wallet containing several hundred dollars, and fled to Mississippi. Mr. Trask died before help arrived. A few days later, the defendant was apprehended near Woodville, Mississippi. After he pled guilty, was sentenced, and began serving his sentence, the defendant escaped from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, and subsequently fled to Chicago, Illinois. He remained in Chicago for nearly a decade until he was apprehended by authorities after applying to become a Chicago police officer. He was returned to prison in Louisiana.
In his sole assignment of error, the defendant contends his sentence is unconstitutionally excessive in light of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S., 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012). Specifically, he claims that his " lack of any criminal history, the isolated nature of the offense[,] and his demonstrated rehabilitation support the conclusion that life with the possibility of parole is the most appropriate sentence."
In Miller, the United States Supreme Court held that the ...