On Appeal from the Twenty-Third Judicial District Court, In and for the Parish of Assumption, State of Louisiana. No. 11-CR-00009, Div. D. The Honorable Jessie M. LeBlanc, Judge Presiding.
Ricky L. Babin, District Attorney, Donald D. Candell, Assistant District Attorney, Gonzales, Louisiana, Attorney for Appellee, State of Louisiana.
Mary E. Roper, Louisiana Appellate Project, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Defendant/Appellant, Stacy T. LeBlanc.
BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND DRAKE, JJ.
[2014 1455 La.App. 1 Cir. 2]
A grand jury charged the defendant, Stacy T. LeBlanc, with distribution of a schedule II controlled dangerous substance (crack cocaine), a violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A)(1). (R. 21). The defendant pled not guilty. (R. 7). A jury found the defendant guilty as charged following a trial. (R. 17). Subsequently, the trial court sentenced defendant to fifteen years at hard labor, with the first five years of that sentence to be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. (R. 18). The defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentence, which the trial court denied. (R. 19). The defendant now appeals, alleging two assignments of error. The defendant first argues that his sentence is excessive; second, the defendant contends that the trial court should have investigated the defendant's attorney-client relationship to determine if he should have been allowed to procure new counsel. For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's conviction, but we vacate his sentence and remand the matter to the trial court for resentencing.
On September 9, 2010, Detective Gabrielle Price of the Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office was working undercover and patrolling La. Hwy. 308 in Belle Rose. Under the supervision of Sergeant Brandon Rivere and Captain B.J. Rock, Detective Price was attempting to make contact with street-level drug dealers in the Belle Rose area. (R. 116-17, 134).
As Detective Price drove down La. Hwy. 308, she saw the defendant walking down the middle of the highway. Detective Price rolled down her window to ask the defendant if he knew where she could get a " 20," which is street slang for crack cocaine valued at $20.00. The defendant directed Detective Price to pull over down the road, which she did at the intersection of Bernard Lane and La. Hwy. 308. Detective Price observed as the defendant reached into his sock and appeared to retrieve something. The defendant met Detective Price at her car, [2014 1455 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] asked her to step out of it, and placed a rock of suspected crack cocaine on the trunk. The defendant advised Detective Price to drop her money on the ground. When she complied, the defendant retrieved the money and began to walk away. This entire transaction was captured on video via several recording devices in Detective Price's vehicle. Detective Price secured the presumed crack cocaine and, once inside her vehicle, placed it into a plastic baggy that she tagged with her initials and the amount that she paid. Detective Price met up with Sergeant Rivere, to whom she turned over the evidence. Subsequent analysis found the presumed contraband to contain 0.17 grams of cocaine. The defendant was later arrested and charged with distribution of cocaine. (R. 113, 119, 123-24, 137; Exhibit State-3).
REVIEW FOR ERROR
For errors not assigned, we are limited in our review under La. C.Cr.P. art. 920(2) to errors discoverable by a mere inspection of the pleadings and proceedings without inspection of the evidence. See State v. Price, 05-2514 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/28/06), 952 So.2d 112, 123 (en banc), writ denied, 07-0130 (La. 2/22/08), 976 So.2d 1277. After careful review, we have found a sentencing error.
For his conviction of distribution of cocaine, the defendant was sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor, with the first five years to be served without benefit of ...