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State v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 11, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
VERONICA DENICE JACKSON Appellant

         Appealed from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of Lincoln, Louisiana Trial Court No. 66641 Honorable Cynthia T. Woodard, Judge

          RICHARD J. GALLOT, JR. Counsel for Appellant

          JOHN F. BELTON District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          TRACY W. HOUCK LEWIS A. JONES Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, MOORE and STONE, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, J.

         The defendant, Veronica Jackson, was indicted on the charge of second degree murder, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14.30.1. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to the responsive verdict of manslaughter, LSA-R.S. 14:31, with a sentence of at least 20 years and the possibility of the statutory maximum sentence of 40 years. The district court sentenced defendant to serve the maximum 40 years' imprisonment at hard labor. The defendant appeals the sentence imposed as excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In November 2014, the victim, Grover Brown, was found dead on the floor of his home with two gunshot wounds to the head. In the investigation, defendant became a suspect. She was arrested and charged with second degree murder. After defendant entered a plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, the district court ordered a sanity commission. Based on the reports of doctors, the court found that defendant had the mental capacity to assist in her defense.

         Pursuant to a plea bargain, defendant pled guilty to manslaughter with a minimum sentence of 20 years and the possibility of the statutory maximum sentence of 40 years. In accepting the guilty plea, the district court expressly stated that defendant was not waiving her right to seek appellate review of her sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced defendant to serve 40 years' imprisonment at hard labor. The defendant's motion to reconsider sentence was denied and this appeal followed.

          DISCUSSION

         The defendant contends the district court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Defendant argues that a less harsh sentence is warranted because she has no prior criminal record, she admitted her guilt and she showed remorse for committing the crime.

         A defendant cannot appeal or seek review of a sentence imposed in conformity with a plea agreement which was set forth in the record at the time of the plea. LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 881.2(A)(2). This provision applies to both agreed-upon sentences and sentencing ceilings, ranges and caps. State v. Young, 96-0195 (La. 10/15/96), 680 So.2d 1171; State v. Brown, 50, 138 (La.App. 2d Cir. 9/30/15), 181 So.3d 170; State v. Burford, 39, 801 (La.App. 2d Cir. 6/29/05), 907 So.2d 873. This Court has allowed review of a defendant's sentence, even though there was an agreed-upon sentence, sentencing range, or sentencing cap, when the trial court mentions the right to appeal the sentence during the plea colloquy. State v. Brown, supra. Otherwise, the issue of whether the advisement of the right to appeal had any effect on the voluntariness of the plea might arise. Id.

         Review of the guilty plea colloquy in this case shows that defendant waived her right to appeal her conviction, but did not waive her right to appeal her sentence. Thus, we ...


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