FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. CR 129658 HONORABLE EDWARD D. RUBIN, DISTRICT
Annette Roach Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Bill Eric Winters
Lafayette Parish District Attorney - 15th Judicial
District Court Allan P. Haney Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana
composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, John E. Conery, and David
E. Chatelain, [*] Judges.
E. CONERY, JUDGE
Bill Eric Winters, was convicted of simple burglary, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:62, and originally sentenced to serve
seven years at hard labor. State v. Winters, 11-581,
12-205, 13-303 (La.App. 3 Cir. 7/24/13), 118 So.3d 104,
writ denied, 13-1959 (La. 2/21/14), 133 So.3d 681.
Defendant was then adjudicated a multiple felony offender
based on eight prior felony convictions and sentenced to
serve twelve years at hard labor without benefit of parole,
probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant and the State
appealed. This court held Defendant should have been
sentenced under the habitual offender law in accordance with
La.R.S. 15:529.1(A)(1)(c)(ii),  which mandates a life sentence.
Defendant's sentence was remanded to the trial court for
resentencing in accordance with that statute.
remand, the trial court resentenced Defendant to fourteen
years at hard labor. The trial court also denied
Defendant's motion to reconsider the fourteen-year
sentence. Defendant has now appealed that sentence, arguing
the proper sentence is the original seven-year sentence, or
alternatively, the twelve-year sentence. The State has filed
a brief indicating it does not oppose the current
fourteen-year sentence. For the following reasons, we affirm
Defendant's fourteen-year sentence.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
committed simple burglary when he entered Oncologics, Inc. in
Lafayette, Louisiana without authorization on a Sunday
morning while the business was closed. One of the employees
testified at trial that "her desk drawer was open and
'some Gobstoppers and some special dark chocolate'
were missing from her desk, and her calendar on her desk had
been moved." Winters, 118 So.3d at 109. An
officer testified that he found Gobstopper candy in
Defendant's possession at the time of his arrest.
accordance with La.Code CrimP. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After
reviewing the record, we find that there are no errors
sole assignment of error for this appeal, Defendant argues
his fourteen-year sentence is excessive. In our previous
decision in this case, this court discussed the State's
argument for a mandatory life sentence and agreed that the
statute at issue does provide for a mandatory life sentence
under the habitual offender law as an eighth felony offender.
Winters, 118 So.3d 104. However, this court also
noted that the trial court "may deviate from that
statutorily mandated sentence if it determines that a
particular sentence (including one mandated by the Habitual
Offender Law) is excessive under Article I, Section 20 of the
Louisiana Constitution." Id. at 112. This court
noted on original appeal that the trial court had not stated
extraordinary circumstances to allow deviation from the
mandatory life sentence.
remand, the trial court considered Defendant's
"record of non-violent [sic] offenses[.]" The trial
court also noted Defendant "may be a victim of
legislative failure to assign sentences that are meaningful
or tailored to the culpability of the offender, the gravity
of the offense [, ] and the circumstances of the case."
Further, the trial court stated that although Defendant
"continues to show some disregard for the law, [he] will
not benefit nor will our tax payers benefit by subjecting him
to imprisonment for the remainder of his life without the
benefit of parole or suspension of sentence." Reviewing
Defendant's history, the trial court noted three of
Defendant's siblings "died prematurely[, ]" and
an expert witness had reported Defendant himself "was a
victim of molestation . . . when he was just eight years old,
and that [Defendant] began experiencing depression as a
result." Additionally, at the sentencing hearing on
remand, Defendant filed certificates showing his
accomplishments during his incarceration. According to
Defendant, he received a Spiritual Growth Certificate from
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on July 13, 2016;
five Certificates of Completion in Life Prep, Substance Abuse
Education, and Living in Balance courses from the Rayburn
Correctional Center from 2014 to 2016; a Certificate of
Completion of the One Year Faith Based ...