from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Caddo, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 161651 Honorable Brady
D. O'Callaghan, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for
C. PLATER Pro Se.
JEFFREY M. LANDRY Attorney General COLIN CLARK Deputy
Solicitor General JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney
TOMMY J. JOHNSON LAURA O. FULCO Assistant District Attorneys
Counsel for Appellee.
BROWN, DREW, and MOORE, JJ.
September 20, 1992, Steven Potter sustained a fatal gunshot
wound to the back of his head as he unloaded trash from his
vehicle parked near a dumpster. Potter's vehicle was
stolen. Willie Plater, along with two other individuals, was
arrested. Although Plater was indicted on a charge of first
degree murder, a unanimous jury ultimately convicted him of
second degree murder. Plater, who was 17 years old when the
crime was committed, received the mandatory sentence of life
imprisonment at hard labor to be served without the benefit
of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Plater
appealed. This Court affirmed Plater's conviction and
sentence. State v. Plater, 26, 252 (La.App. 2 Cir.
09/21/94), 643 So.2d 313, writ denied, 94-2608 (La.
02/03/95), 649 So.2d 402.
Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183
L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), the United States Supreme Court held that
the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that
mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for
juvenile homicide offenders. The Miller court did
not establish a categorical prohibition against life without
parole for juvenile homicide offenders; instead, the case
required the sentencing court to consider certain factors,
including the offender's youth, before deciding whether
to impose life with or without parole.
2016, the United States Supreme Court, in Montgomery v.
Louisiana, 577 U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599
(2016), held that Miller applied retroactively. On
April 29, 2016, Plater filed a motion and memorandum in
support of his resentencing pursuant to La.C.Cr.P. art. 882.
resentencing hearing was held on June 20, 2016. The state
waived its right to present evidence that Plater is
irreparably corrupt, and defense counsel did not present any
evidence. The trial court vacated Plater's original
sentence and resentenced him to life imprisonment with the
benefit of parole eligibility under La. R.S. 15:574.4(E).
counsel filed a motion to reconsider sentence, arguing that
if Plater would have had the opportunity to present evidence
at the hearing, he would have been resentenced to
manslaughter. Plater also filed a pro se motion to
reconsider sentence. The trial court denied both motions. This
defense argues that because the mandatory sentence of life
imprisonment without the benefit of parole for second degree
murder is unconstitutional, Plater should have been
resentenced to the next lesser included offense of
manslaughter in effect at the time of the commission of the
offense, citing State v. Craig, 340 So.2d 191 (La.
1976). The maximum sentence for a manslaughter conviction in
1992 was 21 years. In the alternative, the defense contends
that the trial court should have reviewed Plater's record
and used its authority to deviate downward from the mandatory
minimum sentence to impose a sentence that was not
response to Miller, the Louisiana legislature
enacted La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 and La. R.S. 15:574.4(E), ...