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State v. Higgins

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 9, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
GEORGE EDWARD HIGGINS Appellant

         Appealed from the Fifth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Richland, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2013237 Honorable Ann Bolton McIntyre, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Carey J. Ellis, III Counsel for Appellant.

          GEORGE EDWARD HIGGINS Pro Se.

          JOHN MCINTOSH LANCASTER District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.

          KENNETH DOUGLAS WHEELER AMANDA MICHELE WILKINS Assistant District Attorneys.

          Before BROWN, MOORE, and STONE, JJ.

          STONE, J.

         The defendant, George Edward Higgins, pled guilty to forcible rape and sexual battery, and agreed to 40 years at hard labor for forcible rape and 50 years at hard labor for sexual battery, to be served concurrently. Higgins requested and was granted this appeal; however, appellate counsel filed a motion to withdraw, together with a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), alleging there are no nonfrivolous issues upon which to base an appeal. For the following reasons, the motion to withdraw is granted, Higgins' convictions are affirmed, and his sentences are vacated and remanded for resentencing.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         George Edward Higgins ("Higgins") was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated rape, aggravated incest, and aggravated battery, based on egregious sexual conduct with his juvenile daughter from 2007 to 2013. At the arraignment, Higgins pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, to all charges. Counsel for Higgins requested the trial court appoint a sanity commission and make a determination about Higgins' competency. The trial court signed an order appointing two physicians to examine Higgins and render reports concerning his mental condition at the time of the alleged offenses, his capacity to understand the proceedings against him, and his ability to assist in his defense.

         Higgins pled guilty to the lesser charges of attempted aggravated rape and sexual battery. The trial court accepted Higgins' guilty pleas and sentenced him to 50 years at hard labor, without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, for the attempted aggravated rape conviction and 50 years at hard labor, 25 years of which would be served without probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, for the sexual battery conviction. However, the trial court failed to conduct a sanity hearing and this Court was forced to vacate Higgins' convictions and sentences and remand the matter.

         On remand, a sanity hearing was conducted and based on the reports of the appointed physicians, the trial court found Higgins was competent at the time of the alleged crimes, and competent to stand trial. The state subsequently charged Higgins by an amended bill of information with forcible rape in violation of La. R.S. 14:42.1, and sexual battery, in violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1. In exchange for his guilty pleas, Higgins agreed to serve 40 years at hard labor for the forcible rape conviction and 50 years at hard labor for the sexual battery conviction, with the sentences to run concurrently.

         Higgins requested and was granted this appeal. His appellate counsel has filed an Anders brief, seeking to withdraw, on grounds that he could find no nonfrivolous issues to raise on appeal. See Anders v. California, supra, State v. Jyles, 96-2669 (La. 12/12/97), 704 So.2d 241; State v. Mouton, 95-0981 (La. ...


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