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State v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 9, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
ANTONIO M. JACKSON Appellant

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 170, 582 Honorable Brady O'Callaghan, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Douglas Lee Harville Counsel for Appellant

          ANTONIO M. JACKSON Pro Se

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          LAURA W. FULCO TOMMY J. JOHNSON Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, MOORE, and GARRETT, JJ.

          GARRETT, J.

         The defendant, Antonio M. Jackson, received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence for a second degree murder committed in 1994 when he was a juvenile. Following Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), the defendant filed motions to correct an illegal sentence. In compliance with State v. Montgomery, 2013-1163 (La. 6/28/16), 194 So.3d 606, the trial court vacated his sentence and resentenced him to life imprisonment without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, but with the possibility of parole. The defendant appeals. We affirm.

         FACTS

         In 1994, the defendant and two accomplices committed an armed robbery, during the course of which two victims were killed.[1] At the time of the offenses, the defendant was 17 years old. He was convicted of one count of manslaughter, for which he was sentenced to 40 years at hard labor, and one count of second degree murder, for which he received the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively. This court affirmed his convictions and sentences in State v. Jackson, 29, 470 (La.App. 2 Cir. 8/20/97), 707 So.2d 990.

          In Miller v. Alabama, supra, 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.

         Following the Miller decision, the defendant filed a pro se motion to correct illegal sentence in August 2012. Relying upon the principles of State v. Craig, 340 So.2d 191 (La. 1976), [2] he argued that he should be resentenced to no more than 40 years at hard labor. Counsel was appointed to assist the defendant. The motion was denied in December 2013.

         In 2013, the Louisiana Legislature enacted La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 and La. R.S. 15:574.4(E) to address cases under Miller. The former required district courts to conduct a hearing to determine parole eligibility, while the latter provided conditions under which juvenile homicide offenders could become eligible for parole consideration. In 2016, the United States Supreme Court, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, supra, held that Miller applied retroactively to defendants whose convictions and sentences were final prior to the decision in Miller.

          In May 2016, the defendant filed another pro se motion to correct illegal sentence. He again urged the Craig solution. At a hearing on June 21, 2016, the motion was denied, as was the defendant's request for appointment of counsel. However, to bring the defendant's sentence in compliance with Miller, the trial court vacated his sentence on the second degree murder conviction and imposed a sentence of life without the possibility of probation or suspension. Because it was unable to articulate adequate grounds for consecutive sentences and also to enhance the defendant's opportunity for parole eligibility in conformity with Miller, the court further ordered that this sentence be served concurrently with the defendant's sentence for manslaughter.

         On remand in the Montgomery case, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a per curiam decision on June 28, 2016, in which it directed lower courts to conduct hearings at which La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 and La. R.S. 15:574.4(E) were applied to determine whether to impose life imprisonment with or without parole eligibility. See State v. Montgomery, supra.

         In July 2016, the defendant filed a pro se notice of appeal, as well as a motion for appointment of counsel, which was granted.

         In August 2016, the defendant filed a pro se motion to reconsider sentence, in which he alleged violations of the ex post facto and due process clauses. The trial court issued a written ruling denying the motion.

         On September 27, 2016, the defendant and appointed counsel appeared for a hearing on another motion to reconsider sentence. The trial court granted the motion, vacated the sentence imposed in June 2016, and set the matter for resentencing on October 26, 2016. At that subsequent hearing, following the guidelines set forth by the Louisiana Supreme Court in State v. Montgomery, supra, the trial court again imposed a life sentence without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, but with the possibility of parole. It also ordered the defendant's sentences to run concurrently. In November 2016, both the defendant, proceeding pro se, and defense counsel filed motions to reconsider sentence, which were denied by a written ruling in December 2016.

         The instant appeal follows. Defense counsel asserts two assignments of error. In a pro se brief, the defendant ...


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