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State v. Thomas

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 10, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
BRANDON DALE THOMAS Appellant

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 16F2067 Honorable Scott Leehy, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Holli Herrle-Castillo Counsel for Appellant

          ROBERT STEPHEN TEW District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          MICHELLE ANDERSON THOMPSON Assistant District Attorney

          Before MOORE, GARRETT, and COX, JJ.

          COX, J.

         The defendant, Brandon Dale Thomas ("Thomas"), pled guilty to four counts of attempted aggravated crime against nature. On Counts One and Two, Thomas was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor, with the first 20 years to be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Counts One and Two were ordered to be served concurrently with each other. On Counts Three and Four, Thomas was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor. Counts Three and Four were ordered to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively to Counts One and Two. Thomas now appeals, arguing that his sentence is excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Thomas was charged by bill of information with 13 counts of aggravated crime against nature. The victim, M.C.[1], is Thomas' stepdaughter. The bill alleged that these crimes occurred between October 6, 2012, and July 25, 2016.

         On December 19, 2016, pursuant to a plea agreement, Thomas appeared and pled guilty to four counts of the reduced charge of attempted aggravated crime against nature. During the plea colloquy, the trial court advised Thomas: "[A]s a result of the guilty plea, you'll be subjected to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment at hard labor, the first 20 years being without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. And the maximum would be 49 years, each count[.]" Thomas affirmed that was his understanding of the full and complete plea agreement. He signed the written plea agreement, which did not include a cap on the maximum sentence or indicate whether the sentences would be served consecutively or concurrently.

         As a factual basis for the plea, the state noted that Thomas sexually abused his stepdaughter on multiple occasions between October 6, 2012, and July 25, 2016. The abuse was disclosed when the victim's 15-year-old sister observed Thomas standing in a closet with M.C. in front of him; Thomas quickly zipped up his pants and turned around.

         The victim was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center. After a series of interviews, she disclosed that Thomas had been sexually abusing her since she was three years old. She stated Thomas had abused her over 20 times, and the abuse included forcing her to touch his penis, forcing her to put her mouth on his penis and scrotum, and forcing her to lie naked on top of Thomas' private parts. Thomas conceded that these facts were correct.

         On March 22, 2017, after reviewing the presentence investigation report, the trial court sentenced Thomas. On Counts One and Two, Thomas was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor, with the first 20 years to be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Counts One and Two were ordered to be served concurrently with each other. On Counts Three and Four, Thomas was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor. Counts Three and Four were ordered to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively to Counts One and Two.

         The defense filed a motion to reconsider sentence, arguing that Thomas' sentences were unduly harsh since he was a true first-offender. The trial ...


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