from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 48, 543 Honorable Bernard
Scott Leehy, Judge
HERRLE-CASTILLO Counsel for Appellant
FRANKLIN LOONEY Pro Se
S. TEW District Attorney Counsel for Appellee
S. AYCOCK Assistant District Attorney
BROWN, MOORE, and PITMAN, JJ.
1992, defendant, Leo Franklin Looney, was convicted of second
degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard
labor without the benefit of parole, probation, or
suspension of sentence. Because defendant was a 15-year-old
juvenile when he committed this offiense in 1989, in
accordance with 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 trial court has now vacated Looney's sentence
and resentenced him to life imprisonment at hard labor
with the benefit of parole eligibility. We affirm.
to the facts as set forth in this Court's prior
unpublished appellate opinion, on July 26, 1989, 15-year-old
Leo Looney and his cousin, Kenneth Price, purchased a pistol
to use in the robbery of a Cracker Barrel convenience store
in Ouachita Parish. Price, followed by Looney, entered the
store to make a small purchase. When the clerk opened the
register, defendant pulled out the gun and demanded the
money. Two eyewitnesses pulled into the parking lot and
testified to the robbery in progress. Defendant heard the
sound of the car engine, looked in that direction, and fired
the pistol. The store clerk was killed. Following a trial,
the jury found defendant guilty of second degree murder. On
November 19, 1992, Looney was sentenced to life imprisonment
at hard labor without the benefit of parole. This Court
affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence in an
unpublished opinion. Defendant filed several applications for
post-conviction relief that were denied.
October 29, 2012, defendant filed a pro se motion to correct
an illegal sentence, arguing that his mandatory life without
parole sentence was unconstitutional under Miller v.
Alabama, supra, because he was 15 years old
when the crime was committed. In Miller, 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 offenders. The trial court
denied the motion to correct illegal sentence because
Louisiana courts initially viewed Miller as a
procedural change that did not apply retroactively.
the United States Supreme Court held that Miller
applied retroactively to cases on collateral review, such as
the instant case, in Montgomery v. Louisiana,
supra, defendant filed a pro se "Motion to
Amend to Manslaughter." Defendant argued that, because
his life sentence without parole had been ruled
unconstitutional, he should be sentenced under the next
responsive offense of manslaughter. Following a hearing on
August 1, 2016, the trial court denied the motion, finding
that the court did not have the authority to resentence
defendant under the manslaughter statute. On June 22, 2016,
defendant filed another pro se motion to correct illegal
sentence. Defendant again argued that his conviction and
sentence should be vacated as illegal, and that he should be
convicted of the next responsive verdict, manslaughter.
September 2, 2016, defendant's attorney filed a motion to
reconsider sentence. Counsel noted that, since the denial of
defendant's pro se "Motion to Amend to Manslaughter,
" another defendant had been resentenced to the sentence
for manslaughter by a judge in a different section of the
court. Counsel requested that the trial court reconsider
resentencing defendant under the manslaughter statute. The
motion to reconsider sentence was denied.
February 16, 2017, the trial court vacated defendant's
original sentence and imposed a new sentence of life
imprisonment with the benefit of parole eligibility.
In lengthy written reasons for the sentence, the trial court
noted that it had ordered a pre-sentence investigation and
conducted a sentencing hearing prior to resentencing
defendant. The trial court found that defendant was not the
"rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable
corruption" deserving of a life sentence without the
benefit of parole. The trial court reviewed the facts of the
offense, defendant's criminal record, his ...