from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 107, 732 Honorable Katherine
C. Dorroh, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Holli Ann Herrle-Castillo
Counsel for Appellant
E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee
W. WALTMAN REBECCA A. EDWARDS Assistant District Attorneys
BROWN, MOORE, and PITMAN, JJ.
1978, Defendant Calvin Ray Palmer, who was a juvenile at the
time of this offense, was convicted of second degree murder
and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor without the
benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence for
the first 40 years. However, in accordance with Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407
(2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___,
136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), the trial court
resentenced Defendant to life imprisonment at hard labor,
with the benefit of parole eligibility. He now appeals. For
the following reasons, Defendant's sentence is affirmed.
February 27, 1978, 17-year-old Defendant was indicted on one
count of second degree murder, in violation of La. R.S.
14:30.1. Following a jury trial, he was found guilty of the
January 28, 1978 shooting death of Shelly Diggs. On November
20, 1978, the trial court imposed the mandatory sentence of
life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of
parole, probation or suspension of sentence for the first 40
years. Defendant did not appeal his conviction or sentence.
February 8, 2017, Defendant filed a pro se motion to correct
an illegal sentence, arguing that his mandatory life sentence
was unconstitutional under Miller, supra,
and Montgomery, supra, because he was a
juvenile when the crime was committed. Counsel was appointed
to represent him. The state did not oppose his motion. On
April 27, 2017, the trial court resentenced Defendant to life
imprisonment at hard labor, with the benefit of parole
eligibility. This appeal followed.
argues that the trial court erred in failing to hold a
sentencing hearing to consider any possible mitigating
factors prior to resentencing and that automatically
resentencing him to life imprisonment with the benefit of
parole does not take into account the need for individualized
sentencing. He further argues that the sentence is excessive,
even though it falls within the statutory guidelines, and
that the trial court has the authority to deviate from a
those offenders convicted of second degree murder in 1978,
La. R.S. 14:30.1 provided for a sentence of life imprisonment
at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or
suspension of sentence for the first 40 years. The current
version of La. R.S. 14:30.1 provides for a sentence of life
imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole,
probation or suspension of sentence. In Miller,
supra, the U.S. Supreme Court held that "the
Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates
life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile
offenders." The Miller court did not establish
a categorical prohibition against life imprisonment without
parole for juvenile homicide offenders; instead, a sentencing
court is required to consider an offender's youth and
attendant characteristics as mitigating circumstances before
deciding whether to impose the harshest penalty for juveniles
convicted of a homicide offense. Montgomery,
supra; State v. Williams, 12-1766 (La.
3/8/13), 108 So.3d 1169.
response to Miller, supra, the Louisiana
legislature enacted La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 and La. R.S.
15:574.4(E), which became effective on August 1, 2013. When
enacted, La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 required a trial court to
conduct a hearing prior to imposing a life without parole
sentence on a juvenile murder defendant. In the event that
the trial court imposes a life sentence with parole
eligibility, La. R.S. 15:574.4(E) provided the conditions,
such as serving 35 ...