from the Fifth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Franklin, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2015-402F Honorable Terry
A. Doughty, Judge
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Carey J. Ellis, III Counsel
R. MEADOWS, JR. Pro Se
M. “MACK” LANCASTER District Attorney Counsel for
WILLIAM R. BARHAM AMANDA M. WILKINS Assistant District
WILLIAMS, GARRETT, and BLEICH (Ad Hoc), JJ.
defendant, Billy R. Meadows, Jr., was originally charged with
second degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's
two-year-old child. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he pled
guilty to a reduced charge of second degree cruelty to
juveniles, in violation of La. R.S. 14:93.2.3. The trial
court later imposed the maximum sentence of 40 years at hard
labor. The defendant appeals his sentence as excessive. We
affirm the defendant's conviction and sentence.
21, 2015, the defendant's girlfriend left her young son
in the defendant's care while she went to work. Several
hours later, the defendant called and told her to return to
the home they shared due to an emergency. She found the child
cool to the touch, with blue lips and his eyes rolled back.
She called 911, and the child was transported to the
emergency room where he was pronounced dead. The child's
stomach appeared swollen, and he had "visual
bruises" on his body. Further examination revealed a
discharge from his anal cavity. Upon further examination of the
child's anus, the doctor found evidence of sexual
molestation. The defendant later gave differing versions to
law enforcement officers of what transpired after the
child's mother left for work. These included accounts
wherein the child fell off a "pot" (apparently a
commode or potty chair) or down the stairs, and that he had
left the child alone in the residence only to return and find
him unconscious under a coffee table. Thinking that the child
was asleep, the defendant admitted kicking him. The defendant
also provided inconsistent accounts of hitting the child with
a belt in his genital area.
August 10, 2015, the defendant was charged by grand jury
indictment with the second degree murder of the child, during
the perpetration or attempted perpetration of cruelty to
juveniles. On January 10, 2017, he pled guilty to the crime
of second degree cruelty to juveniles in exchange for the
dismissal of a misdemeanor charge of simple criminal damage
to property. The state also agreed that the sentence would
run concurrent with any other sentence previously imposed and
that the defendant would be allowed credit for time served
from the date of his arrest. Because of the sensitive nature
of the crime, the state and the defense agreed to offer the
investigative case report as the factual basis for the plea.
That report outlined in great detail the facts recited above.
After accepting the plea, the trial court ordered a
presentence investigation (PSI) report.
March 7, 2017, the defendant received the maximum sentence
for second degree cruelty to juveniles, 40 years at hard
labor. The trial court ordered that the sentence be
concurrent with any other sentence, with credit for time
served. Prior to imposing sentence, the trial court fully
considered the contents of the PSI report, which had been
reviewed by both the state and the defense. The trial court
reviewed the facts of the matter, as well as the 34-year-old
defendant's personal and educational history, noting that
he dropped out of school in the ninth grade at age 16, was
incarcerated at about age 18, and worked odd jobs. The
defendant had four small children with three different women,
but had never been married.
trial court considered statements from the child's
mother, expressing the anger and mental suffering she endured
because of the loss of her child, and from the child's
grandmother, requesting justice for her grandson. It also
took under advisement statements from several law enforcement
officers, who requested the maximum sentence due to the
severity of the crime.
trial court reviewed the defendant's criminal history,
noting that he had no juvenile record, but was a
fourth-felony offender. The defendant's felony criminal
history included a September 2000 conviction for simple
burglary, for which he originally received a suspended
six-year sentence; however, his probation was revoked. He
also had convictions in November 2001 for possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon and simple burglary, for which
he received concurrent sentences of 10 years at hard labor.
Regarding these offenses, the trial court noted that the
defendant was originally charged with aggravated burglary, a
crime of violence, after he broke into a residence and stole
money and guns. The defendant had a 2013 conviction for
attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and
received a five-year hard labor sentence. The trial court
also considered three misdemeanor convictions in 2011 and
trial court considered the defendant's failure to
complete probation or parole at any time due to his continued
commission of crimes, noting that he ...