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State v. Debarge

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 7, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
JEFFERY DEBARGE AKA JEFFERY SCOT DEBARGE

         APPEAL FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON, NO. 89, 794 HONORABLE VERNON B. CLARK, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Sherry Watters Jeffery Scot Debarge Counsel for Defendant/Appellant.

          Asa A. Skinner District Attorney, Terry W. Lambright First Assistant District Attorney State of LouisianaCounsel for Appellee:

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE

         Defendant, Jeffery Scot Debarge, was charged by bill of information with three counts of video voyeurism, in violation of La.R.S. 14:283, and one count of possession of pornography involving juveniles, in violation of La.R.S. 14:81.1, to which he tendered a plea of not guilty to all counts. Prior to that time, Defendant's counsel had filed an Application for Appointment of Sanity Commission, which was granted by the trial court. After a December 2016 hearing, Defendant was found competent to stand trial.

         On January 13, 2017, as part of a plea agreement, Defendant tendered a plea of guilty to three counts of video voyeurism. According to the factual basis for the charges presented by the State at his guilty plea hearing, Defendant placed a video camera inside the bathroom of the home where he lived with his girlfriend and her nine-year-old daughter, J.I., [1] which captured videos of an adult female and J.I. in various stages of undress and nudity. Defendant also took still photographs of J.I.'s genital and pubic area from under the covers of her bed. In accordance with the plea agreement, the State dismissed the count of possession of pornography involving juveniles and recommended concurrent sentences. On March 14, 2017, Defendant was sentenced to four years at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for Count 1, under the provisions of La.R.S. 14:283(B)(3); to five years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for Count 2, in accordance with La.R.S. 14:283(B)(4); and to seven years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence for Count 3, in accordance with La.R.S. 14:283(B)(4).[2] The sentences were ordered to run concurrent with each other, and Defendant was given credit for time served from the date of his arrest.

         Defendant filed a Motion to Reconsider Sentence wherein he alleged his sentences are excessive under the totality of the circumstances. The trial court denied the motion ex parte. Defendant timely appealed his sentence.

         DISCUSSION

         Excessiveness

         In his sole assignment of error, Defendant alleges the trial court "imposed excessive sentences on each count that are not warranted by the offenses or the circumstances of the first offender, [3] and contain a restriction on parole that is not authorized by the statute."

         Louisiana courts have laid out the following guidelines regarding constitutionally excessive sentence review:

Sentences within the statutory sentencing range can be reviewed for constitutional excessiveness. State v. Sepulvado, 367 So.2d 762 (La.1979). In State v. Barling, 00-1241, 00-1591, p. 12 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1/31/01), 779 So.2d 1035, 1042-43, writ denied, 01-838 (La.2/1/02), 808 So.2d 331, a panel of this court discussed the review of excessive sentence claims, stating:
La. Const. art. I, § 20 guarantees that, "[n]o law shall subject any person to cruel or unusual punishment." To constitute an excessive sentence, the reviewing court must find the penalty so grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime as to shock our sense of justice or that the sentence makes no measurable contribution to acceptable penal goals and is, therefore, nothing more than a needless imposition of pain and suffering. State v. Campbell, 404 So.2d 1205 (La.1981). The trial court has wide discretion in the imposition of sentence within the statutory limits and such sentence shall not be set aside as excessive absent a manifest abuse of discretion. State v. Etienne, 99-192 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/13/99); 746 So.2d 124, writ denied, 00-0165 (La.6/30/00); 765 So.2d 1067. The relevant question is whether the trial court abused its broad ...

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