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State v. Turner

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 28, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
RALPH DAVID TURNER, JR. Appellant

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 16F2881 Honorable Bernard Scott Leehy, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Paula Corley Marx Counsel for Appellant

          ROBERT STEPHEN TEW District Attorney, MICHAEL J. FONTENOT Assistant District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          Before GARRETT, STONE, and COX, JJ.

          COX, J.

         The defendant, Ralph David Turner, Jr., pled guilty to second degree battery in exchange for the state's dismissal of two other charges. Turner was sentenced to five years at hard labor; all but the first two years were suspended. Turner is to be placed on active supervised probation for three years upon his release from incarceration. Turner was given credit for time served on this and any other offense for which he was incarcerated. He was ordered to participate in an anger management program and substance abuse program while incarcerated, and continue treatment in his probationary period if not completed. A motion to reconsider sentence was denied. Turner appeals his sentence as excessive.

         FACTS

         On October 13, 2016, Turner was charged by bill of information with the second degree battery of his mother, Nelwyn Turner, in violation of La. R.S. 14:34.1, which occurred on or about July 23, 2016. The initial bill incorrectly named the victim and, on December 19, 2016, was amended to change the victim's name to Ms. Turner. Also on December 19, 2016, pursuant to a plea agreement, Turner pled guilty to the second degree battery charge. In exchange for the guilty plea, the state agreed to dismiss charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, illegal possession of a stolen firearm, and two counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

         The factual basis for the plea was recited by the district attorney and agreed to by Turner:

Judge, this charge arises from an incident that happened on July 23, 2016, at 200 Leachman Street, which is the residence of, uh - of him and his mother at that time - at the time of his arrest the residence of him and his mother. Uh, on that date, at approximately 3:00 o'clock in the morning, he and his mother were talking in her bedroom when he began to attack her and struck her multiple times with his fist in the face, including the eye and jaw. She had to go to the hospital for injuries, uh, that she received in the incident. And, at the hospital, there was discovery that she had some bleeding on the brain and blood clots. She was transferred to Shreveport. So because of the nature of the number of times he hit her and the injuries she received, we believe second degree battery is the proper charge.

         Turner agreed to the factual basis and was advised of his rights and freely and voluntarily entered a plea of guilty. There was no agreement as to sentencing and the trial court ordered a PSI report. Before the conclusion of the plea, Turner requested that he be given some help in the way of "rehab or something." The trial judge stated that he would work that into sentencing. Sentencing was set for February 13, 2017. For reasons not clear in the record, the matter was reset twice and the sentencing hearing was held on May 31, 2017.

         Prior to sentencing, on January 4, 2017 and February 6, 2017, Turner filed two pro se motions to withdraw his guilty plea on the sole basis that sentencing had not yet occurred. Both motions were denied. On March 2, 2017, Turner filed a pro se motion to clarify sentence which was denied as premature because he had not yet been sentenced.

         Turner declined to make any comments at the sentencing hearing. Ms. Turner made the following statement:

I'm not scared of my son. That's the only time he's ever put a finger on me and if he doesn't get out pretty soon, he's going to lose his children and he ...

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