FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST.
MARTIN, NO. 11-241841, DIVISION "H" HONORABLE LORI
A. LANDRY, DISTRICT JUDGE
E. Boren COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant - Robbie Ray Frith
Bofill Duhé, W. Claire Howington COUNSEL FOR:
Plaintiff/Appellee - State of Louisiana
Hogan COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant - Robbie Ray Frith
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D.
Saunders, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.
ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX, CHIEF JUDGE.
convicted Robbie Ray Frith of five counts of aggravated
incest, in violation of La.R.S. 14:78.1. Defendant was
subsequently sentenced to serve thirty-five years at hard
labor with the first twenty-five years served without benefit
of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence on counts one
and five; twenty-five years at hard labor without probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence with regard to counts two
and three; and ten years at hard labor plus a $50,000 fine
with regard to count four. All of these sentences were
ordered to run concurrently and Defendant was given credit
for time served.
previous appeal, Defendant alleged three assignments of
error: (1) that the trial court committed reversible error in
denying Defendant's challenge for cause of Gilbert
Blanchard; (2) that Defendant was incompetent to stand trial;
and (3) that the trial court improperly interjected its
religious beliefs into Defendant's sentencing hearing.
This court found the first two assignments of error lacked
merit, but remanded for resentencing due to the trial
court's failure to observe the mandatory twenty-four-hour
delay between ruling on a motion for new trial and sentencing
or obtaining a waiver of the delay. See State v.
Frith, 15-630 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/27/16) (unpublished
opinion), writ denied, 16-1011 (La. 5/26/17), 221
So.3d 79. This court did not address the merits of
Defendant's claim regarding the trial court's
interjection of its religious beliefs into Defendant's
remand and prior to resentencing, Defendant filed a
"Motion to Recuse Trial Court Judge" seeking
mandatory recusal of the trial judge under La.Code Crim.P.
arts. 671(A)(1) and 671(A)(6). Both sections require recusal
of a trial judge when the judge is unable to conduct a fair
and impartial trial, with La.Code Crim.P. art. 671(A)(1)
specifically being based on the judge being "biased,
prejudiced, or personally interested in the cause."
trial court held a hearing at which time it denied
Defendant's motion to recuse without referring it to
another judge and sentenced Defendant to the exact same
sentences he had previously received. Defendant objected to
the excessiveness of the sentences.
filed a "Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence,"
arguing his sentences were constitutionally excessive for a
man of his advanced age suffering from physical and mental
health issues. His motion was denied.
now appeals his sentences, raising two assignments of error:
(1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to recuse
without referring the motion to another judge; and (2) the
sentences are constitutionally excessive. For the following
reasons, we again vacate Defendant's sentences and remand
to the trial court so that Defendant's motion to recuse
may be heard by a randomly allotted judge pursuant to La.Code
Crim.P. art. 675(B).
On February 24, 2012, Defendant, Robbie Ray Frith, was
charged with five counts of aggravated incest involving his
five step-grandchildren, in violation of La.R.S. 14:78.1.1
Aside from count four, all other counts involved children
under the age of thirteen. Counts two and three involved his
two younger step-granddaughters, and Defendant was alleged to
have kissed each of them inappropriately. With respect to
count four, involving his oldest step-granddaughter who was
over the age of thirteen, Defendant was alleged to have made
an inappropriate comment while she was wearing a bathing
suit, licked icing off her finger inappropriately and touched
her leg inappropriately. ...