FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 20942-16 HONORABLE DAVID ALEXANDER RITCHIE,
F. DeRosier Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Carla S.
Sigler Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth B. Hollins
Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of
C. Marx Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Dudley Melancon, Jr.
composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D.
Kent Savoie, Judges.
SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE
Dudley Melancon Jr., was charged as a habitual offender on
December 27, 2016. The bill of information alleged Defendant
was previously convicted of second degree battery, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:34.1, on March 9, 2009, and of simple
robbery, violations of La.R.S. 14:65, on September 15, 2015,
and on August 31, 2016. The August 31, 2016 conviction for
simple robbery is now pending before this court in docket
number 17-943. All three felonies are statutorily identified
as crimes of violence. La.R.S. 14:2(B)(6) and (23).
March 24, 2017 hearing on the habitual offender bill,
appointed counsel requested the trial court defer the matter
pending appellate resolution of both simple robbery
convictions. The trial court denied the request and sentenced
Defendant to life imprisonment without benefit of probation,
parole, or suspension of sentence.
filed a pro se motion to reconsider his sentence on May 5,
2017, on grounds his September 29, 2015 conviction in St.
Landry Parish was the subject of a pending appeal. The trial
court denied the motion in written reasons on August 14,
2017. Defendant now seeks review of his habitual offender
adjudication and his statutorily-mandated life sentence.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
argues the trial court erred in sentencing him to life in
prison without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of
sentence where his predicate offenses are simple robbery and
second degree battery, with imposed sentences of no more than
seven years at hard labor. Defendant presented no witnesses
at the habitual offender hearing.
Revised Statutes 15:529.1(A)(3)(b) provides that a third
felony offender "shall be imprisoned for the remainder
of his natural life, without benefit of parole, probation, or
suspension of sentence" when the three felonies are
classified as crimes of violence pursuant to La.R.S. 14:2(B).
Simple robbery and second degree battery are classified as
crimes of violence. La.R.S. 14:2(B)(23) and (6). Thus,
La.R.S. 15:529.1 requires Defendant to be sentenced to life
imprisonment without benefits.
a trial court should give great deference to a statutory
sentence, it may:
declare a sentence excessive under Article I, Section 20 of
the Louisiana Constitution, although it falls within the
statutory limits provided by the Legislature. State v.
Sepulvado, 367 So.2d 762, 767 (La.1979). In State v.
Dorthey, supra, this Court recognized that this power
extends to the minimum sentences mandated by the Habitual
Offender Law. Id. at 1280-81. However, this power
should be exercised only when the court is clearly and firmly
convinced that the minimum sentence is excessive.
State v. Johnson, 97-1906, p. 6 (La. 3/4/98), 709
So.2d 672, 676. The trial court may only depart from the
statutory minimum "if it finds that there is clear and
convincing evidence" to rebut a "presumption of
constitutionality." Id. The nonviolent nature
of a defendant's criminal history by itself does not
rebut that presumption. In order for a defendant to ...