FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NOS. 18591-14 & 6713-15 HONORABLE CLAYTON
DAVIS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Foster DeRosier Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Brett
Gaspard Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth B. Hollins
Assistant District Attorney Karen C. McLellan Assistant
District Attorney Carla S. Sigler Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: State of Louisiana
S. Clemons Todd Clemons & Associates COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: McKartney Young
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and
Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.
SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE
State of Louisiana appeals the sentence imposed on
Defendant/Appellee, McKartney Young, who was adjudicated a
third felony offender pursuant to La.R.S. 15:529.1. The State
contends that the sentence was illegally lenient. For the
reasons that follow, we vacate Defendant's sentence and
remand the matter to the trial court for resentencing in
accordance with this opinion.
was indicted by a Calcasieu Parish grand jury with Possession
of a Controlled Dangerous Substance-Schedule II (cocaine)
with intent to distribute, a violation of La.R.S. 40:967, and
Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance- Schedule V
(codeine) with intent to distribute, a violation of La.R.S.
40:970. Plea negotiations ensued Defendant's entry of a
plea of not guilty. Despite the fact that he had not reached
an agreement with the State on the recommended sentences,
Defendant entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to five
years imprisonment on each charge. These sentences were to run
concurrently with each other and with a probation violation
he was serving at the time.
State then charged Defendant with being a fourth habitual
offender pursuant to La.R.S. 15:529.1. Defendant denied the
charge. At the hearing on the habitual offender charge, the
trial court adjudicated Defendant a habitual offender,
vacated the sentences imposed at Defendant's entry of the
guilty pleas, and sentenced Defendant to twenty years
imprisonment without benefit or probation, parole, or
suspension of sentence.
filed a motion for new trial and reconsideration of sentence,
which the trial court granted. At the new trial on the
habitual offender bill, the State introduced evidence to
prove that Defendant had been convicted in 2005 of simple
burglary and possession of a Controlled Dangerous
Substance-Schedule IV, in 2011 of possession of a Controlled
Dangerous Substance-Schedule II, and of the 2015 guilty pleas
referenced above. According to the testimony of
Defendant's attorney at the time of his plea, while the
State regularly threatened defendants with being charged as
habitual offenders if they rejected a plea offer,
Defendant's case was the first and only time he had
actually seen the State carry through with such a threat
following the entry of a guilty plea. Testimony was also
adduced that Defendant had been charged with involvement in a
homicide, but the State had dismissed the charges for lack of
evidence. That attorney also testified that the State's
offer of recommending a sentence of twenty years before the
pleas were taken was so high because the State felt that
Defendant "had beat a murder charge." Defendant also
pointed out to the trial court that the relevant statute,
La.R.S. 15:529.1, had been amended in 2017 to lessen the
minimum sentence for a fourth and subsequent nonviolent
offender from thirty years to twenty years. See 2017
La. Acts No. 82.
trial court again adjudicated Defendant a habitual offender.
The following discussion occurred:
Judge Davis. I'm sorry. Yeah. I'm just here just
asking for one more chance to show leniency, man. I just had
a two-week-old kid. And the things I did in the past, I
ain't going to do them no more, and I'm just asking
you for one more chance.
And, judge, I would like to -- my client's, also, father
is dying with stage 3 -- stage 4 cancer, judge. I just wanted
to point that out to the Court.
Well, I am convinced based on the testimony and based on, you
know, things -- information swirls around. Somehow, I
remember, some sort, along the way the hint or the suggestion
that the murder charge incident was driving a lot of the
activities in this case, you know, on these unrelated drug
charges. Plus we do have testimony from the last hearing that
-- from the attorney that confirmed that. That's very
troubling that that would be a driving force on unrelated
drug charges that are nonviolent.
I accept that, and that's part of my decision today to
maintain the prior 5 years DOC on all matters to run
concurrent, that along with the compelling argument made
regarding the change in the law.
Obviously, we can't go back and apply that retroactively,
but I wish we could because -- the legislature has done that
because it makes so much sense to reduce the timeline or
timeframe to allow or to prevent prosecutors from imposing
this Habitual Offender Law. And, finally, the obvious facts
that these are all drug related, they're not crimes of
violence, that is a compelling reason as well.
So I'm comfortable that this is appropriate, the right
thing to do. It's constitutionally mandated for the Court
to take note of all these matters and avoid an excessive
sentence under these circumstances. Okay?
And, Judge, just for the record, is he -- he's being
sentenced as to both charges, the possession of CDS II of
intent to distribute cocaine and --
Well, you know, on that matter, that's -- that's an
odd -- an odd set of circumstances. I don't -- pardon me?
Where are those other charges that we're talking about,
because the only thing we have is the third and subsequent --
Oh, I'm sorry.
-- habitual offender?
It's -- it's going to be under a different docket
number that he pled to.
What is it?
It's going to be under -- let's see -- docket No.
18591-14, that's what he had pled to, and then that was
the underlying --some of the underlying charges for the
habitual offender bill.
And then you --
-- a technical standpoint ...