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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 16, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
REGINALD WILLIAMS

          APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 275-987, SECTION "0" Honorable Karen K. Herman, Judge

          Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney Donna Andrieu, Assistant District Attorney William R. Dieters, Assistant District Attorney ORLEANS PARISH COUNSEL FOR STATE OF LOUISIANA/APPELLEE

          Sherry Watters LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

          Court composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods

          SANDRA CABRINA JENKINS, JUDGE

         Defendant's appeal arises from a resentencing pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012). Based on applicable law and jurisprudence, we find that the trial court imposed a legal sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. Accordingly, defendant's sentence is affirmed.

         STATEMENT OF CASE[1]

         Reginald Williams ("Williams") and two others - Alonzo Walton and Lester R. Allen - were charged with the March 16, 1980 first degree murder of Charles Millet, a violation of La. RS. 14:30. Williams was a minor on the date of the murder. On August 28, 1980, a jury found Williams guilty as charged. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence on September 12, 1980. This Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. State v. Williams, So.2d(La.App. 4 Cir. 1980) (unpub.). Williams was unsuccessful in his efforts to obtain collateral relief until the U.S. Supreme Court issued Montgomery v. Louisiana, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), holding that its previous holding in Miller, supra, applied retroactively. Miller held that "the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders" absent taking "into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison." 567 U.S. at 479-80, 132 S.Ct. at 2469.

         Williams filed a motion to correct illegal sentence based on Miller on September 11, 2012. After the Louisiana Supreme Court granted writs to deny relief, see State v. Williams, 2013-0100 (La. 6/20/14), 141 So.3d 805 (rejecting relief based on finding Miller did not apply retroactively), Williams filed an application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He also filed another motion to correct illegal sentence based on Miller and Montgomery on May 2, 2016. Subsequent to staying the federal suit, pending the issuance of Montgomery, on July 18, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued the following order:

For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that Petitioner is entitled to relief from his unconstitutional sentence. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the State's objection is OVERRULED;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's recommendation;
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner Reginald Williams's application for habeas corpus relief is GRANTED, that his sentence of life imprisonment without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence is VACATED, and that the state trial court is ORDERED to resentence Petitioner in conformity with Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012), ...

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