Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for
the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 222, 009
Honorable Gay C. Gaskins, Judge Pro Tempore
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Douglas Lee Harville Counsel for
SCHUYLER MARVIN District Attorney JOHN MICHAEL LAWRENCE DALE
NEWTON MONTGOMERY II Assistant District Attorneys Counsel for
WILLIAMS, STONE, and McCALLUM, JJ.
case currently before this Court, a domestic dispute turned
violent between a sister and her brother, arises out of a
seemingly inconsequential act, i.e., the
unauthorized erasure by the former of a television program
previously recorded by the latter.
defendant, Gerwanna Austin ("Austin"), having pled
guilty as charged to aggravated battery, appeals her sentence
of eight years as excessive. We affirm her conviction and
November 12, 2016, Austin and her brother, Brandon, began
arguing after Austin erased a television program that Brandon
had recorded. Austin, who became angry when Brandon called
her names, waited for him to come inside the house from his
yard work and then she stabbed him in the neck with a kitchen
knife. Austin was 26 years old at the time.
was charged by bill of information with one count of
aggravated battery, in violation of La. R.S. 14:34. On May
15, 2017, Austin accepted the state's offer to plead
guilty as charged in exchange for the state's agreement
not to file an habitual offender bill. She was informed that
the applicable sentencing range was 0-10 years and that a
presentence investigation (PSI) report would be ordered.
PSI, which incorrectly stated that Austin pled guilty to
aggravated assault, showed that she was born October 21,
1990, and finished high school at age 20. Austin never held a
job and relied on family members for financial assistance.
Austin was not married and had no children. She denied any
alcohol or substance abuse. In her statement for the PSI,
Austin showed remorse and said, "I'm willing to take
anger management. I apologize for my actions and I know that
I need to learn to walk away from things."
criminal history included an arrest for aggravated second
degree battery in 2014 when she stabbed her uncle during an
argument about her discipline of her niece and nephew. This
argument also turned physical and the uncle grabbed her by
the hair and put her on the ground. Using a kitchen knife,
Austin stabbed the uncle in the back and chest. She pled
guilty on September 29, 2015, to a reduced charge of
attempted second degree battery and was sentenced on December
1, 2015, to serve 18 months.
appeared for sentencing on the current conviction August 23,
2017. The judge stated that she had reviewed
Austin's guilty plea transcript and confirmed that Austin
pled guilty to aggravated battery. The judge also stated that
she had reviewed the factual basis for the guilty plea,
Austin's PSI report, and the sentencing guidelines in
La.C.Cr.P. art. 894.1.
judge noted that Austin stabbed her brother in the neck four
times with a large kitchen knife when he entered the house to
wash his hands following their argument. The judge also noted
Austin's prior conviction for attempted second degree
battery when she stabbed her uncle in the back and chest
after an argument. The judge observed that Austin's
behavior indicated that she had anger issues and was in need
of custodial treatment. Austin had committed two intentional
crimes against victims when their backs were turned, and the
judge was concerned that Austin would commit other crimes.
The judge recognized that Austin was 26 years old, and hoped
that she would become calmer and more patient as she aged.
Citing Austin's aggressive manner and her ...