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State v. Rathore

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 27, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
AMETHYST BAIRD RATHORE Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 16F1111; 16F2934 Honorable Clarence Wendell Manning, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Douglas L. Harville Counsel for Appellant.

          ROBERT STEPHEN TEW District Attorney HOLLY A. CHAMBERS-JONES Assistant District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.

          Before BROWN, PITMAN, and STONE, JJ.

          BROWN, C.J.

         Defendant, Amethyst Baird Rathore, pled guilty to illegal possession of stolen things, in violation of La. R.S. 14:69, and possession of methamphetamines, in violation of La. R.S. 40:967, and she was sentenced to ten years at hard labor as to each of the two charges, which were ordered to run consecutively. She has appealed from the trial court's sentencing enhancement under La. R.S. 40:982 as violating her plea agreement or, alternatively, as rendering her guilty plea involuntary. Defendant also challenges as excessive her sentences for both charges. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS

         On April 28, 2016, law enforcement officers received a call regarding a burglary at a rental house. While checking the property, the owner encountered Defendant inside the house. Defendant fled the scene, but was identified by a witness and apprehended by officers at her residence. Officers obtained a search warrant for Defendant's house and discovered several items in Defendant's garage that had been stolen from the rental house. On August 4, 2016, she was charged by bill of information with illegal possession of stolen things, with a value exceeding $1, 500, and criminal trespass in Trial Court Docket No. 16-F1111. At arraignment, Defendant pled not guilty and was later granted bail.

         On November 4, 2016, while out on bail, Defendant was involved in a two-car collision on Louisville Avenue in Monroe, Louisiana. Defendant rear-ended the other person's vehicle and then fled the scene. According to Defendant, she drove into the adjacent Burger King parking lot to "get out of the road." Officers with the Monroe Police Department approached her. They reported that Defendant left her vehicle and approached another witness in the same parking lot, demanding to know who hit her car. Officers also reported that Defendant appeared disoriented, and her speech was slurred. During the booking process, officers discovered a white substance on a folded dollar bill found in Defendant's pocket; this substance later tested positive for methamphetamine. On December 2, 2016, Defendant was charged by bill of information with possession of methamphetamines, hit-and-run, and having no driver's license in her possession, in Trial Court Docket No. 16-F2934. Defendant also pled not guilty to these charges. Defendant was released on bond.

         On January 7, 2017, Defendant was arrested in Morehouse Parish for attempted first degree murder of a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent.

         On March 2, 2017, the State amended the bill of information in both docket numbers in Ouachita. Defendant withdrew her previous pleas of not guilty under both docket numbers and pled guilty as charged to illegal possession of stolen things and possession of methamphetamines. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges of criminal trespass, hit-and-run, and driving without a license.[1] The State further noted that that a presentence investigation (PSI) would be ordered in both cases prior to Defendant's sentencing. During her guilty plea colloquy, the trial court informed Defendant of her Boykin rights as well as the possibility of being charged as a habitual offender in the future. Lastly, the trial court advised Defendant of the penalties for the crimes to which she was pleading guilty, noting that the trial court had the right to sentence Defendant to the maximum sentence the law would allow.

         On August 23, 2017, the State filed a motion to invoke sentencing guidelines pursuant to La. R.S. 40:982(A), seeking to sentence Defendant for possession of methamphetamines, second offense. In its motion, the State argued that enhancement of Defendant's sentence was appropriate as she had previously been convicted of the same offense on December 3, 2007. A hearing on the motion was held on the same day. Defense counsel did not oppose this motion orally or in writing.

         The trial court granted the motion in a written ruling at the sentencing hearing on September 6, 2017. The State then recommended that Defendant be sentenced to the maximum sentences permissible under the law and that the sentences run consecutively. After reviewing the PSI, the trial court sentenced Defendant to serve ten years at hard labor for possession of methamphetamines and ten years at hard labor for illegal possession of stolen things; the sentences were ordered to run consecutively, with credit for time served. The trial court also ordered Defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $2, 500 to the victim of the burglary. No restitution was awarded to the victim that Defendant hit with her vehicle because this victim has since filed a tort claim. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentence on October 2, 2017, which was denied.

         The instant appeal followed. This Court consolidated both matters on its own motion because they share the same guilty plea and sentencing transcripts.

         DISCUSSION

         Guilty ...


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