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State v. Minnieweather

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 27, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
PAUL LYNN MINNIEWEATHER Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Morehouse, Louisiana Trial Court No. 16204F Honorable Carl Van Sharp, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Mary Constance Hanes Counsel for Appellant

          ROBERT STEPHEN TEW District Attorney JOHN PAUL SPIRES STEPHEN T. SYLVESTER Assistant District Attorneys Counsel for Appellee

          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         This criminal appeal by Paul Lynn Minnieweather arises from the Fourth Judicial District Court, Parish of Morehouse, State of Louisiana. Minnieweather pled guilty as charged to two counts of attempted second degree murder, violations of La. R.S. 14:30.1 and La. R.S. 14:27. On each count, he was sentenced to 50 years at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, to run concurrently and with credit for time served. Minnieweather now appeals his sentences. For the following reasons, we affirm his convictions and sentences.

         FACTS

         Minnieweather was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of attempted second degree murder, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1 and La. R.S. 14:27. The indictment shows that Minnieweather was charged with attempting to kill Sherquarius Moore and Kenneth Brown on March 13, 2016. After the original indictments were made, Kenneth Brown died from the injuries sustained during the shooting.

         Minnieweather appeared before the trial court and accepted the state's plea offer as follows. In exchange for Minnieweather's plea of guilty as charged on both counts, the state agreed not to upgrade the offense regarding Kenneth Brown to second degree murder. Additionally, the state recommended that the sentences be imposed to run concurrently. The sentences were otherwise left to the discretion of the trial court and Minnieweather was informed that the sentencing range was 10-50 years at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.

         The state provided the following factual basis for the plea. The victims, Moore and Brown, were married, but according to Minnieweather, he and Moore had an ongoing relationship. On March 13, 2016, Minnieweather approached the couple on a residential street in Bastrop, Louisiana. Brown was seated in his vehicle and Moore was nearby. Minnieweather shot Moore and Brown multiple times at close range. Moore survived the shooting and was able to identify Minnieweather as the shooter. Brown suffered two gunshot wounds to the neck, which rendered him a quadriplegic and left him unable to communicate.[1] Minnieweather turned himself in to police and gave a voluntary statement admitting that he shot both victims. Minnieweather gave officers the murder weapon, and the state's ballistic testing matched the gun to the shootings.

         Minnieweather confirmed to the trial court that he committed both shootings. Minnieweather stated that he had been in a relationship with Moore for four years, and he was hurt when he found Moore with Brown. Minnieweather admitted he shot the victims with a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson.

         The trial court advised Minnieweather of his right to a jury trial and his right to confront and cross-examine his accusers. The trial court also advised Minnieweather he had a right to appeal his sentence. Minnieweather told the trial court he had an 18-year-old child; he had no prior felony convictions; and, he had previously been employed. The trial court found Minnieweather guilty of both counts of attempted second degree murder and ordered a presentence investigation ("PSI") report.

         Minnieweather appeared for sentencing at a subsequent sentencing hearing. His trial counsel informed the trial court that after review of the PSI report, there were no objections. The trial court found that Minnieweather's criminal history, which included misdemeanor convictions for criminal damage to property and disturbing the peace by fighting, along with various arrests, was not particularly significant. The trial court observed that Minnieweather had no history of violence similar to the current offenses. However, the trial court found it significant in this case that Minnieweather shot two people and one of them died almost a year later as a result. The trial court stated that because Kenneth Brown's life was "irreparably altered as a result of the shooting" and he subsequently died, the trial court considered Minnieweather's action as "closer to a murder." The trial court noted that, as a result of the shooting, Brown had to live in assisted living until his death. The trial court observed that if Brown had not died or "had not been so grievously injured to the point that it permanently altered his life," the court's attitude regarding sentencing would not have found it needed to be "a more egregious or oppressive end of the sentence." The trial court also noted that Minnieweather shot Moore, his alleged girlfriend, eight times, and found that "apparently he meant to do it."

         The trial court recognized that the applicable sentencing range was 10-50 years at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Minnieweather then apologized to the trial court for his actions. The trial court noted its review of the PSI and sentenced Minnieweather on each count of attempted second degree murder to 50 years at hard labor, without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. The sentences were imposed to run concurrently. Minnieweather was given credit for time served and advised that ...


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