FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF IBERIA,
NO. 07-000681 HONORABLE EDWARD LEONARD, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE
Bofill Duhe District Attorney W. Claire Howington Assistant
District Attorney Counsel for Appellee: State of Louisiana
Richard A. Spears Attorney At Law Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: Ruffin Stokes
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M.
Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.
April 5, 2007, Defendant, Ruffin Stokes, was charged with
armed robbery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:64. A jury trial
commenced on February 8, 2010, following which Defendant was
found guilty as charged. Defendant was sentenced on April 19,
2010, to seventy-five years at hard labor without the benefit
of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant,
pro se, timely filed a Motion to Reconsider Sentence. Several
weeks later, on May 21, 2010, defense counsel filed a Motion
to Reconsider Sentence or, Alternatively, Notice of Appeal.
Following a July 30, 2010 hearing, the trial court denied
Defendant's motions to reconsider sentence. On June 1, 2016,
Defendant filed a "Motion to Set Status Conference"
to determine the status of the "unperfected appeal which
was filed in this matter on May 21, 2010." At the
conclusion of an August 10, 2016 hearing, the trial court
granted Defendant an out-of-time appeal without objection by
is now before this court asserting in his sole assignment of
error that the trial court's imposition of seventy-five
years imprisonment was constitutionally excessive. He argues
that the trial court "did not sufficiently take into
account mitigating factors nor did it appropriately tailor
the sentence to the defendant for the crime committed."
For the following reasons, we vacate Defendant's sentence
and remand this matter to the trial court for resentencing.
facts of this matter, which are uncontested for purposes of
this appeal, were recited in the State's appellee brief:
On December 21, 2006, Charles and Angela Fus[i]lier were
working at their hair salon. Three men with their faces
covered rushed into the salon, waiving guns and demanding
money. Although his face was covered, Charles and Angela
recognized the defendant, Ruffin Stokes. The defendant
pointed his gun at Angela and demanded money. Angela tried to
give him what she had, but the defendant pointed the gun at
Charles, who threw whatever cash he had in his pocket at the
defendant. When Charles could not comply with the
defendant's demand for more money, the defendant pointed
his gun at Charles' and Angela's three-year-old son.
Charles testified that he would rather have died than let the
defendant kill his son. Charles tackled the defendant, and,
during the struggle, the gun went off, firing a shot into the
State v. James, 15-414, pp. 2-4 (La.App. 3 Cir.
10/7/15), 175 So.3d 1176, 1178, writs denied,
15-2059 (La. 1/9/17), 208 So.3d 876, and 15-2044 (La.
1/9/17), 214 So.3d 858, this court discussed the standard for
reviewing excessive sentence claims, as follows:
[Louisiana Constitution Article] I, § 20 guarantees
that, "[n]o law shall subject any person to cruel or
unusual punishment." To constitute an excessive
sentence, the reviewing court must find the penalty so
grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime as to
shock our sense of justice or that the sentence makes no
measurable contribution to acceptable penal goals and is,
therefore, nothing more than a needless imposition of pain
and suffering. The trial court has wide discretion in the
imposition of sentence within the statutory limits and such
sentence shall not be set aside as excessive absent a
manifest abuse of discretion. The relevant question is
whether the trial court abused its broad sentencing
discretion, not whether another sentence might have been more
State v. Barling, 00-1241, 00-1591, p. 12 (La.App. 3
Cir. 1/31/01), 779 So.2d 1035, 1042, writ denied,
01-838 (La.2/1/02), 808 So.2d 331 (citations omitted).
. . . .
though a penalty falls within the statutory sentencing range,
it may ...