APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15, 42, DIVISION
"C" HONORABLE J. STERLING SNOWDY, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Bridget A.
Dinvaut, Justin B. LaCour.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, HENRI PIERRE LYLES Bertha M.
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and John
J. Molaison, Jr.
G. GRAVOIS JUDGE.
Henri Pierre Lyles, was convicted of aggravated battery. He
was adjudicated a third felony offender and was sentenced to
life imprisonment without the benefit of parole, probation,
or suspension of sentence. He now appeals his sentence,
arguing that he should have been sentenced as a second felony
offender under the 2017 changes to La. R.S. 15:529.1, and, in
the alternative, that his sentence is excessive. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's habitual
offender sentence and remand the matter for correction of the
sentencing minute entry and the Uniform Commitment Order as
set forth herein.
March 13, 2015, the St. John the Baptist Parish District
Attorney filed a bill of information charging defendant,
Henri Pierre Lyles, with aggravated battery in violation of
La. R.S. 14:34. After a jury trial on November 15-16, 2016,
defendant was convicted of aggravated battery. See State
v. Lyles, 17-405 (La.App. 5 Cir. 2/21/18), 239 So.3d
1055, 1056. On November 18, 2016, the State filed a habitual
offender bill of information against defendant, alleging that
he was a third felony offender with a 1991 predicate
conviction of distribution of cocaine and a 2004 predicate
conviction of manslaughter. The hearing on defendant's
habitual offender bill was held on February 13, 2017. During
the course of this hearing, the trial court sentenced
defendant for the aggravated battery conviction to eight
years imprisonment with the Department of Corrections and
imposed a $1, 000 fine. Id. After an evidentiary
hearing on the habitual offender bill, the trial court found
defendant to be a third felony offender and sentenced him to
life imprisonment without the benefit of parole, probation or
suspension of sentence in accordance with La. R.S.
15:529.1(A)(3)(b). Defendant filed a motion to reconsider his
sentence, which the trial court denied. Defendant's
original appeal followed. Id.
original appeal, this Court found that the trial court failed
to vacate defendant's original sentence for aggravated
battery before imposing defendant's habitual offender
sentence. As a result, it vacated defendant's habitual
offender sentence of life imprisonment without the benefit of
parole, probation, or suspension of sentence as a third
felony offender and remanded the matter for resentencing.
See State v. Lyles, 239 So.3d at 1057.
to this Court's directive, a resentencing hearing was
held on March 12, 2018. Prior to the imposition of
defendant's habitual offender sentence, defense counsel
argued that defendant should be sentenced under the
"new" habitual offender statute, which would reduce
his sentencing range as a third felony offender. Defense
counsel argued that current law was applicable since
defendant's previous habitual offender sentence was
vacated. The State responded that the Louisiana Supreme Court
has held that the habitual offender law in effect at the time
of the commission of the charged offense is applicable to a
habitual offender. The trial court agreed with the
State's position and stated that it would note the
defense's objection. The trial court then vacated
defendant's original sentence of eight years in the
Department of Corrections, recognizing that the State had met
its burden of proof during the habitual offender proceeding,
and sentenced defendant to life imprisonment without the
benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. On
March 28, 2018, defendant filed a timely motion for appeal,
which was granted on March 29, 2018.
facts set forth in this Court's published opinion are as
Defendant and Imani Wilson met in 1992 and were involved in a
relationship off and on for several years. In 2014, Ms.
Wilson agreed to allow defendant to stay with her for a
limited period of time. In January 2015, Ms. Wilson asked
defendant to leave and offered to help him find work and a
new residence. On February 1, 2015, defendant, Ms. Wilson,
and her two (2) children from another relationship were at
Ms. Wilson's home, and defendant informed Ms. Wilson that
he would move out that week. That same day, while Ms. Wilson
was in the kitchen cooking, defendant began staring at her
and continued to do so for an extended period. Eventually,
Ms. Wilson asked defendant why he was staring at her, and he
did not respond. Because defendant continued to stare at her,
she became nervous and warned her children who were home that
they should call 9-1-1 if they heard anything.
After some time had passed, defendant began to approach Ms.
Wilson and grabbed her by the throat with his left hand while
simultaneously reaching for a knife with his other hand. Ms.
Wilson pried defendant's fingers from her throat and ran
from him. She fell and defendant held her down and grabbed
her around the throat again. Defendant attempted to stab Ms.
Wilson, and she tried to block the knife. She eventually
blacked out and could not remember additional details. One of
Ms. Wilson's children heard the commotion and called
9-1-1. The police arrived at the house before defendant was
able to get away and arrested him for aggravated battery.
State v. Lyles, 239 So.3d at 1056.
OF ERROR NUMBER ONE
first assignment of error, defendant contends that the trial
court erred in sentencing him as a third felony offender.
Defendant argues that he should have been sentenced as a
second felony offender under the 2017 legislative changes to
La. R.S. 15:529.1, the habitual offender statute. According
to defendant, the language of 2017 La. Acts No. 282,
effective November 1, 2017, applies to him since his
conviction did not become final until February 21, 2018, the
date this Court rendered its decision in his first appeal.
Defendant suggests that under these new provisions, he is a
second felony offender since more than five years elapsed
between the expiration of correctional supervision of his
1991 predicate conviction of distribution of cocaine and the
commission of the underlying offense of aggravated battery.
He asserts that the ameliorative provisions of Act 282
applied to his case, and as such, his mandatory sentence of
life imprisonment would drastically be reduced as he would
thus face a sentencing range of 3.3 to 20 years imprisonment.
State responds that despite the language of Act 282, the
legislature has recently clarified that the courts should
apply the version of the habitual offender statute in effect
at the time of the commission of the underlying offense. The
State relies on the 2018 amendment to the habitual offender
statute, subsection K, in support of this contention and
argues that subsection K removes the prior confusion over the
applicability of the 2017 amendments to those offenders whose
cases were still on direct review.
2017, the habitual offender statute, La. R.S. 15:529.1, was
amended by 2017 La. Acts No. 257, § 1 and 2017 La. Acts
No. 282, § 1. Acts 257 and 282 both explicitly provide
that their provisions "shall become effective November
1, 2017, and shall have prospective application only to
offenders whose convictions became final on or after November
1, 2017." 2017 La. Acts 257, § 2; 2017 La. Acts
282, § 2. The relevant 2017 amendments to La. R.S.
15:529.1(A)(3)(b) removed persons with a current or prior
felony that was a violation of the Uniform Controlled
Dangerous Substance Law punishable for ten or more years from
the group of persons subject to a life sentence as a third
asserts that the 2017 version of the Habitual Offender Law
should apply to his case. Defendant's underlying felony
and one of his prior felonies, aggravated battery and
manslaughter, respectively, are both crimes of violence. His
1991 predicate conviction of distribution of cocaine is a
violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substance Law
punishable by ten or more years. See La. R.S.
40:967(B). Under the prior version of La. R.S.
15:529.1(A)(3)(b), defendant was subject to a mandatory
sentence of life imprisonment without benefits. Defendant
argues, however, that with the application of 2017
amendments, including the amended cleansing periods set forth
in La. R.S. 15:529.1(C)(1), he should have been adjudicated
as a second felony offender rather than a third felony
offender. If adjudicated as a second felony
offender, defendant would have faced a sentencing range of
3.3 to 20 years imprisonment under La. R.S. 15:529.1(A)(1).
present matter, defendant was convicted of aggravated battery
in violation of La. R.S. 14:34, and the State proved at trial
that the crime occurred on February 1, 2015. See State v.
Lyles, 239 So.3d at 1056. On November 18, 2016, the
State filed the habitual offender bill alleging that
defendant was a third felony offender. On February 13, 2017,
defendant was adjudicated as a third felony offender and was
sentenced to life imprisonment without benefits. Also on that
date, defendant filed a motion for an appeal, stating no
particular grounds, which was granted on February 16, 2017.
On appeal, defendant did not challenge his conviction: he
only assigned one error-that his habitual offender sentence
was constitutionally excessive. This Court rendered its
decision on February 21, 2018, finding that the trial court
failed to vacate defendant's original sentence and
remanded the matter for resentencing. See State v.
Lyles, supra. Defendant did not file a writ
application with the Louisiana Supreme Court. Thus,
defendant's underlying conviction became final under La.
C.Cr.P. art. 922 fourteen days after February 21, 2018,
when the delay for applying for a rehearing
La. R.S. 15:529.1 was revised in 2017 by Acts 257 and 282, it
is well settled law that habitual offender proceedings do not
charge a separate crime, but merely constitute ancillary
sentencing proceedings such that the punishment for a new
conviction is enhanced, and jurisprudence, including that of
this Court, has held that the sentence to be imposed is that
in effect at the time of the commission of the offense.
See State v. Parker, 03-924 (La. 4/14/04), 871 So.2d
317, 327 ("the punishment to be imposed on defendant, a
habitual offender, is that provided by La. R.S. 15:529.1 as
it existed on the date he committed the underlying
offense."); State v. Sugasti, 01-3407 (La.
6/21/02), 820 So.2d 518, 522 ("Everyone is presumed to
know the law, including the penalty provisions that apply. As
such, those who engage in criminal activity must face the
consequences of their actions, including the penalty
provisions that apply as of the date of the offense.");
State v. Williams, 03-571 (La.App. 5 Cir. 11/12/03),
862 So.2d 108, 119, writ denied, 04-0051 (La.
5/21/04), 874 So.2d 171 ("[T]his Court ...