Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lyles

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 27, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
HENRI PIERRE LYLES

          ON 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. Hillman.

          Panel composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and John J. Molaison, Jr.

          JUDE G. GRAVOIS JUDGE.

         Defendant, 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.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On 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[1] 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.

         On 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.

         According 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

         The facts set forth in this Court's published opinion are as follows:

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.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NUMBER ONE

         In his 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.

         The 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.

         In 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 felony offender.

         Defendant 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.[2] 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).

         In the 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[3] fourteen days after February 21, 2018, when the delay for applying for a rehearing expired.[4]

         While 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.