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State v. Rathore

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 16, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
AMETHYST BAIRD RATHORE (AKA) AMETHYST S. BAIRD Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Morehouse, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2017-30F Honorable Carl Van Sharp, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Carey J. Ellis, III Counsel for Appellant

          ROBERT S. TEW Counsel for Appellee District Attorney

          JOHN G. SPIRES GEARY S. AYCOCK Assistant District Attorneys

          Before WILLIAMS, MOORE, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          MOORE, J.

         The defendant, Amethyst Baird Rathore, was charged by grand jury indictment with attempted first degree murder of Wildlife Enforcement Officer Tyler Wheeler. The indictment also charged Rathore with obstruction of justice, illegal possession of stolen things, and illegal possession of a stolen firearm. Rathore entered guilty pleas to all four charges pursuant to a plea agreement. In exchange for the plea, the state agreed to dismiss a pending obstruction of justice charge in Ouachita Parish. There was no agreement regarding Rathore's sentence, and the state advised that it would file an habitual offender bill in accord with La. R.S. 15:529.1.

         After the habitual offender hearing, Rathore was adjudicated a second-felony habitual offender based on her prior conviction for possession of methamphetamine. Following the sentencing hearing, the court sentenced Rathore to 60 years' imprisonment at hard labor for the attempted first degree murder conviction, 40 years' imprisonment for the obstruction of justice, 10 years' imprisonment for the illegal possession of stolen things, and 10 years' imprisonment for the illegal possession of a stolen firearm. All four sentences were imposed without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. The court subsequently signed a sentencing commitment order making the sentences concurrent with each other.[1]

         Rathore filed this appeal alleging that her sentences are excessive.

         After review, we amend three of the sentences to allow for parole eligibility as required by law, and, as amended, we affirm.

         FACTS

         At the sentencing hearing, the victim, Wildlife and Fisheries Agent Tyler Wheeler, testified that on January 7, 2017, he was working the 2:00 pm to 2:00 am shift with his partner, Agent John Hattaway. After their shift ended, the two agents traveled to their respective homes in separate vehicles. On his way home, at about 2:10 am, Agent Wheeler encountered a white Jeep erratically moving side to side in the outside lane, repeatedly hitting the center line and the outside shoulder line of the roadway. Since this occurred in an area outside of Bastrop where there are several bars, Wheeler suspected that the driver was impaired. He activated his blue emergency lights to initiate a stop. However, instead of stopping, the Jeep switched to the inside lane, turned off the road and looped through a grass field on the south side of a bar located on Gus Pryor Road. The Jeep came to a stop against a grill on the side of the building. Agent Wheeler followed and parked his vehicle some 5 to 7 feet behind the Jeep.

         Agent Wheeler approached the driver in the Jeep, whom he identified in court as Amethyst Rathore, and advised her why she had been stopped. She handed him an identification card, but it was for a juvenile, and Rathore was obviously not a juvenile. Agent Wheeler returned to his vehicle and performed a "Think Stream" check on the vehicle's license plate, which revealed the plate did not match a white Jeep. He notified dispatch of his findings. Agent Hattaway informed Agent Wheeler that he was en route to the scene.

         Due to Rathore's rapid speech pattern, quick movements, and impaired driving, Agent Wheeler walked up to the Jeep and asked ...


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