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State v. Gaines

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 27, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
TROY DONELL GAINES Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 11F3271 Honorable Carl Van Sharp, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Carey J. EllisCounsel for Appellant

          ROBERT STEPHEN TEW District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          SHIRLEY M. WILSON DAVIS Assistant District Attorney

          Before MOORE, GARRETT, and STEPHENS, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         This criminal appeal by Troy Donell Gaines[1] arises from the Fourth Judicial District Court, Ouachita Parish, State of Louisiana. Following a jury trial, Gaines was convicted of manslaughter, in violation of La. R.S. 14:31, and subsequently adjudicated a second-felony habitual offender and sentenced to 50 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Gaines filed a motion to reconsider sentence, which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, Gaines challenges the imposed habitual offender sentence, claiming it is excessive. For the following reasons, Gaines's sentence, as amended, is affirmed.

         FACTS

         On December 6, 2011, Chandrikia Green was found shot to death and barricaded in the closet of the apartment she shared with Gaines at Glenwood Townhomes in West Monroe, Louisiana. Gaines was subsequently arrested and charged by bill of indictment with second degree murder, in violation of La. R.S. 14:30.1. Following a jury trial, on March 27, 2017, Gaines was found guilty of the responsive verdict of manslaughter and subsequently sentenced to the maximum sentence of 40 years at hard labor. Gaines's conviction and sentence were affirmed in State v. Gaines, 51, 985 (La.App. 2 Cir. 4/11/18), 247 So.3d 1061.[2] On June 6, 2017, the state filed a habitual offender bill of information based upon Gaines's manslaughter conviction and a prior simple burglary conviction on April 21, 2005, for which Gaines received a sentence of five years at hard labor, suspended, and five years' probation.[3]

         The habitual offender adjudication hearing began on June 29, 2018. The state presented testimony from Eddie Keyes, one of the Probation and Parole officers who had supervised Gaines in the past. Officer Keyes identified Gaines in open court and testified that Gaines was placed on probation for a period of five years on April 21, 2005, in Madison Parish docket number 106294, after receiving a five-year, hard labor sentence for simple burglary that was suspended. He further testified that Probation and Parole issued a warrant for Gaines's arrest on August 24, 2009, for absconding supervision. The warrant as well as the bill of information for the prior simple burglary conviction referenced by Ofc. Keyes were offered by the state and admitted into evidence. A certified copy of the court minutes of Gaines's guilty plea to simple burglary was also offered and admitted. The state had requested a Boykin transcript for Gaines's simple burglary plea, but it was not ready at the time of the hearing, so the trial court left the record open to allow the state to introduce additional information, and the matter was reset.

         On July 25, 2018, the state resumed the habitual offender hearing and the Boykin transcript of the simple burglary charge was offered and admitted into evidence. The trial court subsequently adjudicated Gaines a second-felony offender, vacated the previous 40-year sentence for manslaughter, and sentenced Gaines as a second-felony offender to 50 years at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

         In a motion to reconsider sentence, Gaines asserted the trial court did not adequately consider that the jury's verdict was based upon evidence presented at trial that Chandrikia was having an affair and that provocation is a mitigating factor for sentencing. The trial court denied the motion to reconsider sentence without reasons. This appeal by Gaines ensued.

         DISCUSSION

         Gaines's sole assignment of error is that the sentence imposed on him as a second-felony offender is cruel and excessive. Specifically, Gaines argues that the trial court failed to consider mitigating factors during sentencing ...


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