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State v. Mathis

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

April 3, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
THEODORE MATHIS

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 97-6378, DIVISION "F" HONORABLE MICHAEL P. MENTZ, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Darren A. Allemand

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, THEODORE MATHIS Bruce G. Whittaker

          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Jude G. Gravois, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          HANS J. LILJEBERG JUDGE.

         Defendant appeals his 99-year sentence as a fourth felony offender, which was imposed when he was resentenced pursuant to the ruling in State ex rel. Esteen v. State, 16-949 (La. 1/30/18), 239 So.3d 233. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's sentence, as amended, and we remand for correction of the uniform commitment order.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         In March of 1998, defendant was convicted by a jury on two counts of armed robbery in violation of La. R.S. 14:64. He was sentenced on each count to imprisonment at hard labor for 99 years without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, to run concurrently. After the State filed a multiple bill and the trial court found defendant to be a fourth-felony offender, the trial court vacated defendant's sentence on count one and resentenced him under the multiple bill statute to life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant filed an appeal.

         In June of 1999, this Court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences. The Louisiana Supreme Court thereafter denied writs. See State v. Mathis, 99-137 (La.App. 5 Cir. 6/1/99), 739 So.2d 1029 (unpublished opinion), writ denied, 99-2056 (La. 1/7/00), 752 So.2d 176. In the years that followed, defendant filed numerous post-conviction relief applications and motions to correct illegal sentence that were denied by the trial court and by this Court.

         On April 24, 2018, defendant filed another pro se motion to correct illegal sentence. In this motion, defendant asserted that under Esteen, supra, he was entitled to be resentenced under the more lenient penalty provisions enacted by 2001 La. Acts 403, which reduced the sentencing range for a fourth-felony offender under certain circumstances from a life sentence to "a determinate term not less than the longest prescribed for a first conviction but in no event less than twenty years and not more than his natural life."

         The State filed a response to the motion, in which it conceded that defendant was entitled to be resentenced under the ameliorative changes to the law enacted in Act No. 403 of 2001, but it argued that he was not entitled to be resentenced under any newer changes to the law. The State argued that the minimum sentence to which defendant could be resentenced was 99 years.

         On August 30, 2018, at the hearing on the motion to correct illegal sentence, defense counsel argued that under Esteen, supra, defendant was entitled to be resentenced. She also argued that under State v. Dorthey, 623 So.2d 1276 (La. 1993), the trial court should deviate from the mandatory minimum 99-year enhanced sentence and resentence defendant to a lesser sentence. She noted that defendant had obtained several certificates and completed numerous programs while incarcerated. Defense counsel also pointed out that defendant's family had residency and employment plans in place for defendant should he be released. She stated that a 99-year sentence would be unconstitutionally excessive, given that defendant had made a complete transformation while incarcerated.

         After counsel's argument, defendant addressed the court, stating that he had been "foolish" and had hurt a lot of people but that he was a changed man. Defendant asserted that he was 61 years old and had lost many family members while incarcerated. He further asserted that his life had changed, that he wanted to give back to society, and that he wanted to become a productive person.

         Following defendant's statement, the trial court granted the motion to correct illegal sentence, vacated its "earlier" sentence, and resentenced him to imprisonment at hard labor for 99 years without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The trial judge also commended defendant for the work and service he had done at Angola.

         Defense counsel then argued that defendant was entitled to parole eligibility under La. R.S. 15:529.1. The State replied that defendant's sentence should be without the benefit of parole because any sentence on the multiple bill must have the same restrictions as the underlying offense, which in the instant case was armed robbery. After hearing the arguments of counsel, the trial judge found that defendant was entitled to parole eligibility under the multiple offender statute, and he ordered the enhanced sentence to be served without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. For clarification, the trial court then stated that it was vacating the life sentence on count one and resentencing defendant as a fourth-felony offender to 99 years imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, to run concurrently with his sentence on ...


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