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State v. Arceneaux

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

April 24, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
DARRYL ARCENEAUX

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 98-1000, DIVISION "I" HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, JUDGE PRESIDING

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

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, DARRYL ARCENEAUX Kevin V. Boshea

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Marc E. Johnson, and Robert A. Chaisson

          MARC E. JOHNSON JUDGE

         In this second appeal, Defendant challenges his 55-year sentence as a third felony offender, which was imposed after a resentencing hearing conducted in accordance with State ex rel. Esteen v. State of Louisiana, 16-949 (La. 1/30/18); 239 So.3d 233, as excessive. After review, we find that his enhanced 55-year sentence is unconstitutionally excessive and, therefore, we vacate his enhanced sentence and remand the matter for resentencing.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant was convicted by a jury in November 1998 of distribution of cocaine in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A) and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment at hard labor. In October 1999, he was adjudicated a third felony offender based on two predicate convictions - a 1994 conviction for theft over $500 (La. R.S. 14:67) and a 1992 conviction for simple robbery (La. R.S. 14:65). His original sentence was vacated, and he was resentenced under the multiple offender statute to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. State v. Arceneaux, 99-1226 (La.App. 5 Cir. 2/29/00); 761 So.2d 833 (unpublished opinion).

         On May 25, 2018, Defendant filed a pro se motion to correct illegal sentence, arguing that his enhanced life sentence was illegal in light of the ameliorative provisions provided in 2001 La. Acts 403. He argued that the ameliorative provisions retroactively applied to him through La. R.S. 15:308 as explained by the Louisiana Supreme Court in Esteen, supra. After considering Defendant's motion, the district court determined that Defendant was entitled to a resentencing hearing, which was held on July 26, 2018. At the resentencing hearing, the district court resentenced Defendant to 55 years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider the sentence on the basis it was excessive, which was denied. This appeal follows.

         ISSUE

         On appeal, Defendant challenges the district court's denial of his motion to reconsider sentence, arguing that his new 55-year enhanced sentence is overly harsh, illegally excessive, and per se unconstitutional.[1] He asserts that under the newer changes to the sentencing laws made by 2017 La. Acts 257 and 282, the sentencing range for a third felony offender with his underlying offense and predicate offenses is 15 to 60 years. He contends that his near maximum sentence is excessive, considering that his underlying offense was based on a single sale of cocaine in the amount of $20.00.

         FACTS

         The facts of Defendant's underlying conviction were set forth in this Court's unpublished opinion in the first appeal. In summary, on October 4, 1996, an undercover officer went to the area of Highway 90 and Glendella Street in Avondale where he stopped his truck and made contact with a black male, asking the man if he had any crack cocaine. The man told him that he did, went and obtained something from the back of a store located in the area, and returned to the truck. The man handed the officer a substance later identified as crack cocaine in exchange for a $20.00 bill. The transaction was videotaped and Defendant was subsequently identified as the man on the videotape. As a result, in November 1998, Defendant was convicted of distribution of cocaine in violation of La. ...


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