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Edwards v. State

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

June 4, 2019

ANTONIO EDWARDS
v.
STATE OF LOUISIANA IN RE ANTONIO EDWARDS

          APPLYING FOR SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA, DIRECTED TO THE HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, DIVISION "I", NUMBER 11-1881

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Stephen J. Windhorst, and John J. Molaison, Jr.

         WRIT GRANTED; MATTER REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS

         In this pro se criminal writ application, relator seeks review of the trial court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Because we find a discrepancy between the sentencing minute entry and the sentencing transcript as to relator's enhanced sentence as a multiple offender, we grant relator's writ and remand this matter for correction of the sentencing minute entry and commitment.

         The official record reflects that, on June 24, 2011, relator pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of La. R.S. 14:95.1 (count one), possession with the intent to distribute cocaine in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(A) (count two), possession of heroin over twenty-eight grams in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(D)(1)(A) (count three), and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(A) (count four). On that date, the trial court sentenced relator to fifteen years imprisonment at hard labor on each count. Id. The trial court ordered that the sentence on count one be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence; the first two years of the sentence on count two be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence; and imposed a fine of $50, 000 as to count three. Id. Additionally, the district court ordered the sentences on counts one, two, three, and four to run concurrently with each other. Id.

         The official record further reflects that, on June 24, 2011, the State also filed a multiple offender bill of information alleging defendant to be a second felony offender. On that date, relator stipulated to the multiple bill. The trial judge adjudicated relator as a second felony offender under La. R.S. 15:529.1, vacated relator's sentence on count four, and resentenced relator to fifteen years imprisonment. The June 24, 2011 minute entry states, "Count #1 and Count #4 are without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence." Id.

         On March 14, 2019, relator filed a Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence with the district court pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. art. 882, asking the trial court to correct his sentence in order to remove the restriction of parole eligibility.[1] In the motion, relator claimed that neither the applicable sentencing statute for the underlying offense of possession with the intent to distribute marijuana nor the habitual offender statute restricted parole eligibility and, thus, he sought to have the trial court amend his sentence to delete the parole restriction. The trial judge denied relator's motion.

         At the time of the underlying offense, the sentencing statute for a conviction for possession with intent to distribute marijuana, La. R.S. 40:966, instructed that a defendant faced a sentence "to a term of imprisonment at hard labor for not less than five nor more than thirty years," with no restriction of benefits. Furthermore, at that time, La. R.S. 15:529.1(G) provided, "Any sentence imposed under the provisions of this Section shall be at hard labor without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence." When a defendant is sentenced as a habitual offender, the penalty increase is computed by reference to the sentencing provisions of the underlying offense. See, State v. Bruins, 407 So.2d 685, 687 (La. 1981). In this case, neither the underlying offense nor the enhanced sentence required the imposition of a parole restriction. While the guilty plea form does not indicate that the sentence was to be served with the restriction of parole eligibility, the June 24, 2011 sentencing minute entry reflects that the sentences on counts one and four are to be served without the benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

         Upon review of relator's writ application, this Court ordered the sentencing transcript from relator's multiple offender sentencing hearing to determine whether the sentencing minute entry in fact reflected relator's accurate sentence, as imposed by the trial judge at sentencing. Where a discrepancy exists between the transcript and the minute entry, the transcript prevails. State v. Lynch, 441 So.2d 732. The writ application was supplemented with a copy of relator's multiple offender adjudication and sentencing. A review of the transcript reflects that the trial judge, in sentencing relator as a multiple offender, properly sentenced relator to "fifteen years without benefit of probation or suspension of sentence," with no parole restriction.

         Accordingly, we find the sentencing minute entry and commitment are inconsistent with the sentencing transcript and must be corrected. We therefore grant this writ application and remand this matter to the trial court for correction of minute entry and commitment to remove the parole restriction from relator's sentence on his enhanced multiple offender sentence to accurately reflect relator's sentence as imposed by the trial judge at sentencing. Furthermore, the Clerk of Court for the 24th Judicial District Court is ordered to transmit the commitment to the officer in charge of the institution to which relator has been sentenced and to the Department of Corrections' Legal Department.

         FHW

         SJW

         JJM

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