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State v. Ducote

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 18, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
JESSE E. DUCOTE A/K/A JESSE DUCOTE

          APPEAL FROM THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF AVOYELLES, NO. 2018-CR-205930-B HONORABLE WILLIAM J. BENNETT, DISTRICT JUDGE

          George L. Higgins, III COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellant - Jesse E. Ducote a/k/a Jesse Ducote

          Charles A. Riddle, III District Attorney - Twelfth Judicial District COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - State of Louisiana

          Anthony F. Salario First Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - State of Louisiana

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE

         Defendant, Jesse Ducote, was indicted for one count of negligent homicide of Jake Ducote in violation of La.R.S. 14:32. On the day set for trial, he entered a plea of guilty, and the trial court ordered a Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI). Following the sentencing hearing, Jesse[1] was sentenced to the maximum of five years imprisonment. He filed a motion to reconsider sentence alleging that the sentence was excessive. A resentencing hearing was conducted, and the five-year sentence was affirmed.

         On appeal, Jesse asserts that the maximum sentence is excessive and should be reduced. For the following reasons, this court affirms the five-year sentence.

         I.

         ISSUES

         We must decide whether the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Jesse Ducote to the maximum sentence of five years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections for the crime of negligent homicide.

         II.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 21, 2017, Jesse spent the day with his good friend Jake. The two young men ran various errands together, which included shooting an AR-15 rifle recently purchased by Jesse at a gun show. Some time that evening, Jesse arrived at the home Jake shared with his girlfriend Mallory Lambert. While Jake was sitting in the living room, Jesse went outside to his truck and took out the gun which he and Jake had shot earlier that day. The gun fired, and a bullet went through the window, hitting and killing Jake. Ms. Lambert was standing in the kitchen when she heard the gunshot and Jesse screaming to call 911. Initially, Jesse stated that the gun fell out of his truck and accidentally discharged. However, Jesse eventually admitted that he and Jake were "goofing off" through the window, and believing that the gun was unloaded, Jesse pointed the gun at Jake and pulled the trigger.

         The Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation of the incident, and arrested Jesse for the negligent homicide of Jake. A grand jury returned a true bill of indictment charging Jesse with one count of negligent homicide, after which he entered a plea of not guilty. On the day trial was set to begin, Jesse withdrew his plea and entered a plea of guilty to the offense of negligent homicide. The court ordered a PSI and remanded Jesse for sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court reviewed the PSI, letters received on behalf of Jesse, letters from Jake's family, and the police report. The trial court sentenced Jesse to serve five years in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections with credit for time ...


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