FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON,
NO. 90103 HONORABLE SCOTT WESTERCHIL, DISTRICT JUDGE
C. MARX LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: DESTIN REDER
ALLEN SKINNER DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 30TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
TERRY W. LAMBRIGHT FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL
FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: STATE OF LOUISIANA
composed of Billy Howard Ezell, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H.
HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.
September 21, 2016, Defendant, Destin Reder, was indicted for
the second degree murder of Samantha Johnson Reder, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:30.1. On January 25, 2019, Defendant
withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty
to manslaughter, in violation of La.R.S. 14:31. A presentence
investigation report (PSI) was ordered. Defendant was
sentenced on March 13, 2019, to serve forty years at hard
labor and given credit for time served. On March 15, 2019,
Defendant filed a Motion to Reconsider Sentence. The Motion
to Reconsider Sentence was denied on March 18, 2019. A Motion
for Appeal and Designation of Record was filed on March 26,
2019, which was granted. On appeal, Defendant asserts a
single assignment of error of excessive sentence. We find the
assignment of error lacks merit.
[O]n or about the date alleged in the bill of information,
this defendant had gotten off of work from McDonald's. He
had borrowed a vehicle from a neighbor, he and another person
went to get alcohol. They came back a couple of hours later.
The vehicle was returned to the person. He and Mrs. Reder,
Samantha Reder, the decedent in this case and victim, went
back to their home. It is alleged that the State can prove
that during that period of time that these two were in an
argument, that apparently they became involved in a physical
altercation and as a result of that physical altercation,
this defendant did strangle Mrs. Samantha Reder until she
stopped breathing and died. Subsequently, Your Honor, when
the police arrived, Mr. Reder gave a story different from
that and told the officers that this did not happen that way
and that she had taken an overdose. And, subsequently, as a
result of telling the EMT people that she had taken an
overdose, they treated it as if it was an overdose trying to
save her life and were unable to do so and she was deceased.
Later he admitted that they had been in an argument and that
he had choked her and she had died as a result of
strangulation and suffocation. This all occurring in Vernon
Parish on the date alleged in the bill of information when
that occurred, Your Honor.
Defendant did not agree with all of the factual basis offered
by the State, his counsel stated Defendant agreed to
"the basic fact that Mr. Reder and his wife were in an
argument that resulted in a physical altercation where he
strangled her resulting in her death[.]"
accordance with La.Code Crim.P. art. 920, all appeals are
reviewed for errors patent on the face of the record. After
reviewing the record, we find there are no errors patent.
sole assignment of error, Defendant contends that the
sentence imposed by the trial court is excessive. As noted
above, Defendant filed a Motion to Reconsider Sentence, which
alleged the sentence of forty years was excessive as it
"is grossly disproportionate to the seriousness of the
offense, makes no measurable contribution to acceptable goals
of punishment, and is nothing more than the purposeless
imposition of pain and suffering." The motion also
alleged that the sentence was a manifest abuse of discretion
and that the trial court failed to adequately consider
applicable mitigating circumstances; however, the motion did
not specify which mitigating circumstances the trial court
should have considered.
pled guilty to manslaughter, which is punishable by
imprisonment at hard labor for not more than forty years.
Thus, Defendant received the maximum sentence. La.R.S. 14:31.
sentencing, the court heard or received victim impact
statements from the victim's great aunt, Cynthia Smith;
the victim's mother, CaTina Fulton; Defendant's
sister, Avonda Reder; Defendant's cousin, Kyra Dubose;
Defendant's aunt, Sylvia L. Garner; and Defendant's
uncle, Danny Garner. One of the letters offered by Defendant
is not signed and does not indicate the name of the writer or
his/her relationship to Defendant.
Smith, who spoke at sentencing, stated that the lives of the
victim's and Defendant's son and Defendant's two
step-children were destroyed. The children were in
counseling, and the children were not doing well.
Fulton explained how her life drastically changed as a result
of her having to raise her grandchildren; that her daughter,
the victim, called her every morning and texted her
throughout the day; that her daughter and her son were her
best friends; and ...