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State v. Reder

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 18, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
DESTIN REDER AKA- DESTIN NATHANIEL REDER

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERNON, NO. 90103 HONORABLE SCOTT WESTERCHIL, DISTRICT JUDGE

          PAULA C. MARX LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: DESTIN REDER

          ASA ALLEN SKINNER DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 30TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT TERRY W. LAMBRIGHT FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: STATE OF LOUISIANA

          Court composed of Billy Howard Ezell, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         On 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.

         FACTS

[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.

         Although 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[.]"

         ERRORS PATENT

         In 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.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         In his 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.

         Defendant 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.

         At 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.

         Cynthia 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.

         CaTina 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 ...


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