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State v. Sheppard

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 15, 2020

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
RICKY R. SHEPPARD Appellant

          Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 61, 623 Honorable Parker Self, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          J. SCHUYLER MARVIN District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          JOHN M. LAWRENCE Assistant District Attorney

          Before GARRETT, STONE, and THOMPSON, JJ.

          GARRETT, J.

         In 1985, the defendant, Ricky Sheppard, pled guilty to first degree murder for an offense he committed as a juvenile and was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.[1] Following the rendition of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), he sought resentencing. Subsequently, the trial court amended his sentence to allow for parole eligibility. The defendant appeals. We affirm.

         FACTS

         In 1984, the defendant and Johnny A. Smead were indicted for the offense of first degree murder in the death of Harold W. Moore. Although the record before us contains few details about the offense, the following facts were asserted in the defendant's 2013 "Motion to Vacate or Correct an Illegal Sentence": the defendant was 16 years old and Smead was 15 years old when they committed a burglary of Mr. Moore's residence in August 1984. Mr. Moore, who was 61 years old, returned home and, during an ensuing struggle, was fatally stabbed. The boys fled in Mr. Moore's vehicle. The knife used to kill Mr. Moore was subsequently found in the vehicle, along with items taken from his home. In January 1985, the defendant pled guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

         In 2012, the United States Supreme Court held in Miller that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes.

         In April 2013, the defendant filed a pro se "Motion to Vacate or Correct an Illegal Sentence." He argued that, in light of the Miller decision, his life sentence without the possibility of parole should be reconsidered. He further asserted that he had rehabilitated himself during his incarceration and attached documentation showing his participation in and/or completion of numerous programs and classes. He requested modification of his sentence to a term of less than life imprisonment.

         The trial court ordered the state to respond to the motion. In its answer, the state argued that the jurisprudence did not allow a retroactive application of Miller on collateral attack. It requested a stay pending a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court in the case of State v. Darryl Tate, which was due to address whether Miller was retroactive on collateral review. The trial court granted the stay on June 25, 2013.

         The defendant filed a motion for appointment of counsel. The trial court granted the motion in November 2013, and appointed the Public Defender Office.

         In Montgomery v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599, (2016), the United State Supreme Court held that Miller announced a substantive rule of constitutional law, which was to be applied retroactively in ...


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