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December 20, 2008

Monroe murder conviction upheld [criminal case]

The Monroe News-Star reports:
The conviction and sentence of a Shreveport man convicted and sentenced to three life terms plus another 50 years for killing three people when he intentionally ran his car into a vehicle was affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Background here and here. Essentially,
Jatazz Warren caused the wreck intentionally while trying to kill himself and his girlfriend, Lamesha Anderson, who was a passenger in his car.

James and Patricia Shalala of Ohio, who were headed to Fort Polk to see their son before he deployed to war, died at the scene of the March 2006 accident on U.S. 165 in Monroe. Their granddaughter, 11-year-old Halle Gibson, died later at a hospital in Shreveport. Halle's mother, Maureen, was seriously injured.

Warren's [ex-]girlfriend, Lamesha Anderson, is wheelchair-bound and suffered brain damage. Eyewitnesses said they saw her trying to jump out of the PT Cruiser before the collision.
(Quoted material comes from both stories.)

The Second Circuit's opinion can be found here.

Warren assigned six points of error on appeal - two related to pre-trial procedure, three related to the trial, and one related to sentencing.

Pre-trial. Warren said the trial court should have granted his motion for change of venue (pp.17-20) and struck certain jurors for cause (pp.11-17).

Trial. Warren said that [1] the court should not have admitted evidence related to "other crimes, wrongs, or acts" (La. C.E. art. 404(B)) (pp.21-24), [2] that the court should have granted a mistrial because of improper statements made by the prosecutor during closing arguments (pp.25-27), and [3] that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction (pp.7-11).

Sentencing. Finally, he argued that the sentence was excessive (pp.27-30).

This strikes me as exceptionally silly: he was convicted of three counts of second degree murder, and a conviction for second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life. See La. R.S. 14:30.1(B). He was sentenced to serve three consecutive life sentences (plus 50 years for one count of attempted second degree murder, because Lamesha Anderson didn't die). What possible relief court the court grant should it have found the sentence to be 'excessive'? Let him serve them concurrently, instead of consecutively?

I suppose, ultimately, it's a problem with the way the law is written. But, silly, nonetheless. Posted by MBC at December 20, 2008 01:28 PM
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