Decisions handed down on first degree murder cases from Evangeline Parish

The Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles handed down Wednesday opinions in two first degree murder cases on appeal from Evangeline Parish.
In the case against Samuel Anderson, who was convicted by a jury in March for killing a Ville Platte business owner during a robbery, the Court of Appeal tossed the conviction for armed robbery. According to the decision, the “convictions for both first degree murder and armed robbery violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy, as the robbery was the act that elevated the homicide to first degree murder.”
While Anderson’s conviction and sentence of a consecutive 50-year term on the armed robbery is vacated, the conviction and sentence of life in prison on the first degree murder still stands.
The convictions against Reokenski Thomas stand as well, but his matter was sent back to district court for resentencing. Thomas, along with his codefendant Hilton Wilson, was convicted of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder after an eight day jury trial.
The Honorable Chuck West sentenced both defendants to life in prison on first degree murder and 25-years on attempted first degree murder. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrent and without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
The appellate court ordered Thomas to be resentenced because he was not represented by counsel during the sentencing hearing. According to the decision, “It was decided that an alternate attorney would stand in at sentencing for the defendant’s attorney, who had a scheduling conflict. The transcript reflects that the attorney designated to appear for sentencing failed to appear and that the trial court proceeded with the sentencing without his presence. The record further reflects that the defendant did not waive his right to counsel at any time prior to his actual sentencing.”

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