State v. Montgomery, 194 So.3d 606 (LA 2016) – Defendant, age 17 at the time of the crime, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to mandatory life without parole. He challenged his sentence as cruel and unusual punishment under Miller, asserting that Miller applied retroactively. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged that Miller applied retroactively, vacated the defendant’s sentence, and remanded the case to the district court for resentencing.
Citing Miller, the court explained that in resentencing, the district court was to determine whether the defendant was “the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption” or whether he would be eligible for parole. The court noted that Louisiana has not yet passed legislation to address cases in which a juvenile homicide offender was sentenced to life without parole pre-Miller. It therefore determined that “in the absence of further legislative action, the previously enacted provisions [La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1; La.R.S. 15.574.4(E)] should be used for the resentencing hearings” required by Montgomery. These provisions require the district court to hold a hearing to determine whether a sentence should be imposed with or without parole eligibility. La.C.Cr.P. art. 878.1 provides that: “At the hearing, the prosecution and defense shall be allowed to introduce any aggravating and mitigating evidence that is relevant to the charged offense or the character of the offender, including but not limited to the facts and circumstances of the crime, the criminal history of the offender, the offender’s level of family support, social history, and such other factors as the court may deem relevant. Sentences imposed without parole eligibility should normally be reserved for the worst offenders and the worst cases.” The court emphasized that the district court may consider other relevant factors, such as those provided in the general sentencing guidelines of La.C.Cr.P.art 894.1 or those enumerated in legislative enactments of other states (such as Fla. Stat. § 921.1401(2), which, among other factors, provides for consideration of the defendant’s age, maturity, intellectual capacity, and mental and emotional help, the effect, if any, of immaturity, impetuosity, or failure to appreciate risks, the extent of the defendant’s participation in the offense, the effect of familiar or peer pressure, and the possibility of rehabilitation). The Louisiana Supreme Court reminded the district court that it was to follow the directive in Miller to “take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.” Finally, it directed the district court “to issue reasons indicating the factors it considered to aid in appellate review of the sentence imposed after resentencing.” Remanded for resentencing.