A recent article in The Advocate reported that guilty pleas in two recent criminal cases will prevent numerous people from having to go through difficult criminal trials. One of those cases involves a 30-year-old man who killed seven Baton Rouge residents in a head-on crash last year in East Feliciana Parish. He pleaded guilty back in December to seven counts of vehicular homicide.
The other case involves a 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2010 killing of an 8-year-old boy from Clinton on a biking trail in The Bluffs on Thompson Creek. The young man in that cases reportedly dropped an insanity defense prior to his guilty plea.
In the latter case, some testimony had been given after the defendant was arrested, though it was given during a closed hearing in which the judge was deciding whether to try him as an adult. In the other case, the man’s sentence has gone through two hearings, and he is still awaiting sentencing. Those hearings were reportedly quite emotional for the families of the victims.
In the former cases, the only penalty available for the young man at the time of his sentence was life in prison without parole, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled years ago that juvenile defendants cannot be put to death. Last year, however, the high court ruled that a life sentence for a juvenile without considering the possibility of parole is also unconstitutional. A hearing must be held on that issue.
Pleading guilty to criminal charges as serious as homicide is not something criminal defendants take lightly. For defendants, though, there is often fear of conviction looming over their head, and prosecutors often aim to scare defendants into making a decision. That is why it is critical to have an advocate who understands the criminal process and who can give proper consideration to every relevant factor in the case.
Source: Source: The Advocate, “Inside Report: Guilty pleas save heartache of trials,” James Minton, May 21, 2013.