Appeals court vacates sentence

871

Carolyn Roy
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction of a Natchitoches man but vacated his sentences and remanded him to Tenth Judicial District Court for resentencing. The remand is because of the trial court’s improper imposition of firearm enhancements on his convictions.
Deontay Deshun Hardy was convicted of armed robbery and attempted armed robbery for an incident May 1, 2016. Hardy was one of two men who robbed Paul Smith Sr. in the parking lot of Southern Classic Chicken just after the restaurant closed for the day at about 10:40 p.m. They took Smith’s cell phone and keys, entered the store by the back door, held the employees at gunpoint and demanded that the manager, Shylonda Smith, Paul Smith’s wife, open the safe.
When she was unable to open the safe, gunshots were fired through the glass door. Hardy and the other armed intruder ran out of the restaurant and fled into the neighborhood. A Natchitoches Police Department corporal responded to the incident, chased Hardy and captured him in a nearby yard.
He was taken to the NPD station where he signed a waiver of rights form before being transported to a local hospital.

This article published in the Thursday, July 21, 2022, print edition. Subscribe by calling 318-352-3618.

He was eventually charged with two counts of armed robbery, the first being of Southern Classic Restaurant and Shylonda Smith and the second of Paul Smith Sr. At his trial Oct. 13-14, 2020, Hardy was found guilty of attempted armed robbery of Southern Classic and Mrs. Smith and armed robbery of Mr. Smith. On Jan. 26, 2021, Hardy was sentenced to serve 90 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence for armed robbery and 40 years at hard labor without benefits for attempted armed robbery.
Additionally, the trial court invoked the firearm enhancement statute, La.R.S. 14:64.3, and ordered Hardy to serve an additional five years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence for each conviction. All sentences were ordered to run consecutive to each other for a total sentence of 140 years at hard labor.
The appeal court said that the trial court erred in applying the five-year firearm enhancement because the statute should have been charged in the bill of information or indictment and was not.
The appeal decision read, “In the present case, the defendant’s sentences of 95 years for armed robbery and 45 years for attempted armed robbery, even with the trial court’s enhancement, are both within the legal range of sentences for his offenses.
“As such, this court will not assume the trial court will simply remove the additional five years. In recognizing this fact, we note that the trial court has wide discretion in sentencing and may ultimately decide to sentence defendant to the same sentences he currently faces, only without invoking the firearm enhancement. Accordingly, we vacate defendant’s sentences and remand for resentencing without application of the firearm enhancement of La.R.S. 14:64.3.”
The court was composed of Chief Judge Sylvia R. Cooks and Judges Jonathan W. Perry and Sharon Darville Wilson.