Louisiana v. KennonAnnotate this Case
Defendant Keddrick Kennon was convicted by jury of distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine. The district court sentenced defendant to serve two terms of imprisonment at hard labor: 30 years and five years, to run consecutively. The court of appeal affirmed the convictions and sentences (as amended to reflect that the first two years of the 30-year sentence for distribution of cocaine were to be served without parole eligibility). Thereafter, the State filed a habitual offender bill of information, alleging that defendant was a fourth-felony offender with predicate felony convictions for distribution of cocaine, possession of cocaine, and attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Defendant admitted he was a second-felony offender (based on the attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute predicate) and received an agreed-upon sentence of 60 years imprisonment at hard labor. The district court, however, had vacated both sentences before it imposed the 60-year sentence. Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, which the district court denied. Because defendant received a single 60-year sentence despite being convicted of two crimes, the court of appeal granted defendant’s application for supervisory writs. The court of appeal then vacated the habitual offender sentence and remanded for resentencing. On remand, the trial court reimposed the originally agreed-upon sentence of 60 years imprisonment at hard labor as a second-felony offender for distribution of cocaine. The district court also sentenced defendant to a concurrent term of five years imprisonment at hard labor for the possession of cocaine conviction.
The court of appeal affirmed the sentences. On appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, defendant argued his 60-year habitual offender sentence was reviewable despite it being imposed originally pursuant to a plea agreement, and that it was excessive in violation of the prohibition against cruel, excessive, or unusual punishment contained in La. Const. Art. 1, section 20. The Supreme Court found the 60-year sentence was both reviewable and excessive, and therefore set it aside. However, because the sentence was negotiated as part of a plea agreement in which defendant admitted his status as a second-felony offender, the Court also set aside the habitual offender adjudication, restored the parties to the status quo ante by reinstating the unenhanced sentences (30 years and 5 years, to run consecutively) that were affirmed as amended in Kennon-1, and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.