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Life sentence upheld in Marine's 2009 death

Nov. 7, 2013 - 11:29AM   |  
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LAKE CHARLES, LA. — An appeals court has affirmed the life sentence of a man convicted of killing a Marine at a Lake Charles party in 2009.

Twenty-seven-year-old Bryce Perkins was convicted in February 2011 of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Daniel Gueringer (GEHR’-in-jer). The crime carries a mandatory life sentence.

Perkins’ attorneys had appealed the life sentence as excessive. But to show that a mandatory life sentence was unconstitutional, Perkins had to prove unusual circumstances that put him outside the Legislature’s intention of the sentence.

The American Press reports that the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the sentence Wednesday in an opinion written by Judge John E. Conery.

Conery wrote that Perkins’ lawyers failed to prove that Perkins should be exempted from the mandatory sentence.

Perkins’ sentence has been at issue more than once since his initial conviction.

After Perkins was convicted of second-degree murder in February 2011, Judge Ron Ware, at a sentencing hearing in April of that year, reduced the charge to manslaughter. Ware said Perkins did not have specific intent to kill Gueringer. He sentenced Perkins to 30 years in prison.

But the 3rd Circuit last year reinstated the second-degree murder conviction, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

That led to the appeal of the sentence at issue in Wednesday’s ruling.

“Defendant has failed to make any showing that he is ‘exceptional’ in a way that renders his sentences excessive under the discussed jurisprudence,” Conery wrote. “His brief merely alludes to his youth.”

The 3rd Circuit did find an error with the sentence, calling it “illegally lenient” because it was not imposed at hard labor. The appeals court “will not correct an illegally lenient sentence, unless it is raised as an error on appeal,” Conery wrote.

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