A Baton Rouge teenager will spend the next 35 years in prison, without benefit of parole, following his guilty plea in the 2012 shooting death of one man and wounding of another on Thomas Delpit Drive, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Donovan Woods, who was 16 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the July 24, 2012, killing of James Ray Mimms, 42, and attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of the other man.
State District Judge Lou Daniel sentenced Woods, now 17, to concurrent 35-year prison terms. The 35 years must be served without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence, East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Barry Fontenot said.
Woods was scheduled to stand trial Monday on charges of second-degree murder, which carried a possible sentence of life in prison without parole, and attempted second-degree murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states can no longer automatically sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole in murder cases without first holding a sentencing hearing to consider the defendant’s youth, upbringing, circumstances of the crime and other factors.
In direct response to that ruling, the Louisiana Legislature approved a measure during this year’s regular session requiring a sentencing judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the sentence should be imposed with or without parole eligibility.
If a sentence is imposed with eligibility for parole, the legislation — which took effect Aug. 1 — gives incarcerated offenders a shot at freedom after serving 35 years for first- or second-degree murder, according to the legislation that the governor signed into law.
Fontenot said Mimms’ family and the wounded man were consulted, and they felt that allowing Woods to plead guilty in exchange for a 35-year sentence was the appropriate way to handle the case.