Appeals court panel orders man to serve sentence in infant’s death

A week after reinstating the two-year sentence that a Donaldsonville man never served in the 1994 death of an Ascension Parish infant, a divided appeals court has backpedaled and ordered a judge to consider the state’s motion to execute his original sentence.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal panel’s ruling late Monday followed the panel’s July 15 stay of its earlier July 14 decision. The original 1st Circuit decision ordered Stanley White to serve has two-year sentence, which reversed a ruling of state District Judge Jessie LeBlanc.

LeBlanc last year suspended White’s two-year prison term after the case resurfaced and gave him two years of probation.

The 1st Circuit panel said Monday that LeBlanc’s action resulted in an illegal “new sentence.”

Part of the confusion last week was because each of the three judges on the panel issued an individual ruling, but they conflicted each other.

The judges came closer together Monday, sending the case back to LeBlanc with instructions to consider two issues — the state’s “well-founded” motion to revoke White’s appeals bond, and moving on another state motion to execute his original sentence.

“We look forward to having the opportunity to once again argue our position in front of her,” Assistant Attorney General Kurt Wall said Tuesday.

Regardless of what LeBlanc does, the 1st Circuit likely will get one more crack at the case before it ultimately heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

“That’s where this case will end up eventually,” noted White’s attorney, Steven Moore.

The 1st Circuit panel said in its latest ruling that White was not entitled to any credit against his sentence for the time he spent free.

“The time that the defendant spent free was certainly an ‘act of grace,’ and he should not be entitled to credit against his sentence for that time,” Circuit Judge James Kuhn wrote for the panel.

Circuit Judge Mitch Theriot concurred but said both sides raise legitimate arguments in support of their respective points of view.

“I would advise the trial court to hold a contradictory hearing to allow both parties to argue their well-founded positions,” he said, adding that LeBlanc could either grant or deny the state’s motions.

The third member of the panel, Circuit Judge Toni Higginbotham, dissented, first acknowledging that the loss of little Brittney Deville “is a terrible tragedy that no parent should have to endure.” But she said sending White to prison now “would be inconsistent with fundamental principles of liberty and justice.”

“Since his conviction, Mr. White obtained a bachelor’s degree, a Realtor’s license, full-time employment, has had no arrests and took no steps to prevent the lawful execution of his sentence,” Higginbotham added.

White pleaded guilty July 10, 1995, to the reduced charge of negligent homicide for an alcohol-related crash a year earlier on Airline Highway near Gonzales that killed a 10-week-old St. Amant girl.

White, 39, was sentenced to two years in prison. He was allowed to remain free while the case was appealed, but when he lost that appeal, deputies never picked up White nor did White surrender to begin serving his sentence.