The Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport recently affirmed a life sentence for a Monroe man who brutally killed a two-year-old child in November 2013.
A unanimous jury convicted Eric Nabors, of Monroe, of second-degree murder. A lengthy dispute arose between Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Larry Jefferson and Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew over Nabors’ sentence and concluded last June 2019 when Jefferson — acting under directions from the state Supreme Court — finally sentenced Nabors to life in prison without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
In his appeal to the Second Circuit, Nabors argued that the life sentence was constitutionally excessive. The penalty for second-degree murder, under state law, is mandatory life imprisonment.
Nabors referred to remarks made by Jefferson that a life sentence failed to account for the possibility Nabors might rehabilitate himself. Jefferson had defended such a possible outcome as part of his reasons for when he brushed aside the jury’s guilty verdict and granted Nabors a new trial.
“Specifically, he (Nabors) points to (Jefferson’s) opinion that there was no evidence that he committed a ‘direct act of cruelty’ or inflicted actual physical injury on the child,” stated the Second Circuit’s opinion. “The trial court stated that it could not determine exactly when or how the injuries occurred, nor could it say that the state had proven specific intent. Defendant contends that the mandatory sentence is excessive because his case rested on circumstantial rather than direct evidence.”
Second Circuit Judge Frances Pitman wrote the April 22 opinion on behalf of a three-judge panel also including judges Jeanette Garrett and Shonda Stone.
In one of its previous rulings overturning Jefferson’s decisions in State of Louisiana v. Eric D. Nabors, the Second Circuit found the evidence in the case was sufficient to support the verdict.
The child, Jemarion Jackson, was in Nabors’ care the day he died. Nabors and the child’s mother took Jackson to the hospital where he was treated for severe injuries, an inability to breathe, and an abnormal body temperature. The child died after 30 minutes.
“The severity of the child’s injuries alone, a lacerated liver and mesentery, brain swelling and fractured ribs to his back, suggest they were inflicted, at the very least, through cruelty to a juvenile, which is sufficient to support a conviction of second degree murder, and there is no need for this court to review the disturbing underlying facts of Defendant’s conviction a second time,” stated the Second Circuit’s opinion.
Tew, the district attorney, opposed Nabors’ appeal of the life sentence, arguing that Nabors was trying to dispute the case’s evidence by disguising the arguments as an objection to an excessive sentence.
“Correctly noting that this court found that the trial court’s reevaluation of the evidence in this case was grossly erroneous, (Tew’s office) simply argues that the mandatory sentence in this matter is not shocking to the conscience of society,” stated the Second Circuit’s opinion. “Defendant failed to articulate any reason why his circumstances justify a departure from the mandatory life sentence. The mandatory life sentence does not shock the sense of justice for the brutal killing of this two-year-old child.”