The Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport recently ruled that then-Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Carl Sharp imposed an illegal sentence by forbidding parole to a West Monroe man convicted of manslaughter.
Troy Donnell Gaines Jr., of West Monroe, was originally indicted for the second-degree murder, though a trial jury found him guilty of manslaughter in March 2017. The incident that claimed the life of Gaines’ girlfriend, Chandrika “Drika” Green, occurred at the couple’s apartment in West Monroe in December 2011.
After the trial in 2017, Sharp sentenced Gaines to 40 years at hard labor, which was affirmed by the Second Circuit in April 2018. Afterward, the district court took up a habitual offender bill of information filed by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew’s office.
The Ouachita Citizen reached out to Tew’s office about the case but did not receive a comment by the time the newspaper went to press Tuesday night.
Sharp vacated previous 40-year sentence for manslaughter and sentenced Gaines as a second-felony offender, imposing 50 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
Gaines appealed the sentence, arguing the habitual offender sentence was excessive.
“Gaines’s 50-year sentence was ordered by the trial court to be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence,” stated the Second Circuit’s opinion. “Neither La. R.S. 15:529.1, nor R.S. 14:31, contains any restrictions on parole eligibility. Therefore, the inclusion of the restriction on parole renders Gaines’s sentence illegal.”
Second Circuit Judge James “Jimbo” Stephens, of Baskin, wrote the Feb. 27 order on behalf of a three-judge panel also including Second Circuit judges Milton Moore, of Monroe, and Jeanette Garrett.
The Second Circuit amended Gaines’ sentence and deleted the denial of parole eligibility. The sentence, as amended, was affirmed.
Gaines argued the habitual offender sentence was excessive because the court did not consider evidence that showed the victim was having an affair and provoked him. Sharp struck down that argument at the district court.
The Second Circuit upheld Sharp’s ruling to deny Gaines’ argument and motion to reconsider sentence. The sentencing range for second-felony offenders is 20 to 80 years.
“Likewise, considering that Gaines has deprived his children of their mother and Chandrikia Green of her life at the age of 21, coupled with the heinous facts of this case, the imposed 50-year sentence is not constitutionally excessive,” Stephens wrote.
“Though Gaines’s sentence likely amounts to a life sentence due to his age, the sentence imposed does not shock the sense of justice, nor is it grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offense.”
The victim, Green, was found shot to death in a closet in Gaines’ apartment at Glenwood Townhomes in West Monroe. Gaines was 29 at the time. The couple had been in a relationship for six years and had two children together. Prior to her death, the couple experienced trouble in their relationship and Green was staying with her sister. Gaines reportedly suspected Green was cheating on him and wanted to leave him.
Court records show that Gaines went to his uncle’s home while holding a gun and informed his uncle that Green was dead. When officers arrived at the apartment, they found two large dressers barricaded in front of closet doors. Officers found Green in the closet, dead and slumped over in the corner of the closet. She had two gunshot wounds, one to the head and one to the chest.
Firearms testing confirmed the bullets recovered from Green’s body matched the gun Gaines left at his uncle’s home.