A state appeals court has affirmed the conviction of a 28-year-old Schriever man who was declared a repeat offender last year.
However, the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeals also vacated the 25-year sentence for Jason Dontrel Chatman, who was ruled as a habitual offender after being found guilty in 2016 of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
In their Sept. 15 ruling, appeals court judges found that Chatman’s original sentence contained an error because the defendant was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor without the benefit of probation or suspension of sentence, but he should have also been sentenced without the benefit of parole as well.
Chatman will now be remanded to the District Court for re-sentencing.
Chatman had also pleaded guilty in 2009 to possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance and in 2014 he pleaded guilty to aggravated flight from a police officer, court records show.
Chatman’s appellate attorney, Mary Constance Hanes of New Orleans, filed an appeal alleging her client had received ineffective counsel during sentencing because his attorney at the time failed to present evidence of Chatman’s mental illness.
According to Chatman’s appeal, the defendant’s trial attorney failed to investigate his mental illness or present any expert witnesses to show how his mental illness affected his behavior on the day of his arrest.
Chatman claims he suffers from bipolar disorder, court records show.
Chatman also argued that a member of his family was forced to testify for the state, his lawyer failed to subpoena certain witnesses and he was denied adequate legal counsel because he couldn’t afford a lawyer.
Appeals court judges ruled that Chatman presented “no actual arguments or legal authority for any of his claims.”
On July 19, 2015, a Terrebonne Sheriff’s deputy responded to the Johnson Ridge neighborhood to investigate a report of shots being fired, authorities said. The deputy then saw Chatman on the street and was aware the suspect had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on a hit-and-run charge.
When police approached Chatman he started running and pulled a firearm from his waistband, deputies said.
Chatman was taken into custody and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegal use of a weapon, resisting arrest and aggravated criminal damage to property. No injuries were reported.
Hanes declined to comment about the case.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.