(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:02 AM
A man convicted of taking part in the 1981 murder of a Lake Charles cab driver will be resentenced after a ruling from the Supreme Court that life in prison can’t be mandatory for those under the age of 18 when they commit a crime.
Ramus J. Benoit, 49, was a month shy of his 18th birthday when he and two others were involved in the murder of 38-year-old cab driver Gene Madden on Oct. 8, 1981.
In ruling on Alabama v. Miller in July 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a convict’s youth must at least be considered before a sentence is handed out.
“Mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments,’ ” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the majority opinion.
In a subsequent ruling, the state Supreme Court said the high court’s ruling requires “a sentencing court consider an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics as mitigating circumstances before deciding whether to impose the harshest possibly penalty for juveniles.”
When Benoit was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1982, he was sentenced to life in prison, although prosecutors sought the death penalty. Benoit can again receive life in prison, but his youth must be considered when he is resentenced, Assistant District Attorney Carla Sigler said.
Benoit, who is incarcerated at Angola State Penitentiary, filed for relief under the ruling. King Alexander, Benoit’s attorney, said the goal is “a determinate sentence as opposed to a life-without-parole sentence.
“Even if he’s not immediately released, a determinate sentence improves his situation,” he said. “There are ways that the Department of Corrections eventually phases people back into society with halfway and three-quarter houses and work-release programs to make sure that they’re not making a mistake.”
Sigler said Benoit’s resentencing will be the first in Calcasieu under the ruling. She said there are a few other similar cases in the parish.
Benoit, along with his brother, Larry Benoit, and Vaughn Howard, shot Madden at least nine times. His body was found in a ditch at the intersection of Lincoln Road and La. 397.
Prosecutors claimed Madden was shot during a robbery, while defense attorneys claimed he was shot during a drug deal. Sheriff Wayne McElveen said $24 was taken from Madden. He said the .38- and .32-caliber pistols used in the killing were stolen during a burglary the night before.
Howard was 18 at the time, and Larry Benoit was 16. They all lived at the same residence.
Howard pleaded guilty to armed robbery and received a 35-year prison term. The judge said Howard neither fired shots nor touched the body.
Larry Benoit pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. He was in court Wednesday. He said Gov. Edwin Edwards commuted his sentence in 1995, and he was released from prison in 2004.
Posted By: KD On: 2/22/2013
Title: Know the whole story before you comment!
Before commenting, how about knowing all the facts!
Posted By: Judy Hines On: 2/21/2013
I thought that being shot NINE times WAS cruel and un unusual punishment!!!
Posted By: concerned citizen On: 2/21/2013
Title: It sure wasn't an accident
They shot him 9 times!!!!
Posted By: Me On: 2/21/2013
Title: He killed someone!!!
He deserves so much more than life in prison. They shot the man 9 times!!!!!