The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed the 40-year sentence of a man convicted of manslaughter in 2018 in state district court.
Richard Douglas Westbrook, 42, was found competent to stand trial after a sanity hearing in 2017.
Westbrook fatally stabbed Julie LeBlanc McQuilliams, 47, on Feb. 14, 2017, in the 3200 block of Landfair Street. Authorities said her body was found in the road around 5 a.m.
Psychiatrists Dr. James Anderson and Dr. Patrick Hayes, both of whom had evaluated Westbrook, testified at his sanity hearing that Westbrook was competent to go to trial.
Both psychiatrists said Westbrook had been taking a number of medications at the time of their evaluations — including those for psychosis, depression, mood stabilizing and anxiety — and that he should remain on them.
Westbrook was originally indicted by a grand jury for second-degree murder. He initially pleaded not guilty and subsequently changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. After he was deemed competent to proceed to trial, Westbrook changed his plea from not guilty by reason of insanity to a reduced charge of guilty of manslaughter, which the trial court accepted.
At his sentencing before Judge David Ritchie, Westbrook asked to speak before the court.
"Good morning, your honor," Westbrook said. "First off, I'd like to apologize to the whole family. It (the stabbing death) was senseless, you know. Drugs had overtaken my life, and I was spiraling down, and this is just a culmination of it, and I apologize to the family, and I wish it never would have happened. I really wish it never would have happened. But here we are today, and all we can do is move forward."
Ritchie sentenced Westbrook to 40 years at hard labor with credit for time served.
Westbrook later appealed his sentence, alleging the sentence was excessive.
The 3rd Circuit disagreed with that assertion and affirmed his 40-year sentence.