The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld its decision to overturn the life sentence of a Beauregard Parish man who confessed to the premeditated killings of his stepmother and stepbrother in 1983.
The appellate court ruled last month that the two life sentences handed down to Aaron George Hauser, now 54, should not stand based on the fact that Hauser was 17 years old at the time he committed the killings, and that he should be allowed a chance for release into the general population.
The ruling was based on a controversial decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 to allow juveniles convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison a new hearing and consideration for release.
In 2018, in accordance with the 2016 decision, 36th Judicial District Judge C. Kerry Anderson presided over a new hearing for Hauser and ruled that Hauser’s original life sentences should remain in place.
The Third Circuit later overturned that decision in January, and on Feb. 19, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit denied the Beauregard Parish District Attorney’s office its request to rehear the appeal.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Morton said he now intends to take the fight to keep Hauser in prison to the state Supreme Court.
“Aaron G. Hauser should not be eligible for parole consideration, but should continue to serve his original sentences of life without parole for the murder of two members of his father’s family on July 4, 1983,” Morton told the American Press.
“In reversing Judge Anderson, the panel of the Third Circuit found that Judge Anderson had abused the vast discretion that he has in this case. The District Attorney’s Office respectfully disagrees with that ruling of the Court of Appeal, and believes that the ruling by Judge Anderson was reasonable and in accordance with the law. On behalf of the victims’ surviving family and loved ones, as well as in the interest of the community in general, the District Attorney’s Office will be seeking review of this ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court.” Hauser pleaded guilty in 1984 to the killings that he committed 100 days before turning 18.
According to documents filed with the case, Hauser traveled to Beauregard Parish from his home in Kerrville, Texas with guns he had purchased in the days prior. An acquaintance of Hauser’s testified that he had accompanied Hauser under the impression that the two were going to commit property crimes.
After secretly watching as Hauser’s father left the home in the early morning hours of July 4, Hauser entered his father’s home while his accomplice acted as a lookout, and shot and killed his stepmother and then his 17-year-old stepbrother while they slept.
The accomplice then fled the scene to a neighboring home where he called police.
The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights filed the appeal last year to the Third Circuit, arguing that Hauser had “endured mental and emotional turmoil” in the weeks prior to the killings, and that his incarceration record was “practically unblemished.” The advocacy group maintained in its filings that there had been no evidence provided to show Hauser was “permanently incorrigible.”
For its part, the state continues to argue that the Supreme Court ruling does not require a court prove the offender is incorrigible or that they display irreparable corruption.
Hauser’s case was the first of its kind to be heard by an appellate court since the US Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling.
The District Attorney’s Office is expected to file its writ application to the High Court by March 20.