3rd Circuit upholds manslaughter sentence

<p class="p1">The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal has upheld the sentence of a Lake Charles man who was convicted of manslaughter in 2015 in state district court.</p><p class="p1">Dale Wadric Winters, 45, pleaded guilty to killing his wife, Michelle Mitchell, 30, on June 7, 2011.</p><p class="p1">Mitchell was shot once in the chest during an argument at a residence on E. Prien Lake Road, authorities said.</p><p class="p1">Judge Ron Ware sentenced Winters to 40 years in prison.</p><p class="p1">He could have faced life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, of which he was originally charged.</p><p class="p1">Prosecutors agreed to an amended charge so that Mitchell’s children would not have to testify.</p><p class="p1">Winters appealed his sentence, arguing two things: that the trial court erred in failing to order a pre-sentencing investigation report, and that his sentence was excessive. </p><p class="p1">The defendant stated in his appeal that “he did not have a prior felony record, held a job, was a productive citizen, and could not be considered the worst type of offender.”</p><p class="p1">In its opinion, which was handed down last week, the 3rd Circuit affirmed his sentence, saying a pre-sentencing report is “discretionary” under the criminal code which deals with that particular issue, adding, “If a defendant is convicted of a felony offense … the court may order the Department of Public Safety and Corrections … to make a presentence investigation.”</p><p class="p1">Regarding the sentence Winters received, the 3rd Circuit said, in its opinion, “The defendant was properly charged in an indictment. He was present and represented by counsel at all crucial stages of the proceedings. Additionally, the defendant pled guilty in this case, and that plea was freely and voluntarily entered after he was advised of his rights.”</p>

<p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>The defendant stated in his appeal that ‘he did not have a prior felony record, held a job, was a productive citizen, and could not be considered the worst type of offender.’</strong></span>

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