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State of Louisiana v. Tyeisha L. Croskey
Case Number: 53,505-KA
Judge: Jeffrey Stephen Cox
Court: COURT OF APPEAL
STATE OF LOUISIANA
Plaintiff's Attorney: JAMES EDWARD PAXTON
Assistant District Attorney
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On November 1, 2016, the Tallulah Police Department received a call
in reference to someone being stabbed at an apartment in Tallulah. After
arriving, officers learned that Yameka Barnett had been stabbed in her left
eye. Laura Lucas testified as a witness. She stated that Barnett and Croskey
had gotten into an altercation. Lucas stated that Barnett advised her that
Croskey made allegations that Lucas had been mistreating children. Lucas
confronted Croskey. After the confrontation, Croskey followed Lucas to
Barnett’s home. Croskey and Barnett began arguing, and Lucas heard
Barnett scream. Lucas then saw Barnett had been stabbed in the eye.
Barnett was taken to the hospital for treatment, but later died from her
On November 3, 2016, Croskey, who was 18 years old at the time of
the offense, turned herself in to the Tallulah Police Department and was
charged with attempted second-degree murder. She was indicted for seconddegree murder after Barnett died.
Croskey pled guilty to manslaughter. The district court ordered a
presentence investigation report. Croskey did not participate in the
presentence investigation. On July 24, 2019, Croskey was sentenced to 25
years’ imprisonment at hard labor, with credit for time served. At the
beginning of the sentencing hearing, Croskey made a statement apologizing
for what she did and urging that she acted in self-defense. The district court
orally expressed its reasons for sentencing, which it later reduced to written
reasons for sentencing. The district court stated:
1. Croskey’s actions were premeditated, or at least sufficient
time had passed for her anger to have settled.
2. Croskey showed some remorse for her actions. But, she
repeatedly diminished the gravity of her actions by claiming
self-defense. The court noted that for every crime she
committed, she always seemed to put forward an excuse,
lacking the ability to truly take responsibility for her actions.
3. Croskey has been arrested on two other occasions for serious
offenses; once as a principal to first-degree murder in a drive
by shooting and once in Mississippi for domestic abuse from
shooting her boyfriend in the groin.
4. Croskey never completed high school or held a job so she
lacked true service to the economy as she relied on her
deceased father’s money to live.
5. After reviewing the victim impact statements of Mechelle
Lewis, Yameka Barrett’s mother, it was clear that Croskey’s
action would have a lasting impact on her.
On August 8, 2019, Croskey filed a motion to reconsider sentence,
which was subsequently denied. This appeal followed.
Croskey argues that a 25-year sentence is excessive for an 18-yearold, first-felony offender and the district court failed to consider mitigating
factors. Croskey contends that until that day, she had no criminal
convictions. She argues the sentence is factually unjustified, she is not the
most egregious of offenders, and the district court failed to consider her
social history. Croskey disagrees with the district court’s conclusion that her
actions were premeditated and sufficient time had passed for her anger to
dissipate before the stabbing. She points out that she showed remorse for
her actions. Croskey also states that she took responsibility for her crime as
shown by her waiver of extradition after being arrested in Vicksburg,
Mississippi on other charges and by pleading guilty “to what she arguably
should have been charged with in the first place.”
Croskey also claims that the district court should not have relied on
her previous arrests. She contends that the first incident was an arrest for a
drive by shooting for which she was merely an innocent passenger. The
second was a domestic abuse battery wherein she shot her boyfriend in the
groin. Croskey argues that she is not quick to resort to violence but “quick
to resort to self-defense.”
Croskey argues that in sentencing, the district court relied on the fact
that she had been supporting herself with money she received on behalf of
her father’s death. Instead, it should have been a mitigating factor because
she lost her father at a young age. Finally, Croskey points out that there is
no evidence that she intended Barnett’s death by stabbing her in the eye.
She notes that this is not the same as stabbing one in the chest or slitting
one’s throat. Therefore, Croskey believes it is evident that she did not intend
for, or expect, death to occur from her actions.
The state emphasizes that Croskey refused to cooperate and provide a
statement for her presentence investigation report. The state points out that
the two charges of principal to first degree murder, stemming from the drive
by shooting, were dismissed via this plea agreement. It argues the violence
herein was not an isolated incident and states that Croskey failed to initially
appear for sentencing in this case because she was incarcerated in
Mississippi for shooting her boyfriend in the groin. The state argues
Croskey is prone to violence and the sentence is justified in this case.
An excessive sentence claim is reviewed by examining whether the
trial court adequately considered the guidelines established in La. C. Cr. P.
art. 894.1, and whether the sentence is constitutionally excessive. State v.
Vanhorn, 52,583 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/10/19), 268 So. 3d 357, writ denied,
2019-00745 (La. 11/19/19), 282 So. 3d 1065; State v. Wing, 51,857 (La.
App. 2 Cir. 2/28/18), 246 So. 3d 711.
First, the record must show that the trial court took cognizance of the
criteria set forth in La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1. The articulation of the factual
basis for a sentence is the goal of La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1, not rigid or
mechanical compliance with its provisions. The trial court is not required to
list every aggravating or mitigating circumstance so long as the record
reflects that it adequately considered the guidelines of the article. State v.
Smith, 433 So. 2d 688 (La. 1983); State v. Turner, 51,888 (La. App. 2 Cir.
2/28/18), 246 So. 3d 695; State v. Brown, 51,352 (La. App. 2 Cir. 5/2/17),
223 So. 3d 88, reh’g denied (June 15, 2017). The important elements which
should be considered are the defendant’s personal history (age, family ties,
marital status, health, and employment record), prior criminal record,
seriousness of offense, and the likelihood of rehabilitation. State v. Jones,
398 So. 2d 1049 (La. 1981); Turner, supra; Brown, supra; State v. Ates,
43,327 (La. App. 2 Cir. 8/13/08), 989 So. 2d 259, writ denied, 08-2341 (La.
5/15/09), 8 So. 3d 581. There is no requirement that specific matters be
given any particular weight at sentencing. Turner, supra.
Second, the court must determine whether the sentence is
constitutionally excessive. Brown, supra. Constitutional review turns upon
whether the sentence is illegal, grossly disproportionate to the severity of the
offences, or shocking the sense of justice. A sentence violates La. Const.
art. I, § 20 if it is grossly out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense
or nothing more than the purposeless infliction of pain and suffering. A
sentence is grossly disproportionate if, when the crime and punishment are
viewed in light of the harm to society, it shocks the sense of justice. State v.
Baker, 51,933 (La. App. 2 Cir. 4/11/18), 247 So. 3d 990, writ denied, 2018-
0858 (La. 12/3/18), 257 So. 3d 195, and writ denied, 2018-0833 (La.
12/3/18), 257 So. 3d 196; State v. Scott, 50,920 (La. App. 2 Cir. 11/16/16),
209 So. 3d 248, writ denied, 17-0353 (La. 11/13/17), 229 So. 3d 478.
The trial court has wide discretion in the imposition of sentences
within the statutory limits, and sentences should not be set aside as excessive
in the absence of manifest abuse of discretion. A trial judge is in the best
position to consider the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of a
particular case, and, therefore, is given broad discretion in sentencing.
Baker, supra; Brown, supra.
The offense of manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment at hard
labor for not more than 40 years. La. R.S. 14:31.
Considering the facts of this case, the district court considered
mitigating factors, and the sentence neither shocks the sense of justice nor is
it grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offense.
First, in its written reasons and at sentencing, the district court
mentioned various factors it considered when sentencing Croskey. Although
it did not provide Croskey with an exhaustive list, it did consider important
factors when sentencing Croskey. The district court was within its
discretion in finding that Croskey’s action could be considered premeditated.
According to the witness, Croskey engaged in a verbal altercation with
Lucas, which concluded with Lucas withdrawing from the fight and leaving.
Croskey, armed with a sharp object, then followed Lucas to Barnett’s home
and a second altercation ensued during which Croskey stabbed Barnett in the
eye. Croskey had an opportunity to end the altercation when Lucas left the
verbal confrontation. Instead, Croskey armed herself and pursued the
argument in Barnett’s home. Further, stabbing someone in the eye can
foreseeably lead to death, despite Croskey’s argument. The district court
was within its discretion to determine that Croskey failed to show adequate
remorse in her statement. Croskey’s attempts to minimize her actions
indicate that she does not fully understand the weight of her actions.
Furthermore, the district court was justified in finding that her other
arrests weighed in favor of the sentence imposed. As the district court
stated, she was a willing passenger in a vehicle involved in a drive-byshooting and had been incarcerated for domestic battery for shooting her
boyfriend in the groin. The record indicates that Croskey has shown an
escalating propensity for violence resulting in the egregious stabbing of the
victim in the eye. Further, Croskey was not compliant during the court
proceedings. She failed to cooperate with the presentence investigation and
missed court appearances because of the domestic battery arrest.
Finally, the district court properly considered Croskey’s social history.
Croskey did not finished high school, nor did she held a job since dropping
out. Croskey relied on funds from a personal injury settlement to retain an
attorney and make bond in this case. Therefore, the district court complied
with La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1 and considered the necessary aggravating and
Second, the sentence was not excessive. Croskey received a 25-year
sentence for manslaughter. Although this is slightly above mid-range for
such an offense, it is not grossly out of proportion with the seriousness of the
offense. Therefore, this assignment of error is without merit.
Outcome: For the foregoing reasons, Tyeisha Croskey’s conviction and sentence