- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Baton Rouge judge is standing by the 40-year prison term he gave a St. Gabriel woman convicted of abusing her then-20-month-old stepson.

After Charlotte Staggs was swiftly convicted of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and sentenced in 2012, her attorney filed a motion in 2013 asking state District Judge Mike Erwin to reconsider the penalty and put her on probation and five years of home incarceration.

Stephen Sterling, who represents Staggs, argued 40 years in prison was an excessive sentence for a “one-time isolated event” and a woman - now 28 - with no prior criminal history.

The boy’s father, Steven Staggs, 32, of Baton Rouge, was found guilty earlier this month of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, and Erwin gave him an identical sentence.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1glIkLW) Erwin denied the motion last week.

“At the time of sentencing, the Court considered all relevant mitigating and aggravating circumstances surrounding the charge,” Erwin wrote in his denial. “The sentence imposed by this Court falls within the statutory guidelines recommended for the charge.

“The defendant makes no allegations of fact, which would warrant alteration of the sentence in any way,” he added. “The Court sees no reason to modify the defendant’s sentence at this time.”

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed Charlotte Staggs’ conviction and sentence Nov. 1, 2013 - four days before her motion for reconsideration was filed at the 19th Judicial District Court. The appellate court noted then that it did not consider her excessiveness claim because the motion had not been filed and acted on by Erwin.

But the 1st Circuit said Charlotte Staggs would be able to appeal any adverse ruling on the motion if it was filed timely, which it was.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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