The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a decision Tuesday in the case of the State of Louisiana vs. Craig Oliphant.
Oliphant pled guilty to a charge of vehicular homicide on July 19, 2009 stemming from a Feb. 8, 2009 vehicular accident where he was driving a vehicle that struck and killed Cravis M. Scott, a pedestrian walking on the side of the road. Judge Robert Johnson sentenced Oliphant to 25 years in prison at hard labor, with credit for time served. Johnson also reduced the term of parole ineligibility to 15 years.
Oliphant appealed the sentence and the Court of Appeals reversed the portion of the sentence designating vehicular homicide as a crime of violence. The sentence was vacated and the case was remanded to the 4th District Court with instructions that the sentence not exceed 15 years. The appellant court did not view the crime as a crime of violence because the offense "does not necessarily require, as an essential element, the use, the attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another."
The court also stated that the sentence was unconstitutionally excessive.
The Supreme Court, however, found that vehicular homicide is in fact a crime of violence and reversed the Court of Appeal's decision. They also stated that because this was a crime of violence, Oliphant must serve at least 85 percent of his full term before becoming eligible for parole.
The Supreme Court then vacated Oliphant's sentence and remanded the matter back to the 4th Distinct Court for reconsideration of sentence.
Morehouse Parish Assistant District Attorney Devin Jones agrees with the new decision.
"The Supreme Court ruled that this was a crime of violence and we stand behind that ruling," Jones said. "Mr. Oliphant drove his vehicle while highly intoxicated and struck Mr. Scott with enough force to kill him. His actions are no different than someone putting a bullet in a gun, pointing it at another human, pulling the trigger and killing that person."