A convicted felon found guilty last year of beating a St. Francisville man at a north Baton Rouge convenience store after telling the man he was in the “wrong neighborhood” should be sentenced to life in prison as a habitual offender, a prosecutor told a judge Thursday.
Donald Ray Dickerson had three prior felony convictions when an East Baton Rouge Parish jury convicted him in June of second-degree battery in the brutal Mother’s Day 2013 attack on David Ray III at Stadium Chevron on Scenic Highway, prosecutors contend in a habitual offender charge filed Thursday against Dickerson.
State District Judge Lou Daniel scheduled a hearing and sentencing for April 21.
Dickerson, 44, of Baton Rouge, is contesting the attempt to classify him as a fourth-felony offender.
Dickerson’s lead attorney, Bernard Blair, complained outside Daniel’s 19th Judicial District courtroom that East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors are overreaching and overreacting.
Those prosecutors want Dickerson sentenced as a fourth-felony offender, a classification that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
Dickerson, according to the habitual offender bill filed by prosecutor Chris Hester, pleaded guilty in Baton Rouge state court in 1990, 1991 and 2002 to purse snatching, armed robbery and simple robbery, respectively, and received sentences of five years of supervised probation, 10 years in prison and three years in prison.
Last year, a six-person jury convicted Dickerson after 90 minutes of deliberation.
“The State moves for a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of the defendant’s life, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence,” the habitual offender bill states.
The 2013 incident was investigated initially as a possible hate crime because Dickerson is black and Ray is white, but Ray said immediately after the verdict that race never entered his mind. “We don’t want to be a symbol of hatred. That’s not who we are,” he said.
Trial testimony indicated words were exchanged between Dickerson and Ray about the pink shirt Ray was wearing the night he was knocked unconscious by Dickerson in front of Ray’s wife and young daughters.
Ray was hospitalized with a broken eye socket, broken nose and other injuries. His wife and eldest daughter also were punched when they tried to come to Ray’s aid.
Devin Bessye and Ashley Simmons were issued summonses for simple battery, a misdemeanor, for allegedly hitting Ray’s wife and daughter, but officers chose not to book Bessye and Simmons into Parish Prison. The officers were later counseled by their superiors for an error in judgment.