Baton Rouge teen convicted of second-degree murder in a 2014 fatal shooting on La Margie Avenue _lowres

Brandon Boyd

The Louisiana Supreme Court has agreed to review a Baton Rouge teen's sentence of life without parole, a punishment he and his attorney claim is unconstitutionally excessive.

Brandon Boyd was 17 in 2014 when he fired a gun several times into a La Margie Avenue street brawl in which he was not involved, killing a 24-year-old man and wounding a 19-year-old man.

Boyd, now 23, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2016, and after a sentencing hearing was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars with no possibility of parole.

State District Judge Beau Higginbotham found Boyd to be "the worst of the worst type of person."

When dealing with juvenile killers, the U.S. Supreme Court has said, life without parole terms should be reserved for the worst cases and worst offenders.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday there did not appear to be anything in the record that would suggest Boyd’s actions were a consequence of disability, extraordinary circumstances, impulsivity, or transient immaturity.

"His conduct appears to be indicative of a willful disregard for the lives of others and deserving of the judge’s imposition of the more severe penalty of life without parole," Moore said.

Boyd's attorney, Michael Fiser, has told the state Supreme Court that Boyd was in school at Northdale Academy and had an honor roll report card at the time of the killing. Boyd's father died when Brandon was 14, and shortly after that he lost two grandparents, Fiser added.

Fiser is pushing for a life with parole sentence. For juvenile killers found not to be beyond rehabilitation, state law allows them a chance at a parole hearing after they've spent 25 years in jail.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal earlier this year affirmed Boyd's life without parole sentence, with Chief Judge Vanessa Whipple saying the fact that he was a first-time offender "does little to mitigate the atrocity of the crime."

By firing several times into a fist fight, fellow Circuit Judge Mike McDonald said, more people could have been killed or injured, and he called Boyd "a threat to society" who "earned this sentence."

The state Supreme Court last week agreed to hear the case. A hearing date has not been set.

In documents filed at the high court in June, Fiser argues Higginbotham and the 1st Circuit "grossly misunderstood" the admonition that life without parole sentences are to be meted out for the worst offenders and the worst cases.

"Seventeen-year-old Boyd did not strangle an infant, burn someone alive, shoot a law enforcement officer, rape someone, or kill dozens in a sniper attack," Fiser wrote. "Juvenile offenders convicted of such extreme acts may genuinely merit a sentence that must terminate in old age and a pine box at Angola; but life without parole is not the reasonable and appropriate sentence here — not for this defendant and certainly not on this meager record."

Fiser acknowledged that an innocent bystander — Emanuelle Myles, 24, of Baton Rouge — was needlessly and tragically killed when Boyd fired shots at a street brawl.

"This is horrible and unacceptable, but in no way can this be called rare or exceptional," Fister stated.

Fiser alleged that Higginbotham and the 1st Circuit "have let the facts of the case overwhelm the analysis, erroneously fixating on the circumstances of Boyd's crime, without reference to any evidence bearing on the teenage defendant's possibility of rehabilitation (the 'transient immaturity' versus 'irreparable corruption' analysis)."

Boyd and Myles were among those who had gathered in a parking lot to watch four people fight, police have said. At some point during the fight, Boyd — who knew two of those involved in the fight — pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots.

Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.