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Donald Ray Dickerson

A felon convicted of severely beating a St. Francisville man at a north Baton Rouge convenience store in 2013 after telling the victim he was in the "wrong neighborhood" has failed to convince the state's top court that his life prison term as a habitual offender is excessive.

Donald Ray Dickerson, 46, of Baton Rouge, was found guilty in 2015 of second-degree battery in the brutal attack on David Ray III and sentenced to life behind bars in 2016.

State District Judge Lou Daniel imposed the sentence after East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors asked the judge to declare Dickerson a fourth-felony offender. He has prior convictions for armed robbery, simple robbery and purse snatching.

Dickerson claims his conduct at Stadium Chevron on Scenic Highway did not amount to second-degree battery and that his sentence is unconstitutionally excessive.

The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed with him last year, and the Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday let the appellate court ruling stand.

Justice Scott Crichton noted that Dickerson "engaged in a violent and unprovoked attack that resulted in serious and substantial injuries to the victim."

Ray was hospitalized with a broken eye socket, broken nose and other injuries.

"Although the defendant claims a life sentence is unconstitutionally excessive because the victim did not die from the injuries he inflicted, I believe the sentence imposed ... is warranted by defendant's repeated recourse to violence," Crichton wrote.

The justice added that the state "wisely exercised the discretion to pursue recidivist sentence enhancement to promote public safety."

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday that Dickerson's record and his behavior support the court's ruling.

"The Louisiana Supreme Court reached the appropriate decision in upholding this defendant's conviction, habitual offender status and sentence," Moore said.

Dickerson filed the Supreme Court appeal on his own.

The Mother's Day 2013 incident was probed initially as a possible hate crime. Dickerson is black and Ray is white, but Ray said immediately after the 2015 verdict that race never entered his mind.

"We don't want to be a symbol of hatred," he added. "That's not who we are."

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.

During the trial, prosecutors called Dickerson a "schoolyard bully" and "dime-store hoodlum and thug."

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.