Court tosses out 75-year sentence
Man accused of sexual battery, molestation will be retried
Michael Bates was charged with two counts of sexual battery and the molestation of a juvenile on April 29, 2010 and entered a not guilty plea in St. Charles Parish to both charges. On Jan. 13, 2011, a 12-person jury found Bates guilty and he was sentenced to concurrent sentences of 75 years of hard labor without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
However, due to a technicality Bates’ sentence was reversed and his case was sent back to district court. According to the state’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, Bates’ prosecution was instituted by a bill of information. However, the court ruled that those answering for a crime punishable by life imprisonment must be indicted by a grand jury.
Bates was never indicted.
"At the time of the offenses, the crimes of molestation of a juvenile and sexual battery were punishable by life imprisonment, where the juvenile was proven to be under the age of thirteen. In the instant case, the victim was nine years old at the time of these offenses. Therefore, prosecution for either or both offenses with which the defendant is charged can be instituted only by grand jury indictment," the court ruled. "We are mindful of the inconvenience to the parties as well as the renewed trauma to the victim; however, because the State has failed to properly institute prosecution, we are compelled to set aside defendant’s convictions and sentences and remand the matter to the district court."
After the court of appeal’s ruling on March 27, Bates was quickly indicted by a St. Charles Parish grand jury on April 25 and was arrested on May 21. The alleged crimes took place between Jan. 1, 2007 and June 22, 2007 when Bates acted inappropriately with a 9-year-old girl on two separate occasions.
He is being held at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center under a $500,000 bond.
Motions in Bate’s case are scheduled for July 9.
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