LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) On Wednesday, Alisa Gothreaux, the Special Assistant District Attorney for Don Landry, and the defense attorney Alfred Boustany II, Alfred Boustany III, and Chase Manuel were in court in front of Judge Royale Colbert to finalize the record so that the State can appeal what it calls an “illegal sentence.”
“The case was several years old by the time we got to trial, and now it’s been over a year since the convicted, so this is just cause delay after delay the family wants to see justice, and part of that justice is going to see that lady who ran over the daughter go to jail, and they want to see that happen and until that’s finished and this matter is brought to a close, it won’t be finished for them,” said Gothreaux.
She explained that Louisiana law sets out specific sentencing ranges, and the crime of attempted first-degree murder requires that the first ten years of any sentence for attempted first-degree murder must be served at hard labor—not just a probated sentence.
In Dec. 2021, Nataja Portalis was convicted by a jury of the Attempted 1st Degree Murder of Mary Collins and Aggravated Battery of Clarissa Collins. In June of 2022, the district court initially sentenced Portalis to 10 years of hard labor without probation or parole. However, in Dec. 2022, in an “unusual move,” the court changed its mind and ordered that Portalis’ sentence be suspended and that she be put on probation without any mandatory time in jail.
“So the state is seeking to take that up to appeal it to the third circuit court of Appeal and have the appellate court review it. It’s really unusual, and it’s a deviation from the statutory scheme when a judge would do something like this,” she said. “I think we’re definitely in a good position to hopefully have a favorable outcome and put back in place that minimum mandatory sentence that the jury knew would be inevitable if they come back with that guilty finding if they did, in fact, do.”
Gothreaux adds, “When we go through the effort of bringing this matter to the people of the community and the jury comes back with a verdict, we’re going to support that verdict, and we’re going to support what the law said the sentencing scheme is and the case doesn’t stop at conviction we have to defend that conviction moving forward on these major cases, and we’re definitely committed to doing that.”
Although Boustany II did not want to speak on camera, he told News 10 that Portalis is paying restitution of about $250 a month while serving her probation of six years. Thus far, she has served one year of probation. He said Poratalis has been doing everything that she is supposed to be doing. She is with employment, and she has been taking anger management classes. He mentioned that the two sisters went after Portalis’ car, causing her to overreact. In addition, he said the judge suspended her ten-year sentence because he thought it would be excessive, being that she had no criminal record. However, if Portalis violates her probation, the judge can sentence her to jail.
In 30 days, Judge Colbert acquired the local court to prepare its records and sent them up to the appellate court for review. The assistant district attorney said they would be scheduling orders with the appellate court and filing their paperwork explaining why they think that the conviction and sentence imposed initially to 10 years of hard labor should stay in place. Check for the hearing updates which should be scheduled in the fall.