An appeals court has upheld the conviction and sentence for a Golden Meadow man serving life in prison for raping a toddler three years ago.
Eric Matherne, 27, was convicted of first-degree rape May 24, 2019.
District Judge Chris Boudreaux sentenced Matherne to life in prison without parole, probation or early release.
Matherne was arrested July 20, 2017, after a 20-month-old girl was taken to Lady of the Sea General Hospital with signs of sexual abuse, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office said. The girl was later transferred to Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.
At the time of the assault, the victim was staying at her aunt’s Galliano mobile home while her grandmother was on a fishing boat, prosecutors said. The grandmother sought medical attention after finding blood in the child’s diaper, prosecutors said. Physicians determined the toddler had suffered vaginal trauma and transferred her to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for surgery.
Though the defendant initially told detectives he didn’t know how the child was injured, he later said he found dried blood on his pelvis while taking a shower, authorities said. Detectives then interviewed him a second time.
Several jurors wept during the trial as they watched a video of Matherne confessing to the sexual assault.
Matherne’s attorney asked the judge to reconsider the sentence because his client had no prior felony convictions, was the father of three children and was employed.
After the judge denied that request, the defendant took his case to the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge. According to court papers, Matherne said his life sentence “makes no meaningful contribution to acceptable goals of punishment and is nothing more than a purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering.”
The appeals court found there was no reason to change the sentence.
“The defendant did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that he was exceptional such that the mandatory life sentence was not meaningfully tailored to his culpability, the gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the case,” the court said in its ruling last week. “Accordingly, there was no reason for the trial court to deviate from the provisions of (the law) in sentencing him. The sentence imposed was not grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offense and, therefore, was not unconstitutionally excessive.”
Matherne is currently serving his sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.