Repeat offender who attacked, severely beat French Quarter musician gets life sentence vacated

NEW ORLEANS — One of two men who brutally attacked a French Quarter musician and caused permanent brain damage had his life sentence vacated by a district judge today.

According to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s Office, the judge vacated the previous life sentence of Terrell Belvin and imposed a new sentence of 20 years for his role in the beating of  French Quarter musician. Doug Potter.

Potter was returning to his car with his upright bass following a late-night gig, and was left permanently brain-damaged from an assault by Belvin and co-defendant Reeshawn Arnold on Jan. 21, 2014.

The judge’s decision to vacate the life sentence — and to do so without allowing Potter’s family to give a victim-impact statement — did not sit well with Cannizzaro’s office or Potter’s family.

“Doug Potter suffered significant and life-changing brain damage as the result of this vicious attack,” Cannizzaro said. “To so drastically reduce this violent offender’s sentence without so much as providing the Potter family a chance to be heard, or to assess for himself the lasting consequences of this defendant’s criminal conduct, is outrageous. The rights of Louisiana crime victims should not be so easily disregarded.”

“I am disheartened and angry that in this day and time the victim is no longer important,” Cynthia Potter said. “The public defender is ‘thrilled’ that Terrell Belvin will get to live his life again outside of Angola! What about the victim’s right?

“Have they forgotten what was done to my husband — six brain surgeries, months spent in hospital, learning to walk, talk and even swallow again? And here we are 4 1/2 years later and my husband will never be the same. The residual effects of the beating they gave my husband are too numerous to count. Shouldn’t there be justice in our justice system? But for excellent medical care and the grace of God my husband would be dead! I guess then maybe he would be more important.”

Arnold pleaded guilty as charged to second-degree battery and received a five-year sentence from Derbigny. Arnold currently is out on parole, having earned a good-time release from Department of Corrections custody on May 25, 2018.

Belvin opted to stand trial and was convicted of second-degree battery by a New Orleans jury on Dec. 10, 2015. His five-year sentence from Derbigny was extended to mandatory life following a multiple-bill hearing proving his previous felony convictions for cocaine distribution. A January 2018 decision by the Supreme Court allowed for the reconsideration of sentences for some multiple-felony offenders.

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