Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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Robert Casey was convicted by jury of possession of cocaine, for which the circuit court sentenced him to serve twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with four years suspended pending completion of four years’ post-release supervision. Casey appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by declining to suppress cocaine found on his person and that his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial were violated. Because Casey’s arguments were without merit, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence. View "Casey v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Cynthia Robinson was convicted of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone after being intercepted by police on her way to meet a confidential informant. On appeal, Robinson contended the trial court erred by denying her motion for a mental evaluation. Robinson’s counsel asserted that Robinson was not effectively assisting in her own defense and pointed to Robinson’s YouTube videos espousing conspiracy theories and to her prior diagnosis of a drug-induced psychotic disorder. Robinson personally asked the court to deny the motion, which it ultimately did: the trial judge cited his prior experience with Robinson and his prior findings that she was “reasonable and rational” and had “presented herself well . . . before the Court.” Robinson testified in her own defense, and she appeared fully aware of the allegations against her and presented a coherent theory of her defense. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Robinson’s convictions and sentences. View "Robinson v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Dontorius Ware was indicted, charged and convicted for the murder of Roy Lee Washington. He appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence presented against him at trial. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court determined sufficient evidence supported the verdict, because the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, and because Ware did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel, it affirmed the conviction and sentence. View "Ware v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Eddie Howard was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of eighty-four-year-old Georgia Kemp. Howard was tied to the crime by Dr. Michael West, who identified Howard as the source of bite marks on Kemp’s body. At trial, Dr. West testified that he was a member of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) and that he had followed its guidelines in rendering his opinion. But since Howard’s trial, the ABFO revised those guidelines to prohibit such testimony, and this reflected a new scientific understanding that an individual perpetrator could not be reliably identified through bite-mark comparison. This, along with new DNA testing and the paucity of other evidence linking Howard to the murder, compelled the Mississippi Supreme Court to conclude that Howardwasis entitled to a new trial. The Court therefore reversed the trial court’s denial of postconviction relief and vacated Howard’s conviction and sentence. View "Howard v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Michael Willis appealed his conviction for aggravated assault following a fight outside Kedarious' grandmother's home in which one person was shot and paralyzed. Counsel for his codefendant and nephew Kedarious Willis (Kedarious) filed a Lindsey brief with the appellate court, averring there were no meritorious arguments for appeal. After reviewing the errors Willis alleged, the Mississippi Supreme Court found no merit to his arguments. Therefore, the Court affirmed conviction. View "Willis v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Dalvin Latham was convicted by jury of robbery. He was sentenced to serve five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Latham appealed, arguing that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in two ways: (1) by failing to object to the admission of an overly suggestive photographic lineup; and (2) by refusing the trial court’s proffered jury instruction C–8: an instruction concerning the accuracy and reliability of the victim’s out-of-court identification of Latham as one of the persons who robbed her. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Latham failed to show the victim’s out-of-court identification was unreliable, and Latham failed to rebut the strong presumption that his trial counsel’s refusal of jury instruction C–8 was anything other than tactical and strategic. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed Latham’s conviction and sentence, and dismissed his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim with prejudice. View "Latham v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In February 2019, Gregory “Peanut” Walker was convicted of one count of fondling and two counts of sexual battery. Walker was sentenced to serve fifteen years on Count I, twenty-five years on Count II, and twenty-five years on Count III. These three sentences were made to run concurrently. Walker appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict only on Count II, digital sexual penetration. Walker contends also that his due process rights and his right to a fair trial were violated because the State adduced testimony regarding Walker’s post-Miranda silence. Finding the evidence sufficient to sustain Walker's convictions, and that Walker "opened the door" for the State when he testified he had refused to give a statement to the police, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Walker v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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After two felony convictions and consecutive sentences for selling cocaine, Atiba Parker later pled guilty to a third felony, cocaine possession. The judge sentenced Parker as a subsequent offender to eight years on the possession charge, to be served concurrently with Parker's two cocaine sales convictions. Based on the two drug dealing convictions, the judge also sentenced Parker as a habitual offender. After serving a quarter of each of his first two felony sentences, Parker asked the Mississippi Department of Corrections for a parole date on his cocaine possession sentence. MDOC determined Parker was parole eligible on the two cocaine sale sentences. But because Parker had been sentenced as a habitual offender on his cocaine possession charge, and had not yet completed his mandatory eight year possession sentence, he was ineligible for parole. So no parole date was set on his cocaine possession conviction. After exhausting MDOC’s Administrative Remedy Program (ARP), Parker filed a complaint in circuit court seeking judicial review. The circuit court agreed with MDOC and affirmed its parole decision. Parker then appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Because time remained on Parker’s habitual offender sentence, he was statutorily prohibited from receiving parole for his cocaine possession conviction. The Supreme Court thus affirmed MDOC’s parole denial. View "Parker v. Mallett" on Justia Law

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Alan Walker was convicted of the capital murder of Konya Edwards during the commission of sexual battery, for which he received the death sentence. He was also convicted of forcible rape and kidnapping, for which he was sentenced to thirty and thirty-five years, to run consecutively. On direct appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences, and denied Walker’s application for leave to file for post-conviction relief. Walker filed a successive post-conviction motion, arguing his counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. On remand to the trial court, Walker failed to meet his burden of proof that trial counsel had rendered deficient performance that prejudiced him. Finding no grounds to reverse the trial judge’s determination, the Court affirmed conviction and sentences. View "Walker v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Darrell Walter was convicted by jury of capital murder and aggravated assault, both enhanced by the use of a firearm. He was sentenced to life without parole for capital murder, ten years for aggravated assault, and an additional five years for the aggravated-assault firearm enhancement to run concurrent to the ten-year sentence. Walter’s counsel filed a “Lindsey” brief; Walter himself did not file a pro se brief. The Mississippi Supreme Court accepted defense counsel’s attestation there were no arguable issues for appeal. Finding the evidence sufficiently supported Walter’s convictions for capital murder with firearms enhancements, the Supreme Court affirmed conviction. View "Walter v. Mississippi" on Justia Law