DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/10/94 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. KEITH STARRETT COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST CONVICTION RELIEF DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 2/26/98 MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: MANDATE ISSUED:
Before Pittman, P.j., McRAE And Roberts, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pittman, Presiding Justice, For The Court:
THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-A
This is an appeal from a denial of relief under the Uniform Post Conviction Collateral Relief Act dated February 18, 1994. On August 6, 1990 Donald Ray King was indicted for capital murder by the grand jury of Lincoln County. King was arraigned on capital murder on September 6, 1990. On September 11, 1990, an Order amending indictment to charge one count of murder and one count of robbery was filed. King pled guilty to the amended indictment on September 11, 1990. The lower court accepted King's plea along with the State's recommendation on this same day. King was sentenced to a term of life in prison for the murder charge to run consecutively with fifteen years for the charge of robbery. On February 3, 1993, King filed a Post Conviction Collateral Relief Motion. The original "Change of Plea and Sentence" Order stated that the defendant was adjudicated guilty of murder and burglary. In his Order overruling King's Motion for Post Conviction Relief, Judge Starrett ordered that the original order be amended to correctly read that the conviction in count two was for robbery and not burglary. The lower court set February 10, 1994, as the date for an evidentiary hearing on King's Motion. While there is no transcript of the evidentiary hearing contained within the designated record, it is apparent from Judge Starrett's order overruling PCR Motion that an evidentiary hearing was held. The trial court denied King's Motion on February 18, 1994. King timely appealed to this Court raising the following issues: (1) he was denied effective assistance of counsel; (2) his guilty plea was involuntary as a matter of law because the trial court failed to advise him of the minimum and maximum sentences as required by Rule 3.03(2), MUCRCCP; (3) his guilty plea was involuntary because his counsel coerced him to plead guilty by advising him that he would receive the death penalty if he did not do so; and (4) his sentence for the crime of burglary was illegal because he was never indicted for said crime.
On February 12, 1990, Donald Ray King used a box cutter and cut the throat of his eighty year old great aunt, Zadie McNair. King was attempting to rob his aunt of $22.94 at the time of the murder. At the time of the murder, King had been living with his aunt for approximately eleven years. By King's own admittance, the victim in this case did nothing to "cause it." King turned himself into the police station resulting in his indictment and ultimately a sentence of "life plus" in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. ANALYSIS PROCEDURAL BAR
Prior to addressing the argument on the merits, this Court recognizes the procedural bar affecting this Motion and ultimately the case sub judice. King asks this Court to"vacate and set aside plea of guilty, sentence and conviction," but cites no authority. This Court in Johnson v. State, 626 So. 2d 631, 634 (Miss. 1993) held that claims with no citation are not properly before this Court. In order to meet the burden of proving trial court error, the appellant must make a plausible argument citing appropriate authorities. Wood v. Gulf States Capital Corp., 217 So. 2d 257, 273 (Miss. 1968). Where appellant fails to support an issue, the Court presumes the issue to be without merit. Id.
This Court does apply the procedural bar, however, the bar, notwithstanding, the merits of the case are addressed below.
I. APPELLANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF THE 6TH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.
III. APPELLANT'S PLEA WAS COERCED BY COUNSEL WHERE APPELLANT WAS ADVISED BY COUNSEL, INTENTIONALLY, THAT HE WOULD BE SENTENCED TO DEATH IF HE DID NOT PLEAD GUILTY.
King's first and third assignments of error address the actions of his counsel. For that reason, this Court will address those two issues together. King argues that his attorney "urged and coerced him to appear before the Circuit Court and enter pleas of guilty to the charges and accept a life sentence." King contends that he was not guilty of the charges because he did not know what he was doing at the time of the incident and he was insane. However, the report contained within the record recording the findings of Dr. Allan K. Hearne, the clinical psychologist who performed a mental examination on King at the request of King's attorney and as ordered by the lower court, revealed that "he was not clinically or legally insane at the time of the incident."
King further argues that his attorney never made any effort to investigate his case, possible witnesses, mitigating circumstances of the crime, his history with the victim, the possibility of the insanity defense, or to question King himself about the incident. This Court finds that these claims are without merit. Evidence contained within the designated record in this case makes it perfectly clear that each of the issues King cites in support of his argument for ineffective assistance of counsel are entirely unjustified and without merit. In fact, King's attorney, filed seventeen pretrial motions and pleadings.
Moreover, King claims that his attorney told him that "if he did not plead guilty to the crimes, that the State would take him to trial and sentence him to the death penalty." However, there is nothing contained within the designated record to support or substantiate such a claim by King. In fact, King's assertion is the only indication that counsel told him that he would get the death penalty if he did not plead guilty. As the State points out in its brief, "a plea of guilty entered to avoid the death penalty is not per se invalid." Hill v. State, 388 So. 2d 143 (Miss. 1980). This Court finds that the trial Judge was careful to explain to King that he was waiving "constitutional rights." Clearly developed by the Judge's questioning of King is the fact that ...