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Hutchins v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 31, 2015

DENNIS TERRY HUTCHINS A/K/A DENNIS HUTCHENS A/K/A DENNIS HUTCHINS A/K/A DENNIS HUTCHINGS A/K/A DENNIE TERRELL HUTCHINS A/K/A DENNIS T. HUTCHINS, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/23/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DENIED MOTION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

AFFIRMED.

FOR APPELLANT: LISA MISHUNE ROSS.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ. GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. IRVING, P.J., AND ROBERTS, J., CONCUR IN PART AND IN THE RESULT WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. JAMES, J., DISSENTS WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - POST-CONVICTION RELIEF

LEE, C.J.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶1] In 2011, a Forrest County grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against Dennis Hutchins. Prior to trial, the indictment was amended to charge Hutchins as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-83

Page 479

(Supp. 2014). In support of its motion to amend the indictment, the State produced the pen packs detailing Hutchins's convictions and sentences. Hutchins had been convicted of grand larceny in 1990, and simple assault on a police officer in 1991.

[¶2] The State proceeded to trial on two of the eight counts. A jury found Hutchins guilty of these two counts. Prior to sentencing, a plea deal was reached where Hutchins would plead guilty to two additional counts and, in return, be sentenced for all four counts under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Supp. 2014) rather than section 99-19-83. The trial court sentenced Hutchins to six years for each jury conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively to each other. The trial court also sentenced Hutchins to six years for each guilty-plea conviction, with those sentences to run consecutively to each other. However, the trial court set the sentences for the two jury convictions to run concurrently with the sentences imposed in the guilty-plea convictions, for a total of twelve years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). The sentencing order for the jury convictions stated Hutchins was sentenced as a habitual offender pursuant to section 99-19-81.

[¶3] Hutchins filed a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) alleging his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. According to Hutchins, his trial counsel should have objected to the motion to amend the indictment because Hutchins had not served one year for his conviction for simple assault on a police officer. After a hearing, the trial court denied Hutchins's PCR motion. Hutchins now appeals, asserting that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to object to the State's motion to amend the indictment to charge him as a habitual offender under section 99-19-83.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶4] When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's decision if it is clearly erroneous; however, we review the trial court's legal conclusions under a de novo standard of review. Hughes v. ...


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