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Salter v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 2, 2015

WILLIAM DWAYNE SALTER A/K/A WILLIAM SALTER APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/15/2014

GEORGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. DALE HARKEY TRIAL JUDGE:

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM DWAYNE SALTER (PRO SE)

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND JAMES, JJ.

JAMES, J.

¶1. William Dwayne Salter (pro se) filed a third petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) with the Circuit Court of George County. The trial court dismissed Salter's petition. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. On April 16, 2001, Salter pled guilty to burglary, armed robbery, and kidnapping. Salter was sentenced to six thirty-year concurrent sentences on four counts of kidnapping and two counts of armed robbery, and a seven-year consecutive sentence for burglary, all to be served in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

¶3. At the plea hearing, Salter was represented by Fred Dobbins, who is now deceased. The trial court questioned Salter and determined that he understood the constitutional rights he was waiving by pleading guilty, that he understood the maximum and minimum sentences he could receive, and that he had not been promised anything or coerced into pleading guilty. Salter v. State, 876 So.2d 412, 414 (¶3) (Miss. Ct. App. 2003).

¶4. Following Salter's conviction, he retained a new attorney, Robert Knockel, for the purpose of seeking PCR. On April 15, 2002, Salter filed a PCR petition contending that (1) the kidnapping was merely incidental to the commission of the armed robbery and not a separate and distinct crime; (2) he was denied effective assistance of counsel at his sentencing, because he and his mother were willing to testify regarding his mental health and provide mitigating evidence before sentencing; and (3) the trial court failed to make sure he had full knowledge of the critical elements of the charges against him. Id. at 413-14, 415-16 (¶¶1, 10). The trial court denied relief and this Court affirmed. Id. at 417 (¶15). We found that Salter failed to show that his counsel's performance was deficient or that he was prejudiced, as required by the test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Salter, 876 So.2d at 416 (¶12).

¶5. On April 3, 2009, Salter, pro se, filed a second PCR petition. He contended that his guilty plea was involuntary and that his trial counsel was ineffective because both his trial attorney and the trial court misinformed him about his eligibility for parole and earned-time release. Salter v. State, 64 So.3d 514, 517 (¶6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2010). Salter claimed he would have opted to proceed to trial instead of pleading guilty had he been informed that he was not eligible for parole and earned-time release. Id. The trial court dismissed the petition as a successive writ under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-39-23(6) (Supp. 2014). Salter, 64 So.3d at 515 (¶1).

¶6. On appeal, Salter argued that the newly-discovered-evidence exception to the procedural bar was applicable because he spent approximately eight years in prison thinking he would become eligible for parole and earned time after his tenth year. Id. at 516 (¶13). He claimed he was first informed that he was not eligible for parole and earned time during the eighth year of his sentence when he began asking questions about what he thought was an upcoming parole hearing. Id. Salter also argued that his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and an involuntary guilty plea invoked the fundamental-right exception to the procedural bars. Id. at 517-18 (¶14).

¶7. As to Salter's newly-discovered-evidence argument, we held: "The concept of newly discovered evidence does not embrace a prisoner's untimely realization that legal errors occurred at his trial. Accordingly, we have held that a prisoner's failure to understand the law until conducting research into his case does not constitute newly discovered evidence." Id. at 517 (¶13) (quoting Pickle v. State, 942 So.2d 243, 246 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2006)). As to Salter's fundamental-right argument, we found that "[t]he supreme court has held that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and involuntary guilty pleas are indeed subject to the procedural bars." Id. at 518 (¶14) (citing Kirk v. State, 798 So.2d 345, 346 (ΒΆ6) (Miss. 2000)). Accordingly, we found that Salter's ...


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