JOHN E. WRENN A/K/A JOHN EDWARD WRENN A/K/A JOHN WRENN APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 03/31/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. GERALD W. CHATHAM SR. Judge
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ANNA KATHERINE ROBBINS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD
John Wrenn pled guilty to the charge of possession of a
weapon by a convicted felon and was sentenced to ten years in
the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(MDOC). Wrenn pled guilty as a habitual offender under
Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015), so
his ten-year sentence was mandatory and without the
possibility of parole or probation.
Wrenn subsequently filed a pro se petition for
post-conviction relief (PCR) alleging, among other things,
that his plea was involuntary because his attorney and the
circuit court misinformed him of the applicable minimum
sentence. After an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court
denied Wrenn's petition. However, because Wrenn was
misinformed of the applicable minimum sentence under the
habitual offender statute, his guilty plea was involuntary as
a matter of law. Therefore, we reverse and render the circuit
court's judgment denying Wrenn's PCR petition and set
aside Wrenn's conviction.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In June 2011, Wrenn, a convicted felon, was indicted for
unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun in violation of
Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-37-5 (Rev. 2014). He
was indicted as a habitual offender under section 99-19-81.
Jack Jones was appointed as counsel for Wrenn, and the
circuit court set the case for trial in November 2011. Prior
to trial, the State offered to allow Wrenn to plead guilty as
a non-habitual offender with a sentencing recommendation of
five years to serve, followed by five years of post-release
supervision. Jones urged Wrenn to accept the State's
offer, but Wrenn declined.
On November 8, 2011-the day before his trial was scheduled to
begin-Wrenn filed a petition to enter a guilty plea. The
petition stated: "I plead guilty to the charge(s) of
felon in possession of a firearm in violation of Miss. Code
Ann. § 97-37-5 [and] § 99-19-81, as set forth in .
. . the indictment . . . ." The petition also stated:
My lawyer has informed me as to the maximum and minimum
punishment which the law provides for the offense charged in
the indictment. The maximum punishment which the Court may
impose for this crime that I am charged with is 10 years
imprisonment and $5, 000 fine. The minimum punishment is 1
years imprisonment and/or $0 fine.
words "without parole" were handwritten above the
words "10 years imprisonment" on the petition. A
handwritten entry in the petition described the terms of the
plea as follows: "open to charge in indictment";
"continued for sentencing"; "State makes no
At Wrenn's plea hearing on November 9, 2011, the judge
specifically asked Wrenn whether Jones had "been over
with [him] the implications . . . of offering a plea under
the habitual criminal statute" and whether Wrenn
understood that the statute "provides for enhanced
punishment." Wrenn answered both questions, "Yes,
sir." Moments later, the court again asked Wrenn,
"Do you understand that by signing this petition,
you're offering a plea of guilty to a felon in possession
of a firearm, and that, of course, carries enhanced
punishment under Section 99-19-81?" Wrenn again
answered, "Yes, sir."
However, later in the hearing, the court advised Wrenn of the
applicable maximum and minimum penalties as follows:
Q. The maximum penalty to which you could be sentenced by
offering a plea of guilty to these charges is ten years in
prison and a five thousand dollar fine. That ten years is
without parole or shortening or any credit for good time or
anything like that.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And the minimum punishment is one year in prison and
zero fine. Hasthat been ...