JOHN H. LOFTON A/K/A JOHN HENRY LOFTON A/K/A JOHN LOFTON APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 11/13/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LEE J. HOWARDTRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN H. LOFTON (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
John H. Lofton appeals the Oktibbeha County Circuit
Court's summary dismissal of his motion for
postconviction relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 13, 1993, Lofton was indicted by an Oktibbeha County
grand jury on one count of aggravated assault, one count of
kidnapping, and three counts of capital rape. On October 22,
1993, Lofton pleaded guilty to the aggravated-assault charge,
the kidnapping charge, and one of the capital-rape charges.
The two remaining capital-rape charges were retired in
exchange for his guilty plea. The trial court accepted and
entered Lofton's guilty plea, and then sentenced Lofton
to twenty years for aggravated assault, twenty years for
kidnapping, and life imprisonment for capital rape. The
assault sentence was ordered to run consecutively to the life
sentence, and the kidnapping sentence was ordered to run
concurrently with the other sentences.
In October 2015, Lofton filed a PCR motion with the circuit
court. Lofton's PCR motion claimed that the trial court
did not have the authority to sentence him to life
imprisonment for the rape conviction under Mississippi Code
Annotated section 97-3-65(2) (Rev. 1993). The circuit court
dismissed Lofton's PCR motion without an evidentiary
hearing, finding that Lofton was properly sentenced under
section 97-3-65(1)-the subsection under which Lofton pleaded
guilty. Lofton now appeals.
"This Court employs the clearly-erroneous standard of
review when reviewing a trial court's summary dismissal
of a PCR motion." Carter v. State, 204 So.3d
791, 793 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Jones
v. State, 174 So.3d 902, 905 (¶8) (Miss. Ct. App.
2015)). "When questions of law are raised, however, this
Court employs a de novo standard of review."
Id. "If it plainly appears from the face of the
motion, any annexed exhibits, and the prior proceedings in
the case that the movant is not entitled to any relief, the
judge may make an order for its dismissal and cause the
petitioner to be notified." Id. (quoting Miss.
Code Ann. § 99-39-11(2) (Rev. 2015)).
Lofton argues that his sentence of life imprisonment for
capital rape is illegal. For support, he cites Mississippi
Code Annotated section 97-3-65(2) (Rev. 1993), which at the
time of his conviction read, ...