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Lofton v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 6, 2017

JOHN H. LOFTON A/K/A JOHN HENRY LOFTON A/K/A JOHN LOFTON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/13/2015

         OKTIBBEHA 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

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. John H. Lofton appeals the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his motion for postconviction relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. 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.

         ¶3. 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.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶4. "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)).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5. 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, ...


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