OF JUDGMENT: 01/25/2016
FROM WHICH APPEALED: COVINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON.
WILLIAM R. BARNETT JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DAVID YATES (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND CARLTON, JJ.
David Yates, appearing pro se, appeals the Covington County
Circuit Court's denial of his motion for post-conviction
relief (PCR). Finding no error, we affirm.
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In July 2009, Yates was indicted for one count of sexual
battery of a child under the age of fourteen, and one count
of fondling of a child under the age of sixteen, under
Mississippi Code Annotated sections 97-3-95(1)(d) and 97-5-23
(Rev. 2014), respectively.Yates entered an open plea to both
counts before Special Circuit Court Judge Frank Vollor. The
trial court accepted the guilty plea and ordered a
presentencing report. Judge Vollor sentenced Yates to life in
the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(MDOC) for the sexual-battery charge and fifteen years for
the fondling charge, to be served consecutively.
Yates filed a timely pro se PCR motion alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel, an involuntary guilty plea, and lack
of a factual basis for his plea. In support of his claims,
Yates attached to the PCR motion his own
affidavit and an affidavit from his
sister who, along with other family members, had
been present at Yates's meetings with defense counsel.
An evidentiary hearing was held on Yates's PCR motion
with William Barnett, special circuit court judge, presiding.
Yates's former public defense counsel, Oby Rogers,
testified, as did Yates. Rogers recollected that Yates gave a
knowing, voluntary, and informed plea. He claimed that the
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation had been very involved in
the case, and had "a pretty well put together
file." Rogers testified:
Mr. Yates chose to plead guilty after advising him of what I
thought were the facts that would be presented at trial. . .
. I went over to [Yates] and I told [Yates], "I
understand your version and I understand the State's
version. And what I'm worried about is what version . . .
the jurors [will] believe."
reviewing the State's file and the video statements of
Yates and his wife/codefendant, it was Rogers's opinion
that Yates would be convicted of both counts, and he told
Yates so. Rogers admitted telling Yates the benefits of
giving an open plea, but denied telling Yates what he thought
the judge would or could do, or that if convicted by a jury
Yates would be sentenced to life. Two identically worded
affidavits were also submitted at the evidentiary hearing, in
support of Yates's claims. The ...