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Yates v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 12, 2017

DAVID YATES APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/25/2016

         COURT 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

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

          BARNES, J.

         ¶1. 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.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. 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.[1]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.

         ¶3. 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[2] and an affidavit from his sister[3] who, along with other family members, had been present at Yates's meetings with defense counsel.

         ¶4. 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."

         After 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 ...


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