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Kennedy v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 9, 2018

ERIC DENORRIS KENNEDY A/K/A ERIC D. KENNEDY A/K/A ERIC KENNEDY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/15/2016

         HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. WINSTON L. KIDD TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ERIC DENORRIS KENNEDY (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND WILSON, JJ.

          CARLTON, J.

         ¶1. Following the Hinds County Circuit Court's order denying his motion for postconviction relief (PCR), Eric Kennedy filed a motion requesting that the circuit court reopen the time to file a notice of appeal. The circuit court denied Kennedy's motion. Kennedy now appeals.

         ¶2. After our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the circuit court's denial of Kennedy's motion for an out-of-time appeal. We therefore affirm the circuit court's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶3. In 1997, a Hinds County grand jury indicted Kennedy and Nakiea Sutton for capital murder, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-3-19(2) (Supp. 1997), stemming from the burglary and subsequent murder of Thomas Ward.

         ¶4. On June 10, 1998, Kennedy pleaded guilty to the lesser-included offense of murder. The record reflects that in exchange for Kennedy pleading guilty, the State would recommend that Kennedy receive a sentence of life in prison. The plea petition reflects that the State would also agree not to seek adjudication of Kennedy's guilt in another matter that was then pending.

         ¶5. At the plea hearing, Kennedy testified that he had reviewed his plea petition with his attorney, and that he understood it. Kennedy testified that he also understood the allegations set forth against him, and he admitted that he did commit the alleged crime.

         ¶6. The circuit court explained that by pleading guilty, Kennedy waived the right to appeal his conviction, and Kennedy testified that he understood that fact. Kennedy also swore that he had not been threatened or promised anything in exchange for his guilty plea. Kennedy assured the circuit court that he was satisfied with his counsel's services, and thought he had been properly advised and represented. Kennedy's counsel stated that, based on his conversations with Kennedy, he thought Kennedy fully understood the consequences of pleading guilty. After questioning Kennedy and his counsel, the circuit court accordingly found that Kennedy's guilty plea was "intelligently and understandingly" made and accepted the plea. The circuit court sentenced Kennedy to serve life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

         ¶7. The record reflects that Kennedy filed his first PCR motion in 1998. The record further reflects that the circuit court denied Kennedy's ...


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