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Bolton v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 10, 2018

TIMOTHY L. BOLTON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/29/2016

          LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. PAUL S. FUNDERBURK, TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: TIMOTHY L. BOLTON (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ABBIE EASON KOONCE

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

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Timothy Bolton was indicted for and subsequently pled guilty to two counts of felony child abuse, first-degree arson, sexual battery, and ten felony counts of simple assault on a law enforcement officer. According to the factual basis for Bolton's guilty plea, Bolton locked himself in his home with his wife and two children, ages six and nine; repeatedly forced his wife to perform oral sex on him at knife-point; threatened to kill his wife; barricaded himself and his children in a closet; continually pointed a gun at his children's heads, using them as human shields throughout an overnight standoff with law enforcement; repeatedly threatened to kill the children and deputy sheriffs; and set fires in the closet at least three times, causing the children to be overcome by smoke inhalation. The circuit court accepted Bolton's plea and sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences and additional term-of-years sentences to run concurrently with the second life sentence.

         ¶2. Just under three years after he pled guilty, Bolton filed a motion for post-conviction relief alleging that his guilty plea was involuntary and that his former attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Bolton alleges that his former attorney, Judith Barnett, predicted ("informed [Bolton] that [she] anticipated") that the judge would sentence him to only ten years in prison, with five years suspended and only five years to serve. Barnett confirms this allegation in an affidavit submitted in support of Bolton's motion, although her affidavit does not explain the basis for the prediction. The circuit judge-who also conducted Bolton's plea hearing and imposed his sentence-denied Bolton's motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Bolton filed a timely notice of appeal and argues that the circuit court erred by rejecting his involuntary plea and ineffective assistance claims and by denying his motion without an evidentiary hearing.

         ¶3. We conclude that the circuit court correctly denied Bolton's motion. His attorney's sentencing prediction was just that-a prediction. Prior to accepting Bolton's plea, the circuit court conducted a thorough plea colloquy and clearly advised him of the applicable statutory maximum sentences and the court's full discretion to impose those sentences. Bolton's plea was voluntary, and his ineffective assistance claim fails as a matter of law. Accordingly, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Factual Background

         ¶4. On March 3, 2007, Bolton locked himself, his wife, and his two sons, ages six and nine, inside their house. Bolton forced his wife to perform oral sex on him repeatedly at knife-point. Bolton also forced his wife to smoke marijuana laced with methamphetamine. He told her that he was going to kill her after he was through with her, and he wanted the drugs to show up on her autopsy.

         ¶5. Bolton's wife eventually escaped through a window, called 911, and reported that Bolton was barricaded inside the house with their two children. Officers from the Lee County Sheriff's Department arrived at the house around 11 p.m. They made phone contact with Bolton and had several conversations with him, continuing until approximately 3:20 p.m. the following day, when Bolton was finally taken into custody.

         ¶6. During this time, a SWAT team breached the residence and found that Bolton had barricaded himself and the children in a bedroom closet. Bolton was armed with a pistol, and he set fires in the closet at least three times using an accelerant and a butane lighter. Officers managed to keep the door partially opened to allow air in to the children. However, Bolton held his children in front of him, using them as human shields. Bolton continually pointed his gun at his children's heads and told officers that he was going to kill his children unless the officers brought his wife inside to talk to him. Officers would not agree to bring Bolton's wife into the house.

         ¶7. At some point, Bolton crawled to the edge of the closet and began striking a nearby officer in the head with a metal rod, trying to get the closet door closed. Bolton repeatedly threatened to kill his children, and he told his children he was going to kill them. He also threatened to kill the officers and repeatedly pointed his pistol at them.

         ¶8. Later, smoke began to pour out of the closet so thickly that the officers stationed outside the closet had to rotate out of the home for air. Officers then set up fans to pull the smoke out of the bedroom. A doctor on the scene told officers that the door would have to be breached because the children were obviously weakening and could be heard crying out for help. Bolton eventually allowed one of his children to leave the closet. He then turned to his other child, again put ...


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