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Pitts v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 26, 2018

CLIFFORD PITTS APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/05/2017

          RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III Judge

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CLIFFORD PITTS (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

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

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         FOR THE COURT:

         ¶1. Clifford Pitts, appearing pro se, appeals the Rankin County Circuit Court's dismissal of his motion for post-conviction relief (PCR). After reviewing Pitts's guilty plea and sentencing hearing transcript, the circuit court found that Pitts was not entitled to any relief. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶2. On July 26, 2014, Clifford Pitts went to visit T.R.S.[1] T.R.S. is a 36-year-old female with Down Syndrome and mental delay. T.R.S. lived with her niece and caregiver, Madeline Randall. Pitts was married to T.R.S.'s mother who had passed away prior to the date in question. Despite her mother's death, T.R.S. still considered Pitts to be her step-father. Because of their relationship, Randall allowed Pitts to take T.R.S. to Wendy's to get a hamburger during his visit in Jackson.

         ¶3. Pitts contends that he and T.R.S. ordered their food inside, ate their food in the truck, and then he drove by his hotel to show her where he was staying while he was in town. Pitts maintains that they never went inside the hotel at any time.

         ¶4. T.R.S. was rather reserved when she arrived home, which cautioned Randall to suspect something was wrong. T.R.S. told Randall, "It was bad . . . he did it again." Randall immediately took T.R.S. to the hospital. T.R.S. later told the investigating officer that after Pitts took her to Wendy's, he took her to his hotel room where Pitts sexually penetrated her, before taking her home.

         ¶5. On July 26, 2014, Pitts was arrested by the Brandon Police Department for two counts of sexual battery. On February 19, 2015, a Rankin County Grand Jury indicted Pitts on two counts of sexual battery of a vulnerable person. On September 8, 2015, Pitts pleaded guilty to the charge of sexual battery of a vulnerable person while in a position of trust or authority.[2] On May 24, 2017, Pitts filed a PCR motion, which the trial court dismissed. Pitts timely appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. "When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's factual findings if they are clearly erroneous; however, we review the trial court's legal conclusions under a de novo standard of review." Purnell v. State, 126 So.3d 949, 951 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2013) (citing Hughes v. State, 106 So.3d 836, 838 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012)).

         DISCUSSION

         I.Whether the indictment failed to charge essential elementsrende ...


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