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Smith v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 9, 2018

RODNEY WAYNE SMITH A/K/A HOT ROD APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/06/2017

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED PEARL RIVER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, TRIAL JUDGE HON. DINA RICHELLE LUMPKIN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: DANIEL HINCHCLIFF

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: ALICIA AINSWORTH

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: HALDON J. KITTRELL

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.

          WILSON, J.,

         ¶1. Following a jury trial in the Pearl River County Circuit Court, Rodney Wayne Smith was convicted under Mississippi Code Annotated section 97-9-45 (Rev. 2014), which makes it a crime for "any person sentenced to the Mississippi Department of Corrections [(MDOC)] for any term [to] escape or attempt to escape from his particular unit or camp of confinement or the boundaries of the penitentiary as a whole." At the time of his "escape," Smith was on "house arrest" under the jurisdiction of the MDOC in the "Intensive Supervision Program" (ISP). See Miss. Code Ann. §§ 47-5-1001 through -1015 (Rev. 2015). Smith cut his monitoring device off his ankle and fled. Smith claims that his conviction must be reversed and rendered because an escape from house arrest does not constitute an escape from the "penitentiary" under section 97-9-45. However, the Legislature has made clear that an escape from house arrest is a felony escape. See Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-1007(8) (Rev. 2015). Therefore, Smith's conviction under section 97-9-45 is affirmed.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. The only issue that Smith raises on appeal is an issue of statutory interpretation that does not turn on the particular facts of his case. Therefore, we only generally summarize the underlying facts that led to his indictment and conviction in this case.[1]

         ¶3. On May 12, 2014, Smith pled guilty to racketeering, Miss. Code Ann. § 97-43-5 (Rev. 2014), and was sentenced to twenty years in MDOC custody, with eighteen years suspended, two years of ISP (house arrest), and eighteen years of post-release supervision. While on ISP, Smith was required to wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle at all times, and he was allowed to leave his home in Poplarville only to go to work or to attend other meetings or activities preapproved by his ISP officer, Scott Davis. On December 22, 2014, Smith failed to report to Davis as required by his ISP agreement. Davis used Smith's electronic monitoring device to locate him at his girlfriend's house in Picayune.[2] However, by the time Davis reached Smith's girlfriend's house, Smith had already left. Davis then received notice of a "device tamper," which meant that Smith had cut his monitoring device off of his ankle. Smith had left the device at his house. Davis tried to call Smith several times, but Smith would not answer his phone.

         ¶4. On January 6, 2015, Davis received information that Smith was at another house in Pearl River County. Davis went to the house with two officers from the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department, but when they arrived at the house, Smith fled into the woods and escaped. United States Marshals finally caught Smith on January 13, 2015, at his ex-wife's house in Hancock County.

         ¶5. Smith was indicted for escape under section 97-9-45, supra, as a nonviolent habitual offender. See Miss. Code Ann. ยง 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015). Smith filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that his escape from house arrest was not subject to prosecution under section 97-9-45; however, the circuit court denied his motion. Smith was then convicted following a jury trial in the Pearl River ...


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