FRANKIE L. WILLIAMS A/K/A FRANKIE WILLIAMS A/K/A FRANKIE LEE WILLIAMS APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 11/06/2017
SHARKEY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ISADORE W.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER W.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KATY TAYLOR GERBER JASON L. DAVIS
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: RICHARD EARL SMITH JR.
CARLTON, P.J., TINDELL AND McDONALD, JJ.
A Sharkey County grand jury indicted Frankie L. Williams for
murder (Count I) and possession of a firearm by a convicted
felon (Count II). A unanimous jury found Williams guilty as
charged. The trial court sentenced Williams to serve life
imprisonment for Count I and ten years for Count II in the
custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC),
with Williams's sentences to run concurrently. On appeal,
Williams asserts that (1) he is entitled to a new trial
because the trial court violated his right to represent
himself; and (2) he received ineffective assistance of
counsel because his lawyer should have stipulated to his
prior felony conviction rather than allowing the State to
offer the sentencing order into evidence. For the reasons
addressed below, we affirm Williams's sentences and
convictions. Based on the record, we find no merit to
Williams's claim that the trial court violated his right
of self-representation. We dismiss Williams's
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim without prejudice so
that he may pursue relief on this alleged error in a petition
for post-conviction relief.
OF THE FACTS AND COURSE OF PROCEEDINGS
Relevant Pre-trial Proceedings
Prior to Williams's trial, his defense counsel filed a
motion requesting that Williams undergo a mental evaluation
to ascertain certain issues, including whether Williams
suffered from any definable or recognizable mental
conditions; whether Williams would be able to assist counsel
in preparing a defense; and whether Williams was competent to
stand trial. The trial court granted the motion. There was no
request for an evaluation of whether Williams was competent
to waive representation.
In March 2017, after considering the psychological evaluation
reports provided, the trial court ordered that Williams
undergo additional mental evaluation, and, if deemed
necessary and appropriate, that Williams be admitted and
treated at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield,
Mississippi (Whitfield). At Williams's May 2017
competency hearing, the trial court stated, in relevant part,
that according to the report from the doctors at Whitfield,
Williams had the sufficient present ability to consult and
work with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational
understanding in preparation of a defense. There was no
finding that Williams desired to waive counsel and represent
himself. On the contrary, Williams raised the issue of
obtaining a bond reduction so he could get his own attorney,
rather than the lawyers appointed for him. The trial court
told Williams that if he wanted a bond reduction, or new
counsel, he would need to file a motion for that request. No
motion was filed.
Five months later, on the first day of trial, defense counsel
told the trial court, "I think [Williams] wants to fire
counsel." This statement was made out of Williams's
presence and the following discussion then took place between
counsel and the trial court:
COURT: It[']s too late for that[, ] and [Williams] is not
qualified to represent himself. So, just tell him that we are
going forward with the trial at this stage. I don't need
to hear any more from him[.] I've heard enough from him.
He has [two attorneys] who are able to represent him[, ] and
we are going forward unless he want[s] to plea.
DEFENSE: No, he does not want to plea. Is it permissible for
either me or him to make a motion before the [c]ourt that he
be permitted to try himself?
COURT: I've seen enough [of h]is antics over the last
four years to say that he is not qualified to serve as his
own counsel. I mean[, ] the record is [replete with] . . .
motions that he has filed pro se. I have dealt with a lot of
them trying to bend over backwards to understand his right to
do that[, ] but at some point[, ] and we are at the point[, ]
. . . procedure has to take over. We are going . . . into
trial and I cannot be here for two or three weeks trying to
decipher what his motions are. Most of them . . . I have
dealt with . . . as best that I could [while] not knowing
what he was trying to say and what he was trying to ask for.
But we are now at the edge of trial. I have a jury that is
going to be selected. I have to procedurally proceed in a way
that a higher court will be able to understand what I'm
doing. And therefore his learned attorneys are there to make
sure that we do it within the rules of the [c]ourt[, ] and we
are going to do that. Now, I will respect all of his rights[,
] and if he needs to ask a question[, ] I will let you go
back to the bench and ask whatever he wants to be asked of a
witness. We will do that as best we can and as long as we
don't [prolong] or get too far.
COURT: . . . But I am again making the ruling that he cannot
represent himself. The [c]ourt has over the last four years
dealt with pro se motions from Mr. Williams that have made no
sense at all[.] I won't say, no sense, but had no bearing
at all in terms of what the law really is. And we have tried
to accommodate him in that. We now are at the point that we
are going to trial and we have to have a court record so that
everyone understands what is going on. . . . [B]elieve me,
whatever witnesses he wants to call, I'm going to let him
call those witnesses. Whatever questions he wants to ask of
those witnesses[, ] he will ask through [counsel]. But I am
not going to let him prolong this. We will be here two or
three weeks with him trying to question a witness or even put
forth any argument. Now, if you want me to say that to him, I
will clear the courtroom and say that to him. But I am just
saying that I can't let him make a forest of this trial
here. [Counsel] will try this case and not him.
Later the same day, outside the hearing of the prospective
jurors, the following exchange took place between Williams
and the trial court:
WILLIAMS: [P]ertaining to the case that me and Mr. R and
[Mr. D],  he said, for the record, that I had asked
them to be excused but he said for some reason that-
COURT: Well, Mr. Williams[, ] let me tell you what I told
[counsel]. I am not-he has been appointed to represent you
along with [co-counsel]. . . . [T]he [c]ourt is ruling that
they are your attorneys. Now, I told them that if you have .
. . something to ask that you tell . . . them what you want
to ask and they will ask that question[, ] and if they think
that it is improper then [they] will . . . tell me that is
what you asked for and I will tell you whether or not I am
going to allow that question to be asked. You understand how
we are going to do it? . . . .
WILLIAMS: Well, it is pertaining to the point to (inaudible)
with governing to have a file and your class or process
against the law is to have what would be his true and
understanding of what his physical factors concerning the
State nor has the State determined to me that he is required
to be governor or ruler of this case.
WILLIAMS: For this fact, labor and-
COURT: Let me get something straight with you. Did you hear
what I said Mr. Williams?
WILLIAMS: He feels that his value should be-
COURT: I'm going to let you ask whatever question you
want to ask. But it will be through your attorneys and let
the record reflect that I am telling you that. Any question
that you want to ask of a witness or something like that then
it will be asked by [your attorneys]. That is all I'm
saying and if there is a dispute in terms of whether or not
it can be asked then they will present that to the [c]ourt[,
] and I will let you know my ruling . . . . And that is the
procedure that I am using going forward. . . .
WILLIAMS: For the record, it is understanding that me and
[Mr. R] are not in compliance of lawyer/client privilege.
COURT: . . . [Mr. R] is the attorney of record that has been
on this case for the last two years or a year and a half and
he is going to try it, along with [Mr. D], and anything that
you want to ask, as I said before, that it will be asked
WILLIAMS: For the record, I don't feel satisfied with his
COURT: Yes, sir.
WILLIAMS: [O]fficially, . . . [Mr. R], acting by counsel,
rules himself what he wants to (inaudible).
COUNSEL (Mr. R): He asked me to remove myself.
COURT: The [c]ourt has ordered you . . . to try this case.
Now, that is the order of the [c]ourt to try this case to the
best of your ability which I know that you will do and that
is all that the [c]ourt can ask you to do, along with
The State's first witness was Roy Sias, the Assistant
Chief of the Anguilla Police Department. He testified that
around 9:00 p.m. on August 23, 2012, he responded to a
shooting at the Double Luck Club in Anguilla, Mississippi.
When Officer Sias arrived, a group of thirty-five to fifty
people were gathered around a body on the street. The victim,
who was later identified as Patrick Tate, had been fatally
shot in the chest. Officer Sias testified that three or four