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Roby v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 18, 2019

THOMAS ROBY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/26/2018

          CLAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES T. KITCHENS JR. TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: THOMAS ROBY (PRO SE)

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

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., TINDELL AND McCARTY, JJ.

          BARNES, C.J.

         ¶1. Thomas Roby pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery. For each count, the trial court sentenced Roby to twelve years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with seven years to serve and five years of post-release supervision; the sentences were to run concurrently. Roby, appearing pro se, filed a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR), which the trial court dismissed. On appeal, Roby argues that his guilty plea was involuntary and had no factual basis. Finding no error, we affirm the dismissal of his PCR motion.

         FACTS

         ¶2. In April 2012, a Clay County grand jury indicted Roby for two counts of armed robbery. In March 2015, Roby, through counsel, filed a notice of an alibi defense, in which he alleged that on April 15, 2007-the date of the armed robberies-he had met with his probation officer in Illinois.

         ¶3. After several agreed continuances, Roby's trial was set for July 25, 2016; however, on that day, Roby failed to appear in court. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest. The next day, Roby's counsel filed a motion for continuance. He explained that on July 25, 2016, Roby had reported to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Columbus, Mississippi, and was physically unable to participate in his trial. Roby did appear, however, at the courthouse on July 26, having been released from the hospital the previous day. The State was prepared to go forward with trial, having subpoenaed witnesses who were present and ready to testify against Roby. With the jury set to return at 1:30 p.m. to commence trial proceedings, Roby decided to change his plea to guilty.

         ¶4. A plea hearing ensued. The trial judge questioned Roby in detail about his plea and discussed at length the ramifications of his pleading guilty. Roby stated under oath that his attorney had explained the plea petition and that he understood it, as well as what the State had to prove to convict him. Roby admitted that he did have a defense to the charges and had spoken to his attorney about that defense. He also admitted that he understood the many rights he was waiving by entering a guilty plea. Roby admitted that he had received several threats to plead guilty but that the threats were not why he was pleading guilty. Additionally, when the trial judge questioned Roby about whether he was under the influence of any illegal drugs or alcohol, Roby admitted that he was "under methadone, "[1] which he had been given at the hospital in Columbus the day before, but he denied any addiction to opiates:

Q. Today, are you under the influence of any illegal drugs or alcohol or undergoing any kind of mental treatment at this time?
A. Yes. I'm under [m]ethadone.
Q. So, you have an addiction to ...

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