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Smith v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 16, 2019

DENNIS LAWRENCE SMITH APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/12/2018

          RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ANGELA YLONA COCKERHAM CHARLES EDWARD COWAN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BILLY L. GORE

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., McDONALD AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          McDONALD, J.

         ¶1. Dennis Lawrence Smith was sentenced to serve sixty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) after he pleaded guilty to three counts of the sale of cocaine with the subsequent offender enhancement. Smith filed a post-conviction collateral relief (PCR) motion pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-39-5 (Rev. 2015), arguing that his sentence was disproportionate to the crime and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The circuit court summarily dismissed Smith's motion without an evidentiary hearing. Smith appeals that dismissal. In addition to the issues raised in his PCR motion, on appeal he argues for the first time that (1) his sentence amounts to a life sentence under the circumstances and (2) there was no evidence of a 1999 Rankin County conviction of possession of a controlled substance subjecting him to an enhanced punishment. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Smith was indicted in the Rankin County Circuit Court on or about August 15, 2013, on seven counts of violating Mississippi Code Annotated section 41-29-139 (Rev. 2013).[1] The indictment alleged that Smith was subject to an enhanced punishment pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 41-29-147 (Rev. 2013) because he had previously been convicted for possession of a controlled substance in the Rankin County Circuit Court (Cause Number 10931) on August 23, 1999.

         ¶3. On November 18, 2013, during Smith's plea and sentencing hearing, the court discussed the elements of the crimes Smith pleaded guilty to:

Court: Now, this is a multi-count indictment. What counts is he pleading to?
Mayes:[2] He's pleading to 1, 3, and 4, with the subsequent offender enhancement, Your Honor.
. . . .
Court: All right. In relation to Count 1, the elements are on or about February 10th, 2013, in Rankin County, Mississippi, you did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, knowingly, and intentionally sale, deliver, or transfer a quantity of cocaine to a person at a time when you had been previously convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Rankin County Cause No. 10931 on or about August 23, 1999, and therefore subject to enhanced punishment as a second or subsequent drug offender. Do you understand those elements?
Smith: Yes, sir.

         The court addressed the elements in relation to each count Smith pleaded guilty to. Smith admitted to the 1999 conviction as to the other two counts as well. In addition, Smith agreed with the factual basis which subjected him to an enhanced punishment:

Mayes: The State would further prove that this defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in the Circuit Court of Rankin County in Cause No. 10931 on or about August the 23rd of 1999, and as a result, is subject to enhanced punishment as a second or subsequent offender under the Uniform Controlled Substance Law.
Court: Do you have any disagreement with the factual basis?
Smith: No, sir.
Court: Mr. Houston, do you have any disagreement with the factual basis?
Houston:[3] No, Your Honor.

         ¶4. Smith proceeded to plead guilty to three counts of the sale of cocaine as a subsequent offender. The circuit court sentenced Smith to serve a term of sixty years in the custody of the MDOC and to be released after serving fifty years for Count I and one day for Count III and Count IV.[4] After the court sentenced Smith, there were no objections or disputes. Smith's attorney only requested that Smith be sentenced after the holidays without detailing a purpose for the request.[5] The court asked if there was "anything further" and Smith's ...


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