OF JUDGMENT: 03/14/2018
FROM WHICH APPEALED: TATE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. SMITH MURPHEY
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: IMHOTEP ALKEBU-LAN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA WAKELAND BYRD
J. WILSON, P.J., McDONALD AND McCARTY, JJ.
Devonta Pipkin pleaded guilty to deliberate-design murder and
was sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections. He filed a petition for
post-conviction relief (PCR), which the trial court denied.
Pipkin now appeals, arguing that there was no factual basis
to support his guilty plea and that his trial counsel was
ineffective. Finding no error, we affirm.
"When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal
of a PCR [petition], 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." Bass v.
State, 237 So.3d 172, 173 (¶4) (Miss. Ct. App.
The factual basis supported the guilty plea.
Pipkin first challenges the factual basis for his guilty
plea. Before accepting a guilty plea, the trial court must
determine there is a factual basis supporting the plea.
Pegues v. State, 65 So.3d 351, 358 (¶25) (Miss.
Ct. App. 2011). The trial court must also have before it
"substantial evidence that the accused [committed] the
legally defined offense to which he is offering the
plea." Burrough v. State, 9 So.3d 368, 373
(¶14) (Miss. 2009). Ultimately, "there must be
enough that the court may say with confidence the prosecution
could prove the accused guilty of the crime charged . . .
." Corley v. State, 585 So.2d 765, 767 (Miss.
Pipkin pleaded guilty to deliberate-design murder, which is
defined as the "killing of a human being without the
authority of law . . . [w]hen done with deliberate design to
effect the death of the person killed, or of any human being
. . . ." Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(1)(a) (Supp.
2018). During the plea colloquy, the State
recited the facts and circumstances under which Pipkin
committed the murder. The State was prepared to prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that Pipkin and four others killed Emanuel
Gomez while robbing him. Most importantly, Pipkin agreed
under oath to the factual basis recited by the State. He was
given the opportunity to disagree with the factual basis but
did not. Pipkin stated, "I'm sorry for the way it
happened. . . . I guess I was at the wrong place at the wrong
time. It wasn't supposed to happen like that is all I got
to say." The trial court found that a factual basis
supported Pipkin's guilty plea. We agree and find no
II.Trial counsel was not ...