OF JUDGMENT: 10/19/2018
OKTIBBEHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LEE J. HOWARD TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: BRUCE LAWRENCE (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS
BARNES, C.J., McDONALD, McCARTY AND C. WILSON, JJ.
In 2003, an Oktibbeha County grand jury indicted Bruce
Lawrence for the murder of Lillian Ingram and for felony
driving-under-the-influence (DUI) because he had been
convicted of DUI on two prior occasions. His trial began in
April 2004. After the State presented its case-in-chief,
Lawrence decided to plead guilty to murder. After the court
accepted his plea, the felony DUI charge was retired to the
file, and the court sentenced Lawrence to life imprisonment.
On October 2, 2018, Lawrence filed his second motion for
post-conviction relief (PCR), which the Oktibbeha County
Circuit Court summarily denied. From the court's
judgment, Lawrence appeals. Finding that Lawrence's PCR
motion is time-barred and successive-writ-barred, we affirm.
The relevant facts are found in our opinion in which we
affirmed the denial of Lawrence's first PCR motion.
Lawrence v. State, 970 So.2d 1291 (Miss. Ct. App.
2007). Lawrence was indicted on January 28, 2003, for murder
and felony DUI. The two offenses were charged in a single
indictment, with each offense detailed with statutory
references and ending with the words "contrary to the
form of the statute in such cases and made and provided, and
against the peace and dignity of the State of
Lawrence was appointed counsel who advised him throughout the
pre-trial process and at trial. After the State presented its
case-in-chief, Lawrence and his attorney conferred and
Lawrence decided to plead guilty to murder. Lawrence later
sought in his first PCR motion to have his guilty plea set
aside. He said he only pleaded guilty because his lawyer told
him he would be sentenced to serve twenty years. He reasoned
that his guilty plea was involuntary and his attorney was
ineffective. But at his plea hearing on April 27, 2004, prior
to accepting the plea, the court thoroughly questioned
Lawrence regarding knowledge of the consequences of pleading
guilty. In his petition to plead guilty, Lawrence attested
that he was pleading guilty freely and voluntarily. He
acknowledged that his counsel had done everything he could to
assist him and that if counsel told him that he might receive
a lighter sentence, counsel's prediction was not binding
on the court. The court's questions to Lawrence covered,
among other things, the rights Lawrence was waiving. Lawrence
testified that he understood that there was only one sentence
for the crime of murder-life imprisonment. He also said he
was satisfied with the advice and assistance of his attorney.
We affirmed the circuit court's judgment summarily
denying Lawrence's first PCR motion.
On October 2, 2018, Lawrence filed his second PCR motion. He
claimed that the indictment was defective and his attorney
was ineffective for not challenging it. On October 19, 2018,
the court found that the PCR motion was filed past the
three-year statute of limitations provided in Mississippi
Code Annotated section 99-39-5(2) (Rev. 2015). In addition
the court found that the PCR motion met none of the
exceptions to the statute of limitations and denied relief.
Lawrence appeals the court's order, arguing that the
indictment was defective and that he was not afforded
effective counsel. We find no error by the circuit court and
affirm its denial of Lawrence's PCR motion.
"When reviewing a trial court's denial or dismissal
of a PCR motion, we will only disturb the trial court's
decision if the trial court abused its discretion and the
decision is clearly erroneous; however, we review the trial
court's legal conclusions under a de novo standard of