Decision – Miss.S.Ct. – Sept. 24, 2015

Erik Hollie v. State –  Hollie was convicted of murdering a Wesson Mississippi pawn shop owner because the Lord told him to do so.  Two days before that, Hollie had argued with an Indian gas station employee about religion.  The next day, armed with a knife,  he robbed the store of a pack of cigarettes and $30 worth of gas.  And on the third day, he walked into the pawn shop, killed its owner and took several handguns.

Shortly after the murder, Hollie turned himself in and confessed to both the armed robbery and the capital murder. The trial judge appointed an attorney to represent Hollie, and he filed a motion for a mental evaluation. A state doctor evaluated Hollie, but before a competency hearing was held, Hollie pleaded guilty to both crimes. The trial judge accepted the guilty pleas without any adjudication on Hollie’s mental status.

At sentencing, Hollie put on no mitigating evidence, and he specifically instructed his attorney to put on no defense. The only thing before the jury from the defense was Hollie’s own statement to the jury, which was just one sentence. “I ask that you let the Lord deal with me and sentence me to death.” The jury did just that.

He didn’t file an appeal of a pcr and is before the Court on its mandatory review of Hollie’s death sentence.  The court vacates the plea and remands for a competency determination.

As noted above, the trial court ordered a mental evaluation of Hollie regarding his armed-robbery charge. The evaluation was conducted, but no hearingwas held. Nevertheless, the trial court accepted Hollie’s guilty plea to armed robbery, which subsequently was used as the aggravating factor in his death-penalty sentencing phase. Ordering the mental evaluation, but failing to hold the mandatory hearing on the matter is reversible error. Smith, 149 So. 3d at 1035. As a result, we reverse Hollie’s conviction for armed robbery as well and vacate that sentence. This case is remanded to the trial court to determine Hollie’s competence to stand trial. See Smith, 149 So. 3d at 1035; Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-105(6) (Supp. 2014).

2 thoughts on “Decision – Miss.S.Ct. – Sept. 24, 2015

  1. Jane

    Do you have anything on the Chris Epps, former Corrections Commissioner, and his wife trying to keep the property they purchased with ill gotten funds?



    Walter H. Ketchings

  2. She is contesting it. From Pacer (case no. 3:14-cr-00111-HTW-FKB) it looks like the government took depositions in the matter in August. Ms. Epps filed the following on August 11, 2015:

    YOU WLL PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that pufsuant to 21 U.S.C. $853(n),
    CATHERLEAN S. EPPS claims an interest in and to the following assets for which an Agreed
    Preliminary Order of Forfeiture was entered on February 25,2015, and Notice of Forfeiture was
    entered on March 10, 2015, rnUnited States v. Christopher B. Epps, United States District Court
    for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division, Case No. 3: 14-cr-00111-HTW-FKB:
    1. Real property located at 1100 West Beach Boulevard, Unit 304,
    Pass Christian, Harrison County, Mississippi;
    2. Real Property located at 511 Shalom Way, Flowood, Rankin
    County, Mississippi;
    3, All funds on deposit in Edward Jones account numbered XXXxx764-t-0;
    4. A11 funds on deposit in Edward Jones account numbered XXXxx71t-t-6:
    5. One ( 1) 2010 Mercedes Benz 5550, VIN:
    WDDNG7BB6AA33 17 87, and
    6. One (1) 2001 Mercedes Benz 565 YIz AMG, VIN:
    7 . All funds on deposit in regions Bank account numbered xxxxx1636,
    but not to exceed $6,27I.14.
    Claimant/Petitioner Catherlean S. Epps hereby petitions the Court for a hearing to
    adjudicate the validity of her interest in said property.
    Claimant/Petitioner Catherlean S. Epps has an undivided interest in the whole of each of
    the properties listed above by virtue of a tenancy of the entirety created under the laws of the State
    of Mississippi, and such right, title and interest in said properties renders the order of forfeiture
    invalid in whole or in part, because Claimant/Petitioner’s undivided interest was vested in
    Claimant/Petitioner rather than defendant Christopher B. Epps, or was superior to any right, title,
    or interest of defendant Christopher B. Epps, at the time of the commission of the acts which give
    rise to the forfeiture of the property under this section.
    DATED this l! day of August, 2015

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