Decisions – COA – Sept. 27, 2016

Earnest Antonio Keys  v. State of Mississippi – appeal from revocation of suspended sentence –   Keys pleaded guilty in  3007 to armed robbery and got a 10-year sentence.   He served three years; the last 7 were suspended.  In 2011, the trial court revoked the suspension for violation of the conditions of his suspension.  Three years later Keys  filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court  treated as a pcr and denied.  Keys appeals and the COA dismisses for lack of jurisdiction because Keys should have filed a pcr in the trial court.  The trial court does not have authority to redo a sentence after the defendant has begun to serve the sentence pursuant to MCA Sect. 47-7-33(1).

Kathryn Knight, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate and Heirs-At-Law and/or Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Ezell Knight, Deceased v. Tyler Holmes Memorial Hospital – medical malpractice – Ezell Knight died in 2011 at Tyler Holmes Memorial after spending several months there.  His relatives filed a medical malpractice suit alleging he died from improperly treated sores or ulcers.   The hospital moved for summary judgment which was granted.  The plaintiff had timely designated an expert but after the motion for summary judgment was filed moved to amend to add a new expert.  The trial court denied the supplementation.  The COA affirms finding that the expert designation by the plaintiff failed to address the hospital’s duty of care or how the hospital violated that duty. It was also unsworn.  The COA also affirms the trial court’s award of costs for having cancelled the deposition of the hospital’s expert four hours prior to its start thereby costing the expert doctor lost revenue of $3,075.


LaTanya Buckner v. State of Mississippi – reversal where transcript missing – Buckner was convicted in Hinds County of armed robbery and armed carjacking.  The court reporter died before the transcript was prepared and because  the court reporter used a “pen writing” shorthand technique, what was transcribed was done from available  tape recordings but there was  no complete transcript.  The COA reverses for a new trial since it “cannot conduct a meaningful appellate review.”

Gregory Lorenzo Pritchett  v. State of Mississippi – 404(b) –  Pritchett was convicted of the sale of  less than two grams of cocaine after being caught up in a Biloxi undercover sting.  On appeal he argues that it was error to allow in evidence of his prior conviction.  The trial court had a pre-trial  hearing and allowed the  State to introduce a prior conviction for transfer of a controlled substance from 2002 for the limited purpose of proving that Pritchett intended to transfer a controlled substance.  He also argues it was error to allow in testimony of a previous encounter he had had with a Biloxi police officer.  The COA affirms.
Apolinar Terrero Ruiz and $56,000.00 U.S. Currency v. State of Mississippi and Harrison County Sheriff’s Office – forfeiture – Ruiz was stopped for driving while Latino in Harrison County.  Officers found $56,000 wrapped in plastic in a compartment between the  trunk and the backseats.  Ruiz explained that the money was to possibly open a grocery store in Texas with his daughter and that he had saved the money  by working for 26 years in carpentry and from refinancing a home in Massachusetts.  The county filed for forfeiture which Ruiz contested.  Ruiz lost and appeals.  The COA reverses and renders.

 While the facts may garner suspicion that the money could have been drug related, there is no actual tie between the money and illegal drug trafficking, even when taking the facts as a whole. Most notably, the residue that the officers alleged appeared to be marijuana was never collected, preserved, or tested. Ruiz was never charged with any crime relating to possession of illegal narcotics stemming from the traffic stop, and he had no prior criminal record or known illegal-narcotic involvement at the time of the incident. Additionally, while the existence of a hidden compartment in a vehicle may raise suspicion, Ruiz had very recently purchased the vehicle second-hand, and claimed to have had no knowledge of the compartment until weeks before his trip to Texas. Likewise, Ruiz had a plausible explanation for every other question asked of him by the sheriff’s department, including issues surrounding the maps and directional information found in the passenger’s seat, the reason for Ruiz’s trip to Texas, the existence of the vacuum-seal items, and the source and purpose of the cash.


Affirming pro se appeals from pcr motions:

Barry Lemax Melton  v. State of Mississippi

Darrell Jenkins  v. State of Mississippi

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