Court of Appeals Hand Down July 20, 2010

Banton was convicted of Murder on May 29, 2009.  That lead to a six page opinion.  The only novel argument was that Banton claimed that since he was 17 when he committed the murder, a sentence of life, violates the 8th amendment.  It didn’t get anywhere.
Pilcher was convicted of Murder on April 4, 2008.  That lead to an eight page opinion.  Pilcher claims prosecutorial misconduct regarding some erroneous claims during the State’s opening statements.  Even from a defense lawyer, the statements seem pretty innocuous.  His claim also doesn’t get anywhere.
And to complete the trifecta of Murder Opinions of ten pages or less, we have:
Dougalewicz was convicted on March 8, 2006.  The only interesting aspect to his opinion is the mention of the Weathersby Rule.  The Weathersby Rule states:
[W]here the defendant or the defendant’s witnesses are the only eyewitnesses
to the homicide, their version, if reasonable, must be accepted as true, unless
substantially contradicted in material particulars by a credible witness or
witnesses for the [S]tate, or by the physical facts or by the facts of common
Dougalewicz did not testify, and all the physical evidence, along with his confession, precluded a directed verdict based on Weathersby.
Finally, there is REW v. STATE.
Rew was convicted under 99-19-81 for one count of burglary of  a dwelling, two counts of kidnapping and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.  Rew should have been sentenced to 95 years to serve, day for day, or mandatory.  Instead he was sentenced to ten years for the burglary, ten years per kidnapping count, and one year for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Justice Roberts writes a concurring opinion speaking to the illegality of the sentence imposed.  Justice Roberts says that to give a trial court back discretion in sentencing an 8th amendment analysis must be done, and one wasn’t done in this case, or if done, the Court was unswayed.  In fact, the trial court said:
And that there was not a request from the State for him to serve the rest of his
life in jail, although it could have been requested and submitted to the jury.
. . . .
Considering all these factors, certainly, the breaking into a residence at
night at gunpoint, holding people hostage, and having a gun when you’ve got
two prior felony convictions, those are very serious offenses. They are very
dangerous. And the truth is, Mr. Rew is very lucky that he didn’t kill
somebody there when he did that because he would be looking at a capital
murder, possibly the death penalty.
That didn’t happen. But short of that, it is about as serious of a case
that you could have here and that we have to deal with, the home invasion type
Without a finding that the punishment far outweighs the crime, trial courts are not supposed to deviate from the mandatory sentencing found in 99-19-81, and that doesn’t appear to be the case here.  While prosecutors sometimes get very overzealous in the application of habitual status, burglary, firearms and kidnapping seem to be good crimes for it, as opposed to say, misdemeanor embezzlement masquerading as a felony.

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