Criminal Appellate Decisions – Supreme Court of Mississippi – 2/23/2023


2/23/2023 – Hand Down List and Published Opinions

Lorenzo Manuel v. State of Mississippi – Habitual Offender – Plain error – After a trial, Manuel was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault.  At his sentencing hearing, the State introduced two court orders of conviction.  The prosecution noted that the orders had different case numbers representing different felonies that arose from separate charges occurring at separate times.  The trial court sentenced Manuel to 40 years for second-degree murder and twenty years for aggravated assault to be served consecutively, without suspension, reduction, or possibility of parole.  Manuel appealed, and the case was assigned to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  The MSSC granted Manuel’s petition for writ of certiorari to review the trial judge’s imposition of a habitual offender sentence.

At his sentencing hearing, the state failed to introduce the indictments for either conviction or any other evidence into the record to establish that the convictions arose from separate incidents at different times.  On appeal before the Court of Appeals, the state supplemented the record under MRAP 10(e) with copies of the indictments from Manuel’s prior convictions.  The indictments reflect two hydrocodone sale charges occurring on different dates.  Manuel did not object to the motion to supplement.  Thus, the state argues, it proved that Manuel’s prior convictions arose out of separate incidents at different times.  The Court held that it was error for the Court of Appeals to permit the State to supplement the record in this way, because MRAP10(e) does not grant authority to supplement the record with evidence that was never presented to the trial court.

The court determined that the State did not establish that Manuel’s prior convictions arose from separate incidents at different times.  As a result, the Court held it was error for the trial judge to sentence Manuel as a habitual offender.  The judgment of the Court of appeals is vacated and remanded to the trial court for resentencing.  On remand, the State does not get a second chance to prove habitual offender status, because that would violate the prohibition against double jeopardy under the Mississippi Constitution. 

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