Wiley v. State

Decision Date03 June 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-DR-00588-SCT.,98-DR-00588-SCT.
Citation750 So.2d 1193
PartiesWilliam L. WILEY v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Robert B. McDuff, Jackson, Timothy Hester, Brian P. Miller, Anthony R. Picarello, Jr., Attorneys for Appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Marvin L. White, Jr., Attorney for Appellee.

EN BANC.

PRATHER, Chief Justice, for the Court:

I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶ 1. This post-conviction relief (PCR) case arises from the 1981 capital murder of a storeowner in the Mineral Wells community of DeSoto County. During the past seventeen years, the petitioner, William L. Wiley, has been sentenced to death three times.

¶ 2. Wiley was originally tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in February, 1982. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed Wiley's conviction. However, the case was remanded for resentencing, due to comments by the prosecutor regarding the reviewability of the sentencing jury's decision. See Wiley v. State, 449 So.2d 756 (Miss.1984) (Wiley I).

¶ 3. Wiley's second sentencing trial was held in June, 1984. The jury again sentenced Wiley to death, and that decision was affirmed by this Court. Wiley v. State, 484 So.2d 339 (Miss.1986) (Wiley II), cert. denied Wiley v. Mississippi, 479 U.S. 906, 107 S.Ct. 304, 93 L.Ed.2d 278 (1986), overruled by Willie v. State, 585 So.2d 660 (Miss.1991). Wiley's subsequent request for post-conviction relief was denied. Wiley v. State, 517 So.2d 1373 (Miss. 1987) (Wiley III), cert. denied Wiley v. Mississippi, 486 U.S. 1036, 108 S.Ct. 2024, 100 L.Ed.2d 610 (1988).

¶ 4. Wiley then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. Via an unpublished memorandum, that court denied Wiley's petition.

¶ 5. Wiley next appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court held that Wiley's death sentence was improper because the sentencing jury was incorrectly instructed regarding the "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" aggravating circumstance, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court decisions in Clemons v. Mississippi, 494 U.S. 738, 110 S.Ct. 1441, 108 L.Ed.2d 725 (1990) and Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356, 108 S.Ct. 1853, 100 L.Ed.2d 372 (1988). Wiley v. Puckett, 969 F.2d 86, 105-106 (5th Cir.1992) (Wiley IV). The Fifth Circuit instructed the District Court to issue a writ of habeas corpus unless the State of Mississippi initiated appropriate proceedings within a reasonable time. Id.

¶ 6. Wiley then filed with this Court a motion and application for life sentence, or, in the alternative, for a new sentencing hearing. In October, 1993, this Court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Wiley. Wiley v. State, 635 So.2d 802 (Miss.1993) (Wiley V).

¶ 7. In February, 1995, Wiley was sentenced, once again, to death. This Court affirmed that sentence in February, 1997. Wiley v. State, 691 So.2d 959 (Miss.1997) (Wiley VI), rehearing denied Wiley v. State, 693 So.2d 384 (Miss.1997) (and motion for substitution of counsel granted), cert. denied Wiley v. Mississippi, 522 U.S. 886, 118 S.Ct. 219, 139 L.Ed.2d 153 (1997).

¶ 8. On April 17, 1998, Wiley filed an "Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Death Sentence" with this Court. On July 1, 1998, Wiley filed an "Amended and Restated Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Death Sentence", in which he raises the following issues for consideration by this Court:

A. Whether Wiley was denied his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel at his sentencing?

1. Whether Wiley's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State's improper suggestions that Wiley would be paroled if the jury did not sentence him to death?
a. at voir dire?
b. at witness examination?
c. at closing argument?
2. Whether Wiley's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to oppose the complete elimination of mercy and sympathy from the jury's consideration?
3. Whether Wiley's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State's improper "send a message" argument during closing argument?

B. Whether Wiley was denied his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel on appeal of his sentencing trial?

1. Whether Wiley's appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to appeal the jury's finding of the "avoiding arrest" aggravating factor?
a. Whether the evidence in this case can support the jury's finding on the "avoiding arrest" aggravating factor?
b. Whether, if the "avoiding arrest" aggravating factor is broad enough to include the evidence in this case, then that aggravating factor is unconstitutionally overbroad?
c. Whether, if the "avoiding arrest" aggravating factor is broad enough to include the evidence in this case, then that aggravating factor impermissibly duplicates the "robbery" aggravating circumstance?
2. Whether Wiley's appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to inform the court of record evidence of improper comments by the State regarding the possibility of parole?

C. Whether Wiley was denied his constitutional right to a fair trial?

1. Whether Wiley's rights were violated by the State's suggestion that Wiley would be paroled if the jury did not sentence him to death?
2. Whether the trial court's striking all references to mercy and sympathy from the jury instructions was unconstitutional?
3. Whether Wiley's rights were violated by the State's improper "send a message" argument during closing argument?
4. Whether the imposition of the death penalty in reliance on the "avoiding arrest" aggravating factor was unconstitutional?
5. Whether Wiley's rights were violated by the trial court's improper discussion with the venire about the possibility of parole?
6. Whether the trial court's failure to instruct the jury on a statutory mitigating factor of "diminished capacity" deprived Wiley of his rights?
7. Whether it was arbitrary and capricious to find that Wiley's death sentence was proportional to comparable cases?

D. Whether the cumulation of error in the case requires reversal?

¶ 9. This Court finds that these issues are without merit. Accordingly, Wiley's motion to vacate sentence, or, alternatively for leave to file in the trial court, is denied.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

¶ 10. Pursuant to statute:

Where a conviction and sentence have been appealed to this Court and affirmed, or the appeal dismissed, an application under the [Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act] must be filed in this Court. Miss.Code Ann. § 99-39-7 (1994). This Court may grant or deny any or all relief requested in the application or allow the filing of the motion in the trial court. § 99-39-27(7)(a) & (b)(Supp.1997).

Jackson v. State, 732 So.2d 187, 189 (Miss. 1999). Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-39-21 sets forth the procedural bars and the burden of proof that the PCR petitioner must overcome:

(1) Failure by a prisoner to raise objections, defenses, claims, questions, issues or errors either in fact or law which were capable of determination at trial and/or on direct appeal, regardless of whether such are based on the laws and the Constitution of the state of Mississippi or of the United States, shall constitute a waiver thereof and shall be procedurally barred, but the court may upon a showing of cause and actual prejudice grant relief from the waiver.
(2) The litigation of a factual issue at trial and on direct appeal of a specific state or federal legal theory or theories shall constitute a waiver of all other state or federal legal theories which could have been raised under said factual issue; and any relief sought under this chapter upon said facts but upon different state or federal legal theories shall be procedurally barred absent a showing of cause and actual prejudice.
(3) The doctrine of res judicata shall apply to all issues, both factual and legal, decided at trial and on direct appeal.
(4) The term "cause" as used in this section shall be defined and limited to those cases where the legal foundation upon which the claim for relief is based could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence at the time of trial or direct appeal.
(5) The term "actual prejudice" as used in this section shall be defined and limited to those errors which would have actually adversely affected the ultimate outcome of the conviction or sentence.
(6) The burden is upon the prisoner to allege in his motion such facts as are necessary to demonstrate that his claims are not procedurally barred under this section.

Miss.Code Ann. § 99-39-21 (1994). Wiley presents several issues to be reviewed, pursuant to these statutory guidelines.

A. Whether Wiley was denied his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel at his sentencing?

¶ 11. Wiley first claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial.1

The standard for reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel was set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2064, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), and is well-settled:
Our inquiry under Strickland is twofold:
(1) Was defense counsel's performance deficient when measured by the objective standard of reasonable professional competence, and if so (2) Was [the appellant] prejudiced by such failure to meet that standard?
Hansen v. State, 649 So.2d 1256, 1259 (Miss.1994).
... The "defense counsel is presumed competent and the burden of proving otherwise rests on [the appellant]." Hansen, 649 So.2d at 1258; McQuarter v. State, 574 So.2d 685, 687 (Miss.1990) (holding that defendant must prove both prongs of the Strickland test).
"[T]his Court bases its decisions as to whether counsel's efforts were effective on the totality of the circumstances surrounding each case." McQuarter, 574 So.2d at 687. This Court's scrutiny of defense counsel's performance is highly deferential. See Hansen, 649 So.2d at 1259.

Hodgin v. State, 702 So.2d 113, 116-17 (Miss.1997).

¶ 12. In order to prevail on an...

To continue reading

Request your trial
70 cases
  • Havard v. State, No. 2006-DR-01161-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • May 22, 2008
    ...by the doctrine of res judicata pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-39-21(3) (Rev.2007). See also Wiley v. State, 750 So.2d 1193, 1200 (Miss. 1999); Foster v. State, 687 So.2d 1124, 1129 (Miss.1996); Wiley v. State, 517 So.2d 1373, 1377 ¶ 10. As we explained more fully in Hava......
  • Puckett v. Epps, Civil Action No. 2:04CV302HSO.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi
    • March 30, 2009
    ...are sufficient to support the avoiding arrest instruction. Hodges v. State, 912 So.2d 730, 786 (Miss. 2005) (citing Wiley v. State, 750 So.2d 1193, 1206 (Miss.1999)). Other cases have found the existence of this aggravator on far fewer facts. See, e.g., Ross v. State, 954 So.2d 968, 1010 (M......
  • Lynch v. State, No. 1998-DP-01149-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • May 27, 2004
    ...for reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support an avoiding lawful arrest instruction is well-settled[.]" Wiley v. State, 750 So.2d 1193, 1206 (Miss.1999) (quoting Woodward v. State, 726 So.2d 524, 541 (Miss.1997) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Each case must be decided on it......
  • Walker v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • October 16, 2003
    ...against Walker. Walker cannot raise this claim again on post-conviction review. See Miss.Code Ann. § 99-39-21(3); Wiley v. State, 750 So.2d 1193, 1200 (Miss.1999); Foster v. State, 687 So.2d 1124, 1129, 1138, 1140 (Miss.1996); Wiley v. State, 517 So.2d 1373,1377 3 IV. THE CLAIM BASED ON TIS......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT