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June 8, 2017 10:43:07 AM
The Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled an Oktibbeha County man given life in prison for a 1990s rape was properly sentenced and dismissed his request for post-conviction relief Tuesday.
John H. Lofton, who was also sentenced to two 20-year terms of imprisonment after pleading guilty to aggravated assault, kidnapping and capital rape charges in 1993, filed a PRC motion with circuit court 12 years later that argued the trial court incorrectly sentenced him.
Specifically, Lofton contended state statute did not allow the court, acting without a jury, to impose a life sentence.
Lofton appealed Judge Lee Howard's 2015 dismissal, which was given without an evidentiary hearing, finding Lofton was properly sentenced under existing state law.
The court of appeals' decision noted the trial court was correct in its sentencing and states "a plain reading of the statute shows ... (the court) was without authority to impose a sentence less than life imprisonment."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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