Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thornton v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

April 25, 2019

JUSTIN JAMAILLE THORNTON APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 40CR-11-47] HONORABLE ALEX GUYNN, JUDGE.

          Justin Thornton, pro se appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Vada Berger, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          JOHN DAN KEMP, CHIEF JUSTICE

         Appellant Justin Thornton appeals an order dismissing his petition to correct an illegal sentence. For reversal, he contends that the circuit court erred in dismissing his petition because this court reversed and dismissed all of his convictions in Thornton v. State, 2014 Ark. 157, 433 S.W.3d 216 (Thornton I). We affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         A. Thornton I

         Following a bench trial held in February 2013, the Lincoln County Circuit Court found Thornton guilty of capital murder, felon in possession of a firearm, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and abuse of a corpse for which he was sentenced to life without parole plus ten years for his commission of the murder with a firearm. Thornton appealed to this court. His sole claim for reversal was that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict on the capital-murder charge because the proof failed to establish that he acted with the requisite premeditation and deliberation. Thornton I, 2014 Ark. 157, at 1, 433 S.W.3d at 217. We held that the evidence was insufficient to support a conclusion that Thornton killed the victim with a premeditated and deliberate intent; therefore, we reversed and dismissed. Further, we stated, "While the evidence cannot sustain the charge of capital murder, we offer no opinion about whether it would sustain a lesser offense." Id. at 15, 433 S.W.3d at 224. The State filed a petition for rehearing contending that this court committed errors of law in its analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence for the capital-murder conviction. In addition, the State contended that because "only the sufficiency of the element of premeditation and deliberation of the capital murder conviction was raised on appeal, the Court should clarify that the convictions of felony theft of property, [1] possession of a firearm, and abuse of a corpse still stand." We denied the State's petition for rehearing. Thereafter, we issued our mandate, which stated, in pertinent part, "After due consideration, it is the decision of the court that the conviction is reversed and dismissed for the reasons set out in the attached opinion."

         B. Thornton II

         After this court's mandate issued in Thornton I, the State filed in the circuit court a "Motion for Court to Consider Lesser-Included Offenses." The circuit court granted the State's motion and set a hearing for December 1, 2014. At the hearing, Thornton argued that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider the lesser-included offenses, that the conviction of a lesser-included offense following the reversal and dismissal of a greater offense violates double-jeopardy principles, that his right to a speedy trial was violated, and that the circuit court denied him due process at the hearing when it did not allow him to argue that there was insufficient evidence to sustain convictions of the lesser-included offenses. The circuit court rejected Thornton's arguments, ruled that the evidence from the February 2013 bench trial was sufficient to prove that Thornton acted with purpose in causing the death of the victim, and found Thornton guilty of first-degree murder. The circuit court sentenced Thornton, as a habitual offender, to forty years' imprisonment for first-degree murder, enhanced by ten years for its commission with a firearm. After noting that Thornton's other convictions and sentences had not been affected by this court's reversal and dismissal in Thornton I, the circuit court entered an amended sentencing order on December 16, 2014. The amended sentencing order reflected that Thornton was sentenced to an aggregate term of seventy years' imprisonment for his four convictions.

         Thornton appealed and challenged only his conviction and sentence for first-degree murder. See Thornton v. State, 2015 Ark. 438, at 4, n.3, 475 S.W.3d 544, 546 n.3 (Thornton II). We reversed and dismissed, holding that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to hear the State's "Motion for Court to Consider Lesser-Included Offenses." Id. at 5, 475 S.W.3d at 547. Our mandate issued on January 14, 2016, and stated, in pertinent part, "After due consideration, it is the decision of the court that the conviction is reversed and dismissed for the reasons set out in the attached opinion."

         II. Present Appeal

         On July 1, 2016, Thornton filed in the circuit court a petition to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-90-111(a) (Repl. 2016).[2] He claimed that, by reversing and dismissing his conviction in Thornton I, this court reversed and dismissed all of his convictions. In his petition, Thornton stated,

The Lincoln County Circuit Court has refused to obey the Supreme Court's mandate entirely reversing and dismissing my entire conviction and has instead entered a sentencing order contrary to the Arkansas Supreme Court mandate. I am currently doing a sentence of 240 months for possession of firearm by certain person and 240 months for abuse of corpse. Charges I am no longer convicted of due to the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.