Miss. Supreme Court refuses to reconsider ruling in Lafayette Co. case

Published 7:27 pm Friday, March 16, 2007

The Mississippi Supreme Court will not reconsider a ruling that Ralph Garrison can argue to a jury that he didn’t know he had to register as a sex offender in 2004 under a law passed while he was living out of state.

The attorney general’s office had asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its December ruling. The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to review its decision.

The court also declined to order a bond hearing for Garrison, who is serving a life sentence.

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The Supreme Court ruled that a trial judge erred in denying Garrison’s request that a Lafayette County jury consider whether he should have been notified that he was required to register after having served out his sentence.

Garrison pleaded guilty in 1978 to one count of rape and two counts of armed robbery. Garrison served his sentence and was released from prison in 1992. He lived in Tennessee from 1995 until 2003, when he moved back to Mississippi.

In 2000, the Mississippi Legislature passed a law requiring all sex offenders to register with the Department of Public Safety.

Garrison was arrested in 2004 in Lafayette County for failing to register. He was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison as a habitual offender, according to the court record.

The Supreme Court said whether Garrison knew he had to register as a sex offender was a factual issue for a jury to decide.