Appeals Court upholds conviction in Gulf Coast murder case

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected Andre Armon Randall’s claim that the life sentence without parole he got for pleading guilty in a murder case was harsher that what the law provided for when he committed the killing.

Randall was seeking to have thrown out his guilty plea to the 1993 killing of a Biloxi longshoreman.

Randall was one of five people charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Eugene Daniels Jr. Police believe the suspects shot Daniels after he tried to stop them from robbing his home.

Randall, tried separately, was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to death. The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial in 2001. Randall subsequently pleaded guilty to capital murder in Harrison County Circuit Court in 2002 and was sentenced to life without parole.

A Harrison County judge denied Randall’s post conviction petition in 2006. Inmates use post conviction petitions to argue new evidence has been found that might win them a new trial.

Court of Appeals Judge William H. Myers, writing Tuesday for the court, said the law in effect in 1993 provided for two kinds of punishment for capital murder — death or life in prison. Life without parole was added as an option by the Legislature in 1994.

Myers said while Randall wants to tie sentencing to the date of the crime, that is not how the law has been interpreted by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Myers said the Supreme Court has ruled that trial judges presiding over a sentencing taking place after July 1, 1994, have the additional option of life without parole in capital murder cases.