U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeal from Mississippi inmate

Published 6:44 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Freddie Poindexter, who was convicted and given a life sentence for gunning down his girlfriend in 2000 after their relationship soured.

Poindexter had challenged a decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said in 2007 that Poindexter had raised no new issues that might win him another trial. A federal judge in Mississippi in 2006 denied Poindexter’s same request for a certificate of appealability.

The certificate of appealability is similar to a post-conviction petition, in which an inmate argues he has found new evidence — or a possible constitutional issue — that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

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The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Poindexter’s sentence in 2003, rejecting his arguments that his attorney and a Lowndes County judge should have ordered a competency hearing after he claimed to have “snapped” and didn’t remember killing Geneva Johnson.

Prosecutors said Poindexter stalked his ex-girlfriend and shot her. Authorities said Johnson and another woman had given Poindexter a ride from a bingo parlor in Columbus after he said he had car trouble and the shooting occurred after he was let out of the car.

Poindexter, who took the stand in his own defense, testified that he “went into a rage” before firing two fatal shots into her body. He claimed he couldn’t remembering the shooting, but could remember what happened before and after it.

In his appeal to the federal courts, Poindexter argued that Mississippi corrections officials misinterpreted his sentence to mean that he was ineligible for parole. The federal court in north Mississippi and the 5th Circuit in New Orleans both rejected that claim on grounds that sentencing was a state issue not subject to federal courts’ review.