Drug conviction upheld; new sentencing ordered

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 9, 2005

The Mississippi Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld the convictionsof a Lincoln County man convicted of methamphetamine charges, but aportion of the case was sent back to the trial court forresentencing.

William “Bill” Cannon appealed to the state court following hisOctober 2001 and January 2002 convictions on methamphetaminecharges. He also appealed a November 2002 forfeiture judgment on 62acres of land, a 1997 black Honda motorcycle and $2,000.

Judge Mike Smith sentenced Cannon to 30 years and a $1 millionfine in the 2001 case. As a habitual offender, he was sentenced to120 years and $2 million in fines in the November 2002 case.

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In its 21-page ruling handed down Tuesday, the appeals courtrejected 21 issues Cannon raised on appeal. The court found noreversible errors and affirmed the trial court decisions.

However, the appeals court took exception to the 120-yearsentence in the 2002 case. The court pointed out that Cannon was 45at the time of sentencing and that he suffered from hepatitis.

The court cited previous case law regarding the need to considera defendant’s age and life expectancy. The court said the maximumsentence for a habitual offender may be doubled but it is notmandatory.

“It is obvious that the judge did not consider Cannon’s age whenhe imposed the sentence,” the appeals court said. “It is furtherevident that he did not take Cannon’s life expectancy intoconsideration when he doubled the sentence.”

The appeals court said the 30-year sentence in the first casewas proper.

However, without appropriate on the record findings, the courtsaid the discretionary imposition of consecutive 60-year sentencesin the second case was excessive. That part of the case was sentback to the trial court for resentencing “taking into accountCannon’s life expectancy and placing on the record any specificfindings, which would serve as the basis for such as lengthysentence.”