The Arkansas Supreme court on Thursday turned down a request by a Pine Bluff man convicted of murder who wanted the case sent back to state court because he said there were errors in his trial.
Walter Sims, 33, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2008 for his involvement in the Sept. 6, 2005, shooting death of Wade Miller, 41, who was found in the front yard of a house in the 1100 block of Florida Street and taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound to the back.
The appeal that Sims filed with the Supreme Court claimed that the evidence was not sufficient to support the conviction and sentence — a claim the high court had already rejected in 2011.
Sims, who was 28 when he was convicted and was represented by the Robinson Law Firm during the trial, filed the appeal without an attorney.
In the Thursday ruling, the court said that an action like the one Sims was requesting was available to address trial errors in only four categories — insanity at the time of the trial, a coerced guilty plea, material evidence withheld by prosecutors or a third-party confession to the crime during the time between conviction and appeal — and the issue of sufficiency of the evidence was not a category that would warrant the case being sent to circuit court.
Sims will be eligible to apply for parole on May 23, 2041.
A co-defendant, Rickey Strain, was also convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Strain, who was 23 at the time, had appealed his conviction twice, the first time with Sims. They both argued that Circuit Judge Jodi Dennis erred when she allowed testimony about a drug purchase made by a witness, who said he saw the murder. That argument was rejected by the high court.
In his second appeal, Strain argued that his attorney failed to ask for a trial separate from Sims, failed to make a complete argument for a directed verdict and failed to seek the proper jury instructions for accomplice liability. That appeal was also turned down.
Strain, now 28, will be eligible to apply for parole on Sept. 2, 2023.