A Mississippi man has been sentenced to life without the possibility for parole for buying $106 worth of liquor with a bad check.
According to WKRG.com, in his request this past week to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Scotty B. Lyles claimed his rights were violated when prosecutors were allowed to amend his indictment after trial to charge him as a habitual offender, WKRG.com writes. As a result, Lyles was sentenced to life without parole for buying $106 worth of liquor with a bad check.
In Oktibbeha County, he was convicted of false pretense for writing a bad check to buy liquor at a Starkville store in 2005. A year later, at 10:33 a.m. on May 22, 2006, Lyles, 42, robbed The Tobacco Shed convenience store in Starkville, The Commercial Dispatch reported.
In 2009, Lyles argued that his sentence was too harsh for such a minor felony. But the 10-member state Court of Appeals said it agreed with Oktibbeha County Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens that Lyles "13 prior crimes justify him being stuck in prison for the rest of his life."
"The court finds that this sentence is not disproportionate because of Mr. Lyles apparently seeming inability to conform his behavior to the requirements that ... society expects of him."
"This gentleman (Lyles) has the most felony convictions out of anyone that I have dealt with," Kitchens is quoted in court records saying when he sentenced Lyles in 2007, according to the Commercial Dispatch.
What's notable about Lyles' case is that it shares similarities with the 1983 landmark case of Jerry Helm. In 1979, Helm pleaded guilty for writing a bad check for $100. At the time, South Dakota law authorized judges to give life without parole sentences for sixtime felons,The New York Times reported.
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He had been previously convicted three times for third-degree burglary and one time each for driving while intoxicated, grand larceny, and obtaining money under false pretenses. As a result, Helm was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 1983, the United States Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 that Helm should be resentenced or released from the South Dakota prison, The New York Times stated. The court found that the punishment did not fit the crime committed. After Solem v. Helm, punishments must fit the crime or risk being found in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Whether Lyles' case takes the same direction remains to be seen. The Mississippi Supreme Court has given Lyles until Jan. 31 to file a post-conviction petition challenging his life without parole sentence, WKRG.com reported.