Beating death conviction upheld, sentence tossed

Published 9:26 am Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld the conviction but threw out the sentence of a Vicksburg man convicted of beating his girlfriend to death in 2011.

The court upheld the conviction of Lorenzo Hull, 45, in the beating death of 40-year-old Angela Andrews.

Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick sentenced Hull, who had prior felony convictions in 1993 and 2002, to 35 years in prison as a habitual offender. State law requires habitual offenders to serve their sentences day-for-day.

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However, the court threw out the 35-year sentence without parole, citing that prosecutors failed to offer evidence that Hull was a habitual offender.

The case will be returned to circuit court for re-sentencing, but no date had been set as of Wednesday.

District Attorney Ricky Smith said during the trial that Hull beat Andrews unconscious Dec. 4, 2011. Warren County 911 records show Hull called to report Andrews was not breathing at 7:30 a.m. the next day.

Andrews died Dec. 6, 2011, at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Defense attorney John Bullard argued that Hull and Andrews were fighting when Andrews fell and injured her head on a block of concrete.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors said they had certified copies of sentencing orders for Hull’s two prior convictions for sale of a controlled substance in 1993 and possession of cocaine in 2002. However, the appeals court said prosecutors failed to introduce these documents into evidence or make them a part of the trial record.

The appeals court said in order to sentence a defendant as a habitual offender, the accused must be properly indicted as a habitual offender, the prosecution must provide evidence of prior offenses and the defendant must be allowed to challenge that evidence.

Prosecutors said Hull did not object to the oral presentation to the trial court. They said Hull is procedurally barred from doing so on appeal.

Andrews was a disabled U.S. Army veteran who had had been living with Hull for about six or seven months before her death, family members have said.

Hull is serving his sentence in Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County.