Court upholds life term for bad check

May 20, 2009



JACKSON -- The Mississippi Court of Appeals has upheld the life-without-parole sentence imposed in Oktibbeha County on a habitual criminal convicted of buying $106 worth of liquor with a bad check. 


Scotty B. Lyles had argued that his sentence was too harsh for such a minor felony. But the 10-member court said Tuesday it agrees with Oktibbeha County Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens that Lyles'' 13 prior crimes justify him being stuck in prison for the rest of his life. 


"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. 


"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." 


Lyles'' criminal record consists of felonies spanning from theft to burglary to robbery, mostly in the Chicago area.  


In Oktibbeha County, he was convicted of false pretense for writing a bad check to buy booze at Starkville Discount Liquor Store in 2005. A year later, he robbed The Tobacco Shed convenience store in Starkville. Lyles, 42, was convicted and also sentenced to life in prison without parole for that crime, in which he held up the store clerk with a knife. 


The Court of Appeals on Tuesday also affirmed that armed-robbery verdict and $10,000 fine. 


The robbery was captured by the store''s surveillance camera, and several witnesses positively identified Lyles as the robber, according to court records. 


In the bad-check case, evidence showed Lyles wrote it from a closed, deficit-ridden bank account that he''d overdrawn by more than $7,000.