Split court rejects appeal over delayed trial

Mississippi Supreme Court (Source: WLBT-TV)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Hattiesburg man who said a delay of nearly five years between arrest and trial was unfair.

The court split 4-4 on the case of James Wesley Scott last week. That unusual tie means an earlier ruling by the state Court of Appeals upholding Scott's conviction stands.

Scott is serving three consecutive life-without-parole sentences for attempted rape, kidnapping and burglary. The 51-year-old got those long sentences because he was convicted under Mississippi's habitual offender law.

The four justices who rejected overturning the convictions didn't issue a full opinion. The four justices who wanted to overturn the convictions wrote that the delays contributed to lost records and Scott's inability to find witnesses.

Scott remains imprisoned at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville.