- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Leake County man sentenced to life in prison in the death of his wife argues in court papers that he pleaded guilty without counsel and without the ability to understand what he was doing.

Mike Cochran was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder in the 2010 death of his wife. Donna Cochran’s body was found inside the family-owned D&B; Tack Shop in the Free Trade community on Aug. 11, 2010. Prosecutors say she had been shot with a small caliber weapon.

According to court documents, Cochran told investigators that he and his wife argued over money and he shot her during the argument.

Mike Cochran pleaded guilty in 2011 in Leake County Circuit Court. A Leake County judge denied Cochran’s post-conviction petition in 2013. In a post-conviction petition, an inmate argues he has found new evidence - or a possible constitutional issue - that could persuade a court to order a new trial.

Cochran appealed and the state Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case on Wednesday in Jackson.

Cochran argues his attorney failed to seek a mental examination before Cochran pleaded guilty to the charge. He also said argued his attorney made no effort to object to prosecutors’ use of statements Cochran made to police.

The attorney general’s office said Cochran is not entitled to a “do over.”

“This case is devoid of any claims requiring withdrawal/vacation of Cochran’s guilty plea which, by all appearances, was both knowing and voluntary,” wrote Special Assistant Attorney General Billy Gore.

Gore said Cochran is “a self-confessed killer seeking to withdraw his voluntary plea of guilty on the ground he, in retrospect, made an error in judgment when he decided” to plead guilty.

Gore said Cochran offered no evidence to suggest that a trial would result in anything other than a conviction.


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