- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi court has declined to order convicted murderer Milton Trotter released from prison, rejecting arguments that he signed a plea deal with the understanding that state parole officials would free him once he was released from federal prison.

Trotter was serving concurrent sentences in the state and federal courts related to the 1981 slaying of a California woman he and two others kidnapped and brought to Mississippi.

Trotter had argued to the Mississippi Court of Appeals that he had been paroled from his federal kidnapping sentence in 2011 and should have been released from state prison at the same time.

When the state didn’t parole him in 2011, Trotter argued his murder conviction should be tossed because the state violated the plea agreement.

The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Milton will stay in prison.

“There is absolutely nothing in his plea agreement, the sentencing order, or any other part of Trotter’s record submissions that shows he was promised parole on his Mississippi sentence if granted parole in the federal system,” Appeals Judge James D. Maxwell II wrote in Tuesday’s decision.

“What is more, Mississippi’s parole mechanism is permissive, not mandatory, so the judge could not have bound the Parole Board. Instead, our review shows Trotter got just the sentence he bargained for in his murder case - a concurrent life sentence,” Maxwell said.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in 2013 denied Trotter’s petition and returned the case to a Mississippi federal judge, who ruled Trotter should pursue his appeal in the state courts.

Prosecutors argued there was nothing in the trial record to show there was any agreement Trotter would be granted parole on his state conviction if he was granted parole on the federal conviction.

Trotter and two co-defendants pleaded guilty in October 1981 to federal kidnapping charges and state murder charges in Lauderdale County in the death of Gail Allen. In sentencing documents, all three said Allen was killed in a motel in Laurel, Mississippi, and her body was dumped in Lauderdale County, where the murder charges were filed and prosecuted.

Trotter was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and life for murder. Documents show the sentences were to be served concurrently in a federal prison.

In 2003, a state circuit judge denied a post-conviction petition by Trotter, saying it wasn’t filed within the three-year period allowed by law. Mississippi courts said even if Trotter’s petition had been filed on time, the judge said Trotter failed to show he had new information that might result in a different trial outcome.

Trotter’s petition was rejected by a state appeals court in 2005 and a federal judge in 2006. Further federal appeals were filed, leading to the 5th Circuit ruling.

Court records show that on Jan. 24, 1981, Trotter and two other people traveled from New Orleans to Inglewood, California. They kidnapped Allen and stole her father’s car. After the kidnapping, the defendants drove to New Orleans and then to Laurel where Allen was killed.

The three were later arrested in Chicago.

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