By Ray King
An Arkansas prison inmate serving life without parole failed to convince the Supreme Court that his conviction and sentence was void because the jury that convicted him had only 11 members.
Corelanius Phillips, 52, is serving his sentence at the Cummins Unit and appealed the conviction to Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis, who dismissed the claim and Phillips appealed her ruling to the supreme court.
Phillips was convicted of capital murder in Bradley County in 1992 and his effort to send the case back to the circuit court in that county was rejected because he admitted that the judge asked his attorney in open court if continuing with an 11-member jury was acceptable after one juror became incapacitated and Phillips attorney agreed to continue the trial.
The Supreme Court said in its ruling that under state law an attorney must state, on the record and in the presence of the defendant, that the trial could continue with less than a 12-person jury, and Dennis did not err when she denied the petition.