By Ray King

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday said Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis was correct when she dismissed a petition by an inmate who claimed that his prison sentence was illegal.

John Irving Rawls, 29, is currently serving a 25-year-sentence at the Tucker Unit after pleading guilty to first-degree battery discharging a firearm from a vehicle in 2017.

In his appeal, Rawls contended that his sentence for discharging a firearm from a vehicle was illegal because it was listed as a Class Y felony and he argued that when he committed the crime, it was a Class B Felony.

Writing for the court, Associate Justice Shawn Womack said the Arkansas General Assembly classified discharging a firearm from a vehicle as a Class Y Felony in 1993. Rawls was sentenced to 25 years in prison and the maximum sentence for a Class Y Felony is 40 years or life in prison. Therefore, the 25 year sentence is well within the maximum authorized by law.

Rawls will be eligible to apply for parole in 2023.