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Taylor v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

September 25, 2013

Marc T. TAYLOR, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE of Delaware, Plaintiff Below, Appellee. Kevin Rasin, Defendant Below, Appellant,
State of Delaware, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

Submitted: July 3, 2013.

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Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County, Cr. I.D. Nos. 1008008293, 1009014476.

Upon appeal from the Superior Court. AFFIRMED.

Michael C. Heyden, Esquire (argued), Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellant Marc T. Taylor.

James J. Haley, Jr., Esquire (argued), Ferrara & Haley, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellant Kevin Rasin.

Maria T. Knoll, Esquire (argued), and Karen V. Sullivan, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellee State of Delaware.

Before HOLLAND, BERGER, JACOBS and RIDGELY, Justices and NOBLE, Vice Chancellor,[*] constituting the Court en Banc.

BERGER, Justice:

In this appeal we consider, among other things, the constitutionality of Delaware's gang participation statute, 11 Del. C. ยง 616. Appellants argue that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because it does not define the term " actively participates." In addition, they say that the statute is overbroad because it impinges on the right of free association. Both arguments lack merit. A person of ordinary intelligence can understand what it means to actively participate in a criminal street gang's criminal conduct, and there is no constitutional right to assemble for the purpose of committing a crime. Appellants' remaining claims, about evidentiary rulings and the trial court's denial of a motion to sever, also fail. Accordingly, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

This appeal involves a number of crimes, including murders, attempted murders, assaults, and weapons charges, stemming from a dispute between two rival gangs in Wilmington, Delaware. One is a group of men who grew up together and are members of a rap group named the " TrapStars." Appellants Marc Taylor and Kevin Rasin are TrapStar members, as are Kevin Fayson, Terrance Mills, Darnell Flowers, Jeroy Ellis and Quincey Thomas. Robert Valentine and Terry Smith are known associates of the TrapStars. Initially, the TrapStars performed for street audiences and posted rap videos on YouTube wearing black hooded sweatshirts depicting their TrapStars logo. By 2008, the TrapStars had become a criminal street gang and sold drugs to finance their music-related endeavors. The rival gang, called " Pope's Group," also sold drugs and engaged in other illegal activities in West Wilmington. Pope's Group is a subset of the Latin Kings. The members of Pope's Group are Jose Charriez, Tyaire Brooks, Carlos Rodriguez, Carlos Rosa, David Hill, Carlos Callazo, Marcus Crawford, and Alvan

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Butcher. Jason Ortiz and Marco Cruz are Latin Kings.

In December 2009, the two gangs started fighting. Brooks and Rodriguez burglarized Nakevis Walker's house, known as the " Trap House," which was the place where the TrapStars stored firearms, money, and drugs. Brooks and Rodriguez stole from the TrapStars because Mills owed them drug money. A few weeks later, Mills, his mother, and Ellis, confronted Brooks and Rodriguez on the street. That fight ended when Hill fired a gun into the air. Three weeks later, Mills started another fight, this time with Rosa. Ellis, Brooks, and Hill were present, and the fight ended when Hill took Mills' gun and aimed it at Mills.

The fighting escalated in February 2010, when Fayson and a Latin King gang member were involved in a drug deal that culminated in the murder of Anthony Doyle. Hill was related to Doyle. A few days after Doyle's murder, Hill shot at Fayson in front of a Metro PCS store. On April 3, 2010, Brooks, Hill, Charriez and Rosa went to Mills' house. Hill shot through Mills' front door, almost hitting Mills' sister. The police arrested Charriez and Hill.

The next day, the TrapStars, including Rasin and Taylor, met at Fayson's house to plot revenge. They agreed to post lookouts with weapons in the area of Franklin and 3rd Street. On April 5, 2010, Rodriguez and Brooks became suspicious when they noticed Mills and Thomas in a car, circling the block. One of the two Pope's Group members contacted Butcher, who joined them, and gave Rodriguez a gun. During the gun battle that followed, Butcher was killed. The next day, someone set Ellis's car on fire. After Butcher's murder, the war between the two gangs intensified. Pope's Group members were instructed to shoot TrapStars " on sight." On April 30, 2010, Fayson, accompanied by Rasin, and armed with a gun allegedly procured through Taylor, repeatedly shot at Jazzmon Smith and Kenneth Swanson, who were in a maroon colored car. Rasin and Fayson then fled in Rasin's Pontiac. Fayson gave the gun to Rasin.

On May 3, 2010, Crawford and Charriez were driving down Adams Street. When they stopped at a red light, Rasin ran into the street behind their car and started shooting at them. Charriez was shot in the head and killed. At the time of the shooting, Taylor, Valentine, and Fayson were with Rasin at the intersection where Charriez was killed. Rasin gave Taylor the murder weapon to clean and reload.

On May 6, 2010, Taylor was shot while walking in the 800 block of North Adams Street. Taylor survived the shooting and ran into a nearby apartment. When the police arrived at the scene, they traced Taylor's steps, and found a handgun in the apartment. That gun was later connected to previous homicides. On May 15, 2010, Taylor thought Larry Whye, a person he did not know, was following him. Taylor shot Whye in the hand. Whye apparently was unaffiliated with either the TrapStars or Pope's Group.

Taylor was arrested on August 10, 2010, and indicted on 11 felony counts, including gang participation, second degree conspiracy, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, second degree assault, possession with intent to deliver, and resisting arrest. Rasin was arrested on September 17, 2010, and indicted on 14 felony counts, including gang participation, two counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, second degree conspiracy, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Six other TrapStars co-defendants pled guilty. Rasin and Taylor went to ...

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