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State v. Rowley

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

January 13, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
SHAMUS ROWLEY, Defendant.

Submitted: November 5, 2013

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Honorable Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge

On May 18, 2011, Wilmington Police executed a search warrant at 205 S. DuPont Street, Apartment 1S, Wilmington, Delaware. Shamus Rowley was arrested and released on June 2, 2011 after posting bail. Subsequently a grand jury indicted Mr. Rowley for eight (8) felonies and two (2) misdemeanors. Mr. Rowley did not appear at his final case review on December 5, 2011 and a capias was issued. On May 3, 2012, Mr. Rowley's capias was returned and he was arrested and incarcerated in lieu of $150, 000 cash bail.

On June 26, 2012, Mr. Rowley pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited. Mr. Rowley was represented by his trial attorney, Raymond Armstrong, Esquire ("Trial Counsel"). As part of the plea agreement the State recommended that Mr. Rowley receive a sentence of eighteen (18) years. For the charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine, the State recommended ten (10) years at supervision Level 5, suspended after a minimum mandatory time of three (3) years, for two (2) years at supervision Level 4, suspended after six (6) months for Level 3 probation. As to the charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, the State recommended that Mr. Rowley be sentenced to eight (8) years at supervision Level 5, suspended after a minimum mandatory time of five (5) years for concurrent probation. The plea agreement also indicated that the State would not move to declare Mr. Rowley a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214 (a) and (b).

The Court engaged in a lengthy and detailed plea colloquy with Mr. Rowley. The Court asked Mr. Rowley if he had been promised or guaranteed the sentence that would be imposed by the Court. Mr. Rowley answered "No sir." The Court also asked Mr. Rowley if he understood that the State's sentencing recommendation would not control the sentence imposed by the Court at the time of sentencing. Mr. Rowley answered "Yes, sir." During the course of the plea colloquy and also through the "Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form, " Mr. Rowley was informed that the Court could impose up to twenty-three (23) years for the two convictions.

Mr. Rowley was sentenced on September 7, 2012 and was committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections for twenty-three (23) years at Level 5. As to the charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine, Mr. Rowley was sentenced to fifteen (15) years at supervision Level 5, suspended after five (5) years, for three (3) years at supervision Level 4 work release, suspended after six (6) months, for one (1) year and six (6) months at supervision Level 3. As to the charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Mr. Rowley was sentenced to eight (8) years at supervision Level 5, suspended after six (6) years, for two (2) years at supervision Level 3. The sentence was effective May 3, 2012, and included fourteen (14) days of credit time for the days detained in 2011.

I. Mr. Rowley's Rule 61 Motion for Postconviction Relief and Appointment of Counsel by the Court

Mr. Rowley filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief on March 14, 2013 pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 as a self-represented litigant.[1] Rule 61 governs motions for postconviction relief.

In the motion, Mr. Rowley first contends that a miscarriage of justice occurred because the Court did not follow the State's recommendation in the Plea Agreement at sentencing, but rather imposed a more severe sentence. Mr. Rowley also contends that the Court abused its discretion and committed an error of law when it imposed a sentence on Mr. Rowley that did not correspond to the sentence recommended by the State in the Plea Agreement.

Second, Mr. Rowley contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel from his Trial Counsel before he pled guilty. Specifically, Mr. Rowley states that Trial Counsel, who was appointed by the Court to represent Mr. Rowley, did not meet with him until the day of the trial. He also claims that his Trial Counsel failed to make appropriate pre-trial motions, including failure to file a Motion to Suppress.

Third, Mr. Rowley contends that his confession to the police was coerced and made involuntarily because he had consumed substantial quantities of alcohol. Mr. Rowley also claims that use of this involuntary confession violated his Fifth Amendment rights.

After receiving Mr. Rowley's first Motion for Postconviction Relief, the Court appointed counsel, John Barber, Esquire, to represent Mr. Rowley in connection with the motion, pursuant to Rule 61. Mr. Barber reviewed Mr. Rowley's file and Mr. Rowley's Rule 61 motion. Mr. Barber then filed a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel. In his Motion to Withdraw, Mr. Barber indicated that he undertook a thorough analysis of the record to evaluate Mr. Rowley's claims for postconviction relief and determined that the claims do not have enough merit to be ethically advocated. Mr. Barber stated that he also reviewed the record to determine if any other meritorious grounds for relief exist and concluded that there are none.

II. Mr. Rowley's Rule 61 Motion

A. Mr. Rowley's Claim of Abuse of Discretion by the ...


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