Submitted: January 31, 2014
Upon Defendant's Motion to Sever.
Marie O'Connor Graham, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the State of Delaware.
Adam D. Windett, Esquire of Hopkins & Windett, Esquire, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge
The issue before the Court is whether the Court should grant Defendant Greene 's Motion to Sever so that his co-defendant can provide exculpatory test imony.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On May 6, 2013, Defendant Jemal Greene (hereinafter "Greene") was arrested at the Super 8 Hotel in Milford on charges of drug dealing and various firearms offenses. A black duffel bag containing a firearm and heroin was recovered by police. Other drugs and an additional firearm were found in the hotel room. Greene was indicted along with three other defendants from the same incident: Megan Maloney, Melissa Summers, and Robin Walls (hereinafter "Walls").
Following the arrest, Walls gave a statement to the arresting officers informing them that a black duffel bag containing a firearm and heroin belonged to Walls, and not the other defendants. According to Greene, Walls told the officers that Walls "had to man up and take responsibility so others wouldn't take the blame."
Greene filed the instant Motion to Sever pursuant to Criminal Rule 14 on January 27, 2014. Greene argues that Walls' statement is highly exculpatory as to Greene's involvement in the underlying crime, and thus Greene's trial should be severed from his co-defendants' so that Walls can testify about his statement. Neither of the other two defendants in this case has joined Greene's Motion to Sever. The State opposes the motion.
The Court heard arguments on Greene's motion on January 31, 2014. Greene informed the Court that Walls, through counsel, has expressed his intent to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if there is a joint trial. Greene contended that if the trials were severed, Walls would be available to testify. The State responded that even if the trials were severed, there was no guarantee that Walls would be available to testify because his availability would depend on whether Greene or Walls is tried first. The State also argued that there is sufficient independent evidence of Greene's guilt: Greene's DNA was found on the handgun contained in the duffel bag, and when Greene was arrested he was sitting on a pillow, under which police found a loaded handgun.
Generally, defendants who are indicted together should also be tried together.Superior Court Criminal Rule 14 allows a defendant to file a motion for separate trials if it appears that a joinder of defendants in a single trial would prejudice the movant.The Court has "sound discretion" in determining whether to grant a defendant's motion to sever. The defendant who files a motion to sever bears the burden of demonstrating "substantial ...