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State v. Brice

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

February 26, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MILES E. BRICE Defendant.

Submitted: November 6, 2013

Miles E. Brice, pro se.

Kathleen Jennings, Office of the Attorney General, 820 North French Street Wilmington, DE 19801

OPINION

M. Jane Brady Judge

I. Introduction

Before the Court is (1) a Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61") and (2) a Motion for Appointment of Counsel filed by Miles Brice ("Defendant"). Defendant filed both Motions on November 6, 2013. The State did not respond to either of Defendant's Motions. Defendant has previously filed four motions for postconviction relief, all of which were denied or summarily dismissed, and through the instant Motion for Postconviction Relief Defendant asserts ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's fifth Motion for Postconviction Relief is DENIED and Defendant's Motion for Appointment of Counsel is MOOT.

II. Facts

A. Background

In July 2001, Defendant, together with a co-defendant, chased an individual with whom Defendant had a feud into an apartment.[1] Defendant and the co-defendant tried to force their way into the apartment, and Defendant, who was carrying a semi-automatic handgun, fired eleven bullets through the door, killing two individuals as well as injuring another party.[2] Defendant and the co-defendant fled from the apartment building and were subsequently arrested one day after the shooting.[3] The police discovered the murder weapon under a sofa cushion where Defendant was sitting at the time he was arrested.[4]

A grand jury returned an indictment against Defendant on July 30, 2001, charging him with two counts of Felony Murder in the First Degree, one count of Attempted Murder in the First Degree, one count of Assault in the Second Degree, one count of Conspiracy in the First Degree, two counts of Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree, five counts of Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, and a number of related weapons offenses. The case went to trial in December 2003.[5] Following the completion of the State's case-in-chief, Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of Felony Murder First Degree in exchange for the State dismissing the remaining counts of the indictment and agreeing not to seek the death penalty.[6] Defendant was subsequently sentenced to two life terms.[7] Defendant did not file a direct appeal from his convictions or sentences.[8]

B. Defendant's Previous Motions for Postconviction Relief

Defendant filed his first motion for postconviction relief in January 2008.[9] Through his first motion, Defendant asserted (1) that his guilty plea was involuntary and (2) ineffective assistance of counsel, asserting trial counsel failed to inform him regarding how Delaware's Felony Murder statute is interpreted.[10] As part of the briefing schedule for Defendant's first motion, this Court ordered Defendant's trial counsel to file an affidavit responding to Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.[11] After considering Defendant's first motion, the State's response, and trial counsel's affidavit, this Court denied Defendant's first motion.[12] Defendant appealed this Court's decision to the Delaware Supreme Court.[13] The Supreme Court affirmed this Court's denial, finding Defendant's first motion was time-barred pursuant to Rule 61(i)(1), and, further, that Defendant failed to establish a "fundamental fairness" exception.[14] Regarding Defendant's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, the Delaware Supreme Court concluded there was no support in the record to support Defendant's contention.[15]

Defendant filed a second motion for postconviction relief one day after the Delaware Supreme Court issued its decision affirming the denial of Defendant's first motion.[16]Defendant's second motion asserted, among other things, [17] ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's alleged failure to inform Defendant of the "new" interpretation of Delaware's Felony Murder statute.[18] This Court concluded that Defendant's second motion was procedurally barred by Rule 61(i)(4), because the claims raised, including ineffective assistance of counsel, had been formerly adjudicated in the first motion for postconviction relief.[19] Defendant appealed this Court's decision to the Delaware Supreme Court, which affirmed the denial of Defendant's second motion by Order dated January 18, 2012.[20]

On February 10, 2012, Defendant filed his third motion for postconviction relief.[21]Among the grounds raised, Defendant asserted that his guilty plea was not knowingly and intelligently provided because he did not receive "real notice of the true nature of the charges against him."[22] This Court found Defendant's claim that his plea was not knowingly and intelligently given was a variation or restatement of his claim that he had been misinformed about the elements of Delaware's Felony Murder statute, which was previously rejected.[23] For that reason, the Court found that Defendant's claim was procedurally barred and Defendant's ...


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