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Keyser v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 20, 2014

MICHAEL E. KEYSER, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee

Submitted January 6, 2014

Case Closed April 7, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below--Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County. Cr. ID 0310021647.

Before BERGER, JACOBS, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Jack B. Jacobs, Justice

ORDER

This 20th day of March 2014, upon consideration of the appellant's Supreme Court Rule 26(c) brief, his attorney's motion to withdraw, and the State's response thereto, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The defendant-below/appellant, Michael Keyser, has appealed from the Superior Court's denial of his first motion for postconviction relief. A Superior Court jury convicted Keyser in 2004 of Murder in the First Degree and Conspiracy in the First Degree for the murder of Kimberly Holton. Despite the jury's 10-2 vote in favor of a death sentence, the Superior Court sentenced Keyser to life imprisonment. This Court affirmed Keyser's convictions and sentence on direct appeal.[1] Thereafter, with the assistance of appointed counsel, Keyser moved for postconviction relief, which the Superior Court denied on June 29, 2012. This appeal followed.[2]

(2) Keyser's counsel on appeal has filed a brief and a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 26(c). Keyser's counsel asserts that, based upon a complete and careful examination of the record, there are no arguably appealable issues. By letter, Keyser's attorney informed him of the provisions of Rule 26(c) and provided Keyser with a copy of the motion to withdraw and the accompanying brief. Keyser also was informed of his right to supplement his attorney's presentation, and has raised several issues for this Court's consideration. Having responded to the position taken by Keyser's counsel, and also to the issues raised by Keyser, the State has moved to affirm the Superior Court judgment.

(3) Our standard and scope of review applicable to a motion to withdraw and an accompanying brief under Rule 26(c) is twofold: (a) this Court must be satisfied that defense counsel has made a conscientious examination of the record and the law relating to arguable claims; and (b) this Court must conduct its own review of the record and determine whether the appeal is so totally devoid of at least arguably appealable issues that it can be decided without an adversary presentation.[3]

(4) The State's trial evidence reflects that, on September 29, 2003, Keyser drove Kimberly Holton to a motel in Dover. At the motel, Keyser and Jacob Jones both had sex with Holton. Afterward, Keyser held down Holton's legs while Jones suffocated her. The two men then wrapped Holton's body in a blanket, bound the blanket in duct tape, and put Holton's body in the trunk of Jones' car. Jones later rented an airplane and disposed of Holton's body in the Atlantic Ocean. On October 8, 2003, Holton's body was discovered three miles off the coastline of Cape May, New Jersey.

(5) Jones committed suicide on October 20, 2003. On October 24, 2003 and October 27, 2003, Keyser voluntarily turned himself in to the police and gave taped interviews. Keyser was read his Miranda rights before both interviews and waived his right to counsel on both occasions. The gist of Keyser's statements implicated Jones as the mastermind behind Holton's murder. Keyser told police that he helped Jones kill Holton because he was afraid of him, and because Jones had ...


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