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State v. Stevenson

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

April 30, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
DAVID D. STEVENSON, (ID. No. 9511006992) Defendant.

Submitted: December 17, 2013.

Upon Consideration of the Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.

Gregory E. Smith, Esq., Elizabeth R. McFarland, Esq., Department of Justice, Attorneys for the State.

Patrick J. Collins, Esq., Collins & Roop, Attorney for Defendant.

OPINION

VAUGHN, President Judge.

After a joint Superior Court trial, a jury found Michael Manley ("Manley") and David Stevenson ("Stevenson") guilty of First Degree Murder and related charges. At the first penalty phase, the Superior Court followed the jury's recommendations and sentenced both defendants to death.[1] Both of the defendants' sentences were affirmed on direct appeal.[2] On November 2, 1998, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari.[3]

On January 25, 1999, Manley filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Rule 61, which this Court denied.[4] On February 8, 1999, Stevenson filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Rule 61, which this Court denied.[5] On appeal, however, the Delaware Supreme Court vacated both defendants' death sentences and ordered a new penalty hearing.[6] The Delaware Supreme Court ordered that the new penalty hearing be held before a Superior Court Judge different from the judge that presided over the trial and first penalty hearing. This judge was also to re-consider the defendants' Motions for Postconviction Relief and any amendments thereto.

On September 7, 2001, Manley filed an Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief before a new Superior Court Judge. On March 26, 2003, Manley also filed a Motion to Preclude a New Penalty Hearing. On October 2, 2003, this Court denied both defendants' Motions for Postconviction relief and Manley's Motion to Preclude a New Penalty Hearing.[7] The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed these rulings on October 18, 2004.[8]

On December 6, 2005, after a new penalty hearing was held, the jury recommended death for both defendants. On February 3, 2006, this Court sentenced both defendants to death. On January 3, 2007, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed both defendants' death sentences.[9] On May 29, 2008, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari.[10]

This is Stevenson's second Motion for Postconviction Relief, originally filed on November 28, 2007.

FACTS

The following facts are set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in its 2007 opinion:

In 1994, Stevenson was employed by Macy's Department Store in the Christiana Mall. While employed at Macy's, Stevenson used customers' credit card information to issue false gift certificates. Macy's Security department employees, Parminder Chona ("Chona") and Kristopher Heath ("Heath") investigated the matter. Stevenson was subsequently charged with theft and the matter was scheduled for trial in the Superior Court.
On the evening prior to Stevenson's scheduled court date, a black male wearing a long puffy black jacket knocked on the door to Heath's residence. His fianceé, Deborah Dorsey, answered. Dorsey informed the male that Heath was not home and the individual departed. Dorsey called Heath to tell him about the incident and that she was frightened. She also noted that the individual was not Stevenson, as she would have recognized him from her employment at Macy's.
On the morning of November 13, 1995, Heath was murdered in the parking lot of his residence at the Cavalier Country Club Apartments. Heath was shot in the back five times with a nine-millimeter handgun. The murder occurred on the same morning that Heath was to testify against Stevenson at his criminal trial. Upon hearing the gunfire, several residents at the apartment complex called police.
One resident, Lance Thompson, informed the police that he observed a black male run to and enter a mid-sized blue vehicle with faded and peeling paint. Thompson saw the license plate number and gave it to police. At this time, Patrolman Daniel Meadows of the New Castle County Police broadcasted the license plate number and vehicle description over the police radio. It was soon discovered that the license plate was registered to Stevenson and his mother at 206 West 20th Street in Wilmington, Delaware.
Wilmington Police arrived in two squad cars at 206 W. 20th Street. The officers saw a car fitting the description given by Meadows arrive at the same time with two black men inside. The passengers started to exit the vehicle but reentered after observing the approaching officers. The suspects drove away with patrol cars in pursuit. After a short chase, the suspects fled on foot and were taken into custody.
The occupants of the vehicle were Manley and Stevenson. Manley matched the description of the shooter given by eyewitnesses. After Stevenson was apprehended and brought to police headquarters, police searched the patrol car used to transport him. On the floor was a slip of paper with the name, address and phone number of Chona, the other Macy's employee who investigated Stevenson for the theft along with Heath.

STEVENSON'S CONTENTIONS

_____Stevenson has filed a motion, amended motion, and a second amended motion. In his motion as amended, Stevenson raises the following grounds for relief:

_____Ground One: the defendant's trial counsel was ineffective during the 2005 penalty phase because counsel failed to present to the jury that at the time of the offense, the defendant was only 21 years old–an age that has been recognized as a constitutionally relevant mitigating circumstance; that the defendant was entitled to the jury's and the Court's full recognition and consideration of any and all mitigating factors; that counsel failed to even develop age as a mitigating factor; if age had been presented to the jury, there is a reasonable probability that the jury would have accorded significant ...


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