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State v. Wonnum
Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle
July 3, 2014
STATE OF DELAWARE
JONATHAN M. WONNUM Defendant
Submitted: April 4, 2014
Upon Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief.
Scott D. Goodwin, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.
Jonathan M. Wonnum, Smyrna, Delaware, pro se.
COOCH, R. J.
This 3rd day of July 2014, upon consideration of Defendant's Second Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:
1. Defendant Jonathan M. Wonnum ("Defendant") filed this Second Motion for Postconviction Relief based on his apparent belief that his trial counsel was ineffective during his plea negotiation process and that he was wrongly denied counsel during his subsequent postconviction proceedings. He asks the Court to revisit his plea negotiations as well as his First Motion for Postconviction Relief addressing same.
2. Defendant's first trial for First Degree Murder and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony ended in a mistrial on the murder charge. The jury convicted Defendant on the weapon charge but deadlocked eleven to one in favor of conviction as to the murder.
3. On August 9, 1993, the morning of Defendant's retrial, Defendant pleaded guilty to First Degree Murder. As a result of the plea, the State set aside the verdict on the weapon charge. The Court conducted a thorough plea colloquy and was satisfied that the guilty plea was "knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently offered."
4. Before his sentencing, Defendant submitted a pro se letter asking to withdraw his guilty plea. He claimed he was "forced" into taking the plea. After considering the letter as a Motion to Withdraw his guilty plea and a thorough review of the record, this Court denied the motion. It held that "Defendant's request to withdraw guilty plea amounts merely to a change of mind of Defendant and does not demonstrate that the plea was involuntary or that Defendant was otherwise mistaken about his legal rights." Defendant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole the next day and did not appeal.
5. Defendant, pro se, filed his First Motion for Postconviction Relief in 1996. In it, he again claimed issues with his guilty plea. He also claimed he was denied access to transcripts of his first trial. This Court denied his Motion as previously adjudicated as to the guilty plea and found his transcript arguments "completely conclusory."The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed this Court's denial on appeal.
6. Defendant has now filed a Second Motion for Postconviction Relief.He again claims ineffective assistance of counsel relating to his guilty plea, now claiming he was "tricked" into taking it. Defendant's second ground requests counsel and claims that the absence of counsel during his first motion establishes its own ineffective assistance claim. Defendant's request for counsel was DENIED in the April 24, 2013 Order of Briefing issued by the Court.
7. Under the Delaware Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure, a Motion for Postconviction Relief can be barred for time limitations, repetitive motions, procedural defaults, and former adjudications. A motion exceeds time limitations if it is filed more than one year after the conviction is finalized or they assert a newly recognized, retroactively applied right more than one year after it is first recognized. A motion is considered repetitive and therefore barred if it asserts any ground for relief "not asserted in a prior postconviction proceeding." Repetitive motions are only considered if it is "warranted in the interest of justice." Grounds for relief "not asserted in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction" are barred as procedural default unless movant can show "cause for relief" and "prejudice from [the] violation." Grounds for relief formerly adjudicated in the case, including "proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a postconviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus hearing" are barred. Former adjudications are only reconsidered if "warranted in the interest of justice."
8. Before addressing the merits of this Second Motion for Postconviction Relief, the court must first apply the procedural bars of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i). If a procedural bar exists, then the Court will ...
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