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Holmes v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

July 17, 2014

MARVIN HOLMES, Defendant-Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee

Submitted June 6, 2014

Case Closed August 4, 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 New Castle County. Cr. ID 1210015494.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and RIDGELY, Justices.



Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice

This 17th day of July 2014, upon consideration of the briefs of the parties and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

(1) On August 15, 2013, a Superior Court jury found the appellant, Marvin Holmes, guilty of escape after conviction under 11 Del. C. § 1253.[1] On October 18, 2013, the Superior Court declared Holmes to be a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(a) and sentenced him to eight years of Level V imprisonment. This is Holmes' direct appeal.

(2) The evidence presented at trial established that, in October 2012, Holmes was serving a Level IV work release sentence at the Plummer Community Corrections Center (" Plummer" ) after a violation of probation (" VOP" ). On October 22, 2012, Holmes left Plummer on a half-day pass and did not return. In February 2013, the United States Marshal Service detained Holmes in Philadelphia and returned him to Plummer.

(3) Holmes raises multiples issues on appeal, which may fairly be summarized as follows: (i) he was justified in failing to return to Plummer because the State falsely accused him of attempted rape and strangulation in another matter, which caused him to suffer at Plummer and to be publicly attacked on the street; (ii) his rights were violated at a May 24, 2012 VOP hearing; (iii) the circumstances surrounding his 2011 guilty plea to the aggravated menacing conviction underlying his VOP were unfair; (iv) he received ineffective assistance of counsel; (v) he was subjected to vindictive prosecution; (vi) the trial court erred by refusing to admit certain documents into evidence; (vii) he has been subjected to double jeopardy; (viii) his actions did not satisfy the standard for escape after conviction; and (ix) he was denied a fair trial. We find no merit to Holmes' claims and affirm.

(4) Holmes' arguments regarding attempted rape and strangulation charges that were brought against him, and then dismissed, in another matter are difficult to follow. Holmes appears to argue that he was justified in not returning to Plummer because the charges caused him to have problems at Plummer and led to a public attack while he was out on a pass on October 22, 2012. There is little indication in the trial record that Holmes raised a justification defense at trial. Holmes did not request a jury instruction on justification. He did not testify or try to testify about problems he allegedly suffered at Plummer or the attack he allegedly suffered on October 22, 2012. At trial, Holmes' primary defense was that a VOP was not a conviction for purposes of escape after conviction under 11 Del. C. § 1253.[2] The only indication that Holmes tried to raise a justification defense at trial is that he asked a Plummer employee to describe the nature of the problems Holmes had at Plummer.[3] The trial judge sustained the prosecutor's objection to that question on the grounds of relevance.[4]

(5) Assuming Holmes' question regarding his problems at Plummer was an effort to raise a justification defense at trial, we review the Superior Court's evidentiary ruling for abuse of discretion.[5] " An abuse of discretion occurs when 'a court has . . . exceeded the bounds of reason in view of the circumstances, [or] so ignored recognized rules of law or practice so as to produce injustice.'" [6] Claims that the trial judge violated a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to present a defense are reviewed de novo.[7] Justification is only available as a defense to escape after conviction when: (i) the prisoner is faced with a specific threat of death, forcible sexual attack, or substantial bodily injury in the immediate future; (ii) there is no time for a complaint to the authorities or there exists a history of futile complaints which make any result from such complaints illusory; (iii) there is no time or opportunity to resort to the courts; (iv) there is no evidence of force or violence used towards prison personnel or other innocent persons in the escape; and (v) the prisoner immediately reports to the proper authorities when he has attained a position of safety from the immediate threat.[8] Holmes' conclusory and unsubstantiated contentions do not satisfy this standard. Holmes identifies no specific or immediate threats of death, forcible sexual attack or substantial bodily injury he faced at Plummer, he fails to show that he had no time or opportunity to resort to the courts to the extent that he was harassed at Plummer or attacked outside of Plummer, and he does not claim that he immediately reported to the ...

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