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Desmond v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

August 1, 2014

CHRISTOPHER DESMOND, Defendant-Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee

Submitted June 6, 2014

Motion for Rehearing en Banc August 12, 2014; Denied August 19, 2014. Case Closed August 19, 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 91009844DI.

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

OPINION

ORDER

Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice

This 1st day of August 2014, after careful consideration of the parties' briefs and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Christopher Desmond, filed this appeal from the Superior Court's order, dated January 10, 2014, which denied several motions that Desmond filed in that court seeking to correct his sentence, to dismiss certain charges, and to have counsel appointed to pursue postconviction relief. We find Desmond's appeal legally frivolous. Accordingly, we affirm the Superior Court's judgment.

(2) In November 1992, a Superior Court jury convicted Desmond of twenty-nine criminal charges, including ten counts of Robbery in the First Degree and ten counts of Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, as well as other related offenses. The charges arose from a series of armed robberies of five different Wilmington businesses. The Superior Court sentenced Desmond to more than seventy-eight years in prison. This Court affirmed Desmond's convictions and sentences on direct appeal.[1] Since that time, Desmond has filed numerous petitions seeking postconviction relief, habeas corpus relief, and modification of his sentence.[2] This Court recently affirmed the Superior Court's denial of Desmond's ninth motion for postconviction relief in August 2013.[3]

(3) On October 7, 2013, Desmond filed a motion in the Superior Court seeking correction of his sentence. He alleged that his lengthy prison sentence is illegal because it exceeds his life expectancy and thus is a de facto life sentence. Desmond asserted that his de facto life sentence is illegal because he was not convicted of a Class A felony (the only felony for which a life sentence is authorized), and he was not sentenced as a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(b). Desmond further argued that his multiple sentences should have run concurrently and that his de facto life sentence was disproportionate in light of the General Assembly's recent adoption of Senate Bill No. 9,[4] which gives the Superior Court discretion to sentence a juvenile offender convicted of first degree murder to less than life imprisonment.

(4) On October 14, 2013, Desmond filed another motion in the Superior Court seeking to amend a motion to dismiss that Desmond claimed had been pending in the Superior Court since 1992. The substance of Desmond's motion to amend was that eight of the robbery charges against him in the indictment violated his constitutional rights and should have been dismissed under State v. Bridgers [5] and State v. Owens.[6] Desmond argued that because the Superior Court had never ruled on his motion, he has been prevented by Supreme Court Rule 8 from ever arguing his claim to this Court. He further asserted that the Superior Court should apply the relation back doctrine to his motion to amend and rule on the substance of his motion to dismiss. Desmond also argued that Rule 61 should not be applied to procedurally bar his claim because his unresolved 1992 motion to dismiss had been filed before he was convicted.

(5) Desmond also filed a third motion in the Superior Court on October 14, 2013. That motion requested the appointment of counsel to help Desmond pursue his unresolved 1992 motion to dismiss. On January 14, 2014, the Superior Court denied Desmond's motion for appointment of counsel and also held that ...


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