Submitted September 10, 2014
Case Closed September 26, 2014.
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 Sussex County. Cr. I.D. Nos. 1211007824, 1305013170, 1212004273.
Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and RIDGELY, Justices.
Randy J. Holland, Justice
This 10th day of September 2014, it appears to the Court that:
(1) On January 15, 2013, Hickman was charged by information with Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony (" PFDCF" ), Criminal Mischief over $5,000, and Misdemeanor Theft. On February 18, 2013, a Sussex County grand jury indicted Hickman with two counts each of drug dealing, Aggravated Possession of a Controlled Substance, PFDCF, and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, and one count of Conspiracy Second Degree (collectively, the " Drug Case" ). On May 20, 2013, a grand jury indicted Hickman on two counts each of noncompliance with conditions of bond and terroristic threatening and one count each of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal contempt of a domestic violence protective order.
(2) On November 8, 2013, Hickman resolved two of the cases against him--all but the Drug Case--by pleading guilty to Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon (" CCDW" ) and Noncompliance with Bond. Sentencing pursuant to the plea agreement was set to occur after a presentence investigation and after the conclusion of the Drug Case against Hickman.
(3) On November 26, 2013, Hickman agreed to plead no contest to Maintaining a Drug Property to resolve the Drug Case. The trial court ordered sentencing for the Drug Case to occur after a presentence investigation was completed.
(4) On December 20, 2013, the Superior Court held a sentencing hearing for all three cases against Hickman. The Superior Court sentenced Hickman as follows: CCDW--eight years Level V incarceration, suspended after six years for two years Level IV home confinement; remaining charges-eight years Level V incarceration, suspended for eighteen months Level III probation. The Superior Court also fined Hickman $10,000.
(5) Hickman argues that the Superior Court abused its discretion in sentencing him when it relied on factual predicates that were false or lacked minimum indicia of reliability. He specifically points to four pieces of evidence that allegedly should not have been relied upon by the Superior Court as part of its sentencing analysis.
(6) First, Hickman submits that evidence of his being twice a shooting victim (the " Shooting Evidence" ) should not have been factored into the sentencing. There was no evidence introduced that his victimhood was caused by involvement in illegal activity and it should have been viewed merely as a function of his surroundings rather than any choice of his own. Second, Hickman contends that the presence of other weapons in his home (the " Guns Evidence" ) lacks the necessarily reliability to conclude that he was involved in the drug trade. Third, Hickman disputes the Superior Court's conclusion that he was involved in the drug trade based on the large sums of money he possessed. Hickman claims that he received the $2,250 that was found on his person from a personal injury settlement rather than from drug activity. Fourth, Hickman contends that the Superior Court improperly relied on evidence that he had money in his backyard without record support (collectively, the third and fourth pieces of evidence are referred to ...