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Pennewell v. Victims' Compensation Assistance Program

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

October 31, 2014

GWENZELLA D. PENNEWELL, Appellant,
v.
VICTIMS' COMPENSATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, Appellee.

Submitted: July 31, 2014

On Appeal from the Decision of the Victims' Compensation Assistance Program Appeals Board of the State of Delaware

Gwenzella D. Pennewell, Pro Se Appellant.

Ralph K. Durstein, III, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Victims' Compensation Assistance Program.

OPINION

Diane Clarke Streett Judge

Introduction

Appellant Gwenzella D. Pennewell ("Appellant") appeals the November 16, 2012 decision of the Victims' Compensation Assistance Program Appeals Board (the "Board"). The Board affirmed the Victims' Compensation Assistance Program's ("VCAP") decision to deny Appellant's claim for compensation for her son's funeral expenses based on her son's behavior at the time of his death. VCAP determined that Appellant's son was found shot inside of a vehicle after his 10:00 p.m. curfew and, as a result, he had violated a condition of his probation at the time of his death.

On appeal, Appellant contends that her son did not have a 10:00 p.m. curfew at the time of his death because he had been released on bail.

For the reasons set forth below, the Board's decision is affirmed.

Factual and Procedural Background

On June 13, 2012, at 1:11 a.m., Wilmington Police responded to a report of a car accident at 9th and Grant Streets in Wilmington and found Appellant's son inside of a vehicle on the Woodlawn Library's property. He had sustained a gunshot wound to his chest. Appellant's son was transported to Christiana Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

That same day (June 13, 2012), Appellant submitted a claim form to VCAP. Appellant sought compensation for her son's funeral/burial expenses.

On June 18, 2012, VCAP denied an award of funeral expenses for Appellant's son under 11 Del. C. § 9010. VCAP found that although Appellant's son was the victim of a homicide, he was on probation with a 10:00 p.m. curfew when the homicide occurred and that the police report "supports the position that [he] was not in his home at 10:00pm, in violation of his probation."[1]

According to the police report, Appellant's son sustained a gunshot wound to his chest at an unknown location on June 13, 2012 at 1:11 a.m. and "then halted his vehicle on the west side of the street up onto the property of the [W]oodlawn [L]ibrary" in Wilmington.[2]

On July 2, 2012, Appellant submitted a reconsideration form to VCAP. Appellant requested that VCAP reconsider its decision to deny payment of funeral expenses for her son because her son had been released on bail and had "new stimulation[s]" imposed upon him. Appellant also submitted copies of documents related to her son's release on bail.[3]

On July 5, 2012, VCAP issued a reconsideration decision and found that the additional information that Appellant provided did not support ...


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