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Daniels v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

December 8, 2014

JAMEL DANIELS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee

Submitted October 28, 2014

Case Closed December 24, 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 No. 0107003610.

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

ORDER

Karen L. Valihura, Justice

This 8th day of December 2014, upon consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the appellee's motion to affirm, and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Jamel Daniels, filed this appeal from the Superior Court's denial of his second motion for postconviction relief. The State of Delaware has filed a motion to affirm the judgment below on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Daniels' opening brief that his appeal is without merit.[1] We agree and affirm.

(2) The record reflects that, in June 2003, a Superior Court jury found Daniels guilty of Murder in the First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Daniels was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and an additional twenty years for the weapons offense. This Court affirmed the Superior Court's judgment on direct appeal.[2]

(3) Daniels, represented by counsel, filed his first motion for postconviction relief on March 19, 2008 and a supplemental motion on April 30, 2010. In his motions, Daniels argued that: (i) his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to retain an expert to conduct an independent examination of DNA evidence on a cigarette butt found at the crime scene, failing to pursue the discovery of exculpatory evidence, and failing to insist on a speedy trial; (ii) the State failed to disclose that the DNA evidence was weak, failed to correct a witness' testimony concerning the accreditation of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's (" OCME" ) laboratory, failed to produce recordings in which Daniels' co-defendant Lou Price[3] did not implicate Daniels in the murder, failed to turn over the statement of a witness who heard Price implicate two other individuals people for the murder, and committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (iii) his right to a speedy trial was violated; and (iv) his appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by only raising the prosecutorial misconduct claim on appeal. On September 22, 2010, the Superior Court denied Daniels' postconviction motion. The Superior Court concluded that the ineffective assistance of counsel claims were without merit and that the other claims were procedurally barred under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i) (" Rule 61" ) and without merit. Daniels filed a pro se appeal and we affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court.[4]

(4) Daniels filed his second motion for postconviction relief on August 1, 2013. In this motion and supporting memorandum, Daniels argued that: (i) his trial counsel was ineffective because Daniels could not be convicted for Murder in the First Degree under the State's theory of the case and the jury instructions under 11 Del. C. § § 271 and 274; (ii) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to provide contrary serological and ballistic evidence; (iii) his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for excluding the testimony of a witness who heard Price implicate two other individuals people for the murder; (iv) his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained after Daniels was illegally arrested in a drug bust conducted by Pennsylvania police the night after Griffith's murder; [5] (v) Pennsylvania police did not have probable cause to arrest Daniels because he was only a passenger of the car driven by the individual who was caught selling drugs; (vi) one of Daniels' trial attorneys was reported to smell of alcohol during the trial and suffered from Alzheimer's; (vii) a witness committed perjury in testifying about the accreditation of the OCME laboratory; (viii) the Superior Court improperly excluded or his counsel failed to include testimony of a witness who heard Price identify other individuals for the murder of Griffith; and (ix) the State's confusing or mislabeled production of materials relating to a prison informant's communications with Price about Price's motive for killing Griffith, which was different than the motive that multiple witnesses testified to at trial, was a violation of Brady v. Maryland.[6]

(5) On August 1, 2014, the Superior Court denied Daniels' second postconviction motion. The Superior Court found that Daniels' claims were procedurally barred under Rule 61(i) and without merit. This appeal followed.

(6) We review the Superior Court's denial of postconviction relief for abuse of discretion and questions of law de novo.[7] The procedural requirements of Rule 61 must be ...


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