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George v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 6, 2015

MONIR GEORGE, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee.

Submitted: January 14, 2015

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County No. 0805035299

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

ORDER

James T. Vaughn Jr. Justice

On this 6th day of March 2015, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Defendant-below/Appellant Monir George ("George") appeals from a Superior Court Order denying his amended Rule 61 motion for postconviction relief. George was found guilty but mentally ill of Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, and three counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"). On direct appeal, we affirmed George's convictions. In this appeal, George raises three claims. First, George contends that the trial court erred by not finding that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to litigate whether George intelligently waived his right to a jury trial. Second, George contends that the trial court erred by finding that his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was barred by Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(i)(4). Finally, George contends that the trial court erred by refusing to grant an evidentiary hearing to determine whether other grounds existed for postconviction relief. We find no merit to George's claims. Accordingly, we affirm.

(2) In May 2008, George was arrested for the shooting death of Malak Michael ("Michael"), a deacon and chief fundraiser for St. Marty's Coptic Orthodox Church.[1] Prior to trial, George waived his right to a jury trial by signing a waiver of jury form, and by asserting his desire to proceed with a bench trial in the following colloquy with the trial court:

THE COURT: All right. Mr. George, you signed a paper, after a colloquy with me, and after discussions with your counsel, that indicate your wish to waive a jury trial, your wish to give up your right, your constitutional right, to be tried by a jury and, instead, your wish to proceed in a bench trial, with the judge sitting as the trier of fact. Is that your wish?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you have any questions or concerns about that?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: Ms. Van Amerongen.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: No, Your Honor.

(3) At trial, four witnesses to the incident, two of whom assisted in disarming George after he shot Michael, testified against George. A number of witnesses also testified concerning George's pattern of animosity toward the church clergy and George's depressed mood prior to the shooting. Additionally, three experts from the Delaware Psychiatric Center-Robert Thompson, Ph.D., a forensic psychologist, Carol Tavani, M.D., a psychiatrist, and Stephen Mechanick, M.D., also a psychiatrist, testified concerning George's mental state at the time of the incident. Drs. Thompson and Mechanick opined that George was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. Dr. Tavani opined that he was insane at the time of the shooting. George was convicted of all charges against him, and sentenced to life in prison on the first degree murder conviction, to ...


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