Submitted: April 5, 2015
Andrew J. Vella, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.
Brian J. Chapman, Esquire, 1232 N. King Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, Delaware 19801, Attorney for Defendant Andre Fletcher.
COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE DENIED.
Commissioner Lynne M. Parker.
This 19th day of May, 2015, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
1. On December 17, 2001, Defendant Andre Fletcher was indicted on the charges of Murder in the First Degree, Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony and Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited. These charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on November 3, 2001 in which Defendant admittedly fatally shot Richard Holland but claimed that he acted in self-defense.
2. On December 19, 2002, a Superior Court jury found Defendant Fletcher guilty of the lesser-included offense of Murder in the Second Degree and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony. At the conclusion of the jury trial, the trial judge found Defendant guilty of Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited.
3. On May 2, 2003, Defendant was sentenced to a total of 29 years at Level V incarceration followed by one year at Level IV.
4. Defendant filed a direct appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. On July 2, 2004, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court.
5. On November 4, 2005, Defendant filed his first motion for postconviction relief. Defendant's motion for postconviction relief was denied by the Superior Court on May 9, 2006.
6. Defendant filed the subject motion, his second motion for postconviction relief, on August 26, 2013.
7. The facts giving rise to the subject charges, as set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in its opinion on Defendant's direct appeal, are set forth below.
8. On November 3, 2001 at 1:50 a.m., Defendant admittedly fatally shot Richard Holland, but claimed that he acted in self-defense.
9. At trial, Defendant Fletcher claimed self-defense and testified as follows: Holland and two other men tried to rob him at gunpoint. After an exchange of words, Holland pulled out a gun and Fletcher (who had extensive training in the martial arts) "charged him." Both men struggled over the weapon, bumped into a van, and the gun went off twice- "as quick as you can blink." On a videotaped police interview, however, Fletcher made statements that the prosecution regarded as an admission by Fletcher that the second shot was not fired accidentally.
10. The State presented two purported eyewitnesses to the shooting. The first, Jerry Taylor, a friend of the victim (Holland), testified that he had planned to meet Holland at the place and time of the shooting. As Taylor approached Holland, he saw Fletcher walking up to the victim, who was standing alone. Although Taylor did not hear any words being exchanged, he did see the victim's hands go up into the air, and immediately thereafter he (Taylor) heard one gunshot. Taylor ducked behind a car, heard a second shot "like seconds afterward, " then saw Holland fall to the ground and Fletcher run down the alley.
11. The second eyewitness, Marvin Cross, testified that he was sitting in his car listening to music in front of the house of his friend, Ivan Simonet, for whom he (Cross) was waiting. Cross testified that although he was not focusing on the victim, he saw the events out of the corner of his eye. When asked if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, Cross responded "no, probably not yet." The gunshots and the flash from the barrel drew his attention to the scene, which was five or six houses up from where Cross was parked.
12. Out of the corner of his eye, Cross saw Fletcher approach the victim. It appeared that Fletcher and Holland exchanged words, although Cross could not hear the words. Cross saw the victim put his hands out to the sides with palms up, heard the two shots, and then saw the victim fall to the ground and Fletcher running right past his car. The police arrived within a few seconds, but Cross drove off without talking to the police. Shortly thereafter, Cross returned and talked to ...