JONATHAN M. WONNUM, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee
Submitted March 13, 2015.
Case Closed July 8, 2015
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. 30206697DI.
Before STRINE, Chief Justice; HOLLAND and VAUGHN, Justices.
Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chief Justice.
This 28th day of May 2015, it appears to the Court that:
(1) The appellant, Jonathan M. Wonnum, has appealed the Superior Court's denial of his second motion for postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 (" Rule 61" ). After careful consideration of the parties' briefs on appeal and the trial court record, we affirm the Superior Court's judgment.
(2) In May 1993, Wonnum was tried for the stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, Carla Williams. The jury found Wonnum guilty of possessing a weapon during the commission of a felony but was unable to come to a unanimous decision on the murder charge, voting eleven to one in favor of conviction. As a result, the Superior Court declared a mistrial on the murder charge and set the matter for a retrial in August 1993.
(3) On the morning of jury selection in the second trial, the parties entered into a plea agreement under which Wonnum agreed to plead guilty to first degree murder and the State agreed to move the Superior Court to set aside the verdict on the weapon offense. After conducting a colloquy to ensure that Wonnum's plea was voluntary and informed, the Superior Court accepted Wonnum's guilty plea, ordered a presentence investigation, and scheduled sentencing for September 15, 1993.
(4) One week before sentencing, Wonnum submitted a pro se letter asking the Superior Court to withdraw his guilty plea and to appoint him new counsel because, according to Wonnum, his defense counsel had " forced" him to plead guilty. The Superior Court treated Wonnum's letter as a motion to withdraw the guilty plea under Superior Court Criminal Rule 32(d).
(5) After reviewing the transcript of the guilty plea proceeding and holding an office conference with counsel, the Superior Court denied Wonnum's request to withdraw the guilty plea. In its order of September 14, 1993, the court determined that the plea was knowing and voluntary and that Wonnum had not demonstrated any breach of performance of his defense counsel. The following day, the Superior Court sentenced Wonnum to life in prison. Wonnum did not file an appeal from the denial of his motion to withdraw the guilty plea.
(6) Wonnum filed his first motion for postconviction relief pro se in August 1996. Wonnum claimed that his guilty plea was involuntary due to ineffective assistance of counsel and a defective guilty plea colloquy. Wonnum contended that the guilty plea was " coerced" because his defense counsel did not explain to him that his guilty plea would be an admission to the crime of first degree murder. Wonnum also complained that his defense counsel did not provide him with a transcript of his first trial and claimed that he could have negotiated a better plea had his defense counsel obtained the transcript. Wonnum contended that the guilty plea colloquy was defective ...