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State v. Campbell

Superior Court of Delaware

February 13, 2017


          Submitted: December 5, 2016

          Matthew Frawley, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Keith L. Campbell, Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware, pro se.



          This 13th day of February, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief and Motion for Appointment of Counsel, it appears to the Court that:


         1. On January 20, 2015, Defendant was indicted on the following charges: two counts of Attempted Murder First Degree, two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, and Conspiracy First Degree.

         2. Defendant, with the assistance of trial counsel, submitted several motions to suppress search warrants and statements made by Defendant. After full briefing, and oral argument, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion on October 6, 2015 granting the motion in part and denying it in part. By way of the motions, Defendant raised five distinct arguments including that the information in the warrant was insufficient to establish probable cause and whether there were any alleged misstatements by the detective in the search warrant affidavit which required a Franks[1] hearing. The Court held that the warrants were sufficient to establish probable cause and there was no proof that the detective's statements were untruthful or that Defendant was entitled to a Franks hearing.

         3. On October 6, 2015, Defendant pled guilty to Assault First Degree, Assault Second Degree, Conspiracy Second Degree, and one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited (the "PFBPP Charge"). In the Plea Agreement, the State agreed to cap its Level 5 recommendation at 15 years or to recommend 25 years of Level 5 incarceration suspended after 15 years, followed by decreasing levels of probation.[2] Prior to accepting this plea, Defendant rejected an offer from the State that involved Defendant pleading guilty to several felonies and the State's recommendation to cap the time to be served at Level 5 at 10 years.[3]

         4. On that same date, Defendant also signed a Truth-in-Sentencing Form acknowledging that he was freely and voluntarily pleading guilty to the charges listed in the Plea Agreement, that he had not been promised anything that was not stated in the written Plea Agreement, and that no one threatened or forced him to enter the plea. Defendant also acknowledged that by pleading guilty he was waiving the right to a trial, to question witnesses, and if convicted, to file an appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court with the assistance of a lawyer. Further, Defendant acknowledged that based on the totality of the charges to which he was pleading guilty, the consecutive maximum sentence could be 50 years.

         5. Defendant later filed two Motions to Withdraw Guilty Plea. On April 21, 2016, the Court denied the motion but agreed to reduce the Defendant's minimum mandatory time for the PFBPP Charge to 5 years.[4]

         6. In support of the Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, trial counsel submitted a letter indicating Defendant was incorrectly advised by counsel (and the Court) regarding the minimum penalty for the PFBPP Charge.[5] In fact, Defendant argued that the prosecutor, defense attorney, and the judge all misunderstood the minimum penalty for the PFBPP Charge.

         7. In the April 21, 2016 decision, the Court (i) acknowledged that Defendant did not argue that he was unclear as to the terms of the Plea Agreement, that his mental or physical condition rendered the plea involuntary, or that he was mistaken with regard to his legal rights; (ii) held that counsel aggressively pursued Defendant's legal position in seeking to suppress evidence and urging the Court to hold a Franks hearing; (iii) emphasized that the Plea Agreement substantially reduced Defendant's exposure in that if he had been convicted at trial, he would likely be spending the remainder of his life incarcerated; and (iv) recalled the extensive colloquy with Defendant regarding the rights he was giving up and the Plea Agreement he was accepting and that Defendant displayed no hesitation or confusion.

         8. The Court then analyzed Defendant's two previous convictions, to which he plead guilty and was sentenced on the same day, and held that while Defendant committed two separate crimes on different days, they were to be treated as a singular conviction subjecting Defendant to the five-year minimum mandatory sentence, rather than a ten year minimum mandatory term originally thought to apply.[6] The Court denied the motion to withdraw the guilty plea on the basis that Defendant entered into the plea knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, and the reduction only benefited ...

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