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Walls v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 10, 2017

JOSEPH WALLS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: January 13, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID Nos. 86001399DI, 86013001DI

          Before HOLLAND, VALIHURA, and VAUGHN, Justices.

          ORDER

          Karen L. Valihura Justice

         This 10th day of March 2017, upon consideration of the parties' briefs[1] and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Joseph Walls, filed this appeal from the Superior Court's denial of his motion for time served and for credits, motion for medical parole release, and motion for reargument. After careful consideration, we affirm the Superior Court's denial of the motions.

         (2) The record reflects that Walls was convicted, in 1986, of multiple charges arising from a home invasion ("Criminal ID No. 86013001DI") and, in 1987, of multiple charges arising from a different home invasion ("Criminal ID No. 86001399DI"). This Court affirmed most of Walls' convictions on direct appeal.[2] Walls is serving a life sentence, with the possibility of parole, plus eighty-nine years in Criminal ID No. 86013001DI and Criminal ID No. 86001399DI.

         (3) On April 10, 2015, Walls filed a motion for time served and for credits. Walls argued that the effective date of his sentence in Criminal ID No. 86013001DI should be corrected from May 25, 1987 to January 24, 1986 because he was first incarcerated on January 24, 1986. Walls subsequently requested medical parole release under 11 Del. C. § 4346 or 11 Del. C. § 4217 for treatment of his post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") at a Veterans Administration Hospital. At the Superior Court's request, the State responded to Walls' motions. In addition to filing multiple replies to the State's response, Walls filed a "memorandum of law supplement to illegal sentence motion" in December 2015 and another supplement in February 2016. Walls added claims that: (i) his sentence for Possession of a Deadly Weapon During Commission of a Felony ("PDWCF") in Criminal ID No. 86013001DI was illegal because at the time of his crimes Davis v. State[3] prohibited sentences for Robbery in the First Degree and PDWDCF where the underlying felony was Robbery in the First Degree; (ii) he could not be convicted of PDWDCF in Criminal ID No. 86013001DI based on his possession of a baseball bat; and (iii) the State failed to prove all of the elements required for Kidnapping in the First Degree and Kidnapping in the Second Degree in Criminal ID No. 86001399DI.

         (4) In a letter dated May 17, 2016, the Superior Court denied Walls' motions. The Superior Court stated that the Department of Correction confirmed Walls did not have any additional credit for time served on Criminal ID No. 86001399DI or Criminal ID No. 86013001DI and the effective date for those sentences was May 25, 1987. As to Walls' request for medical parole, the Superior Court held that it did not have jurisdiction or authority to grant parole. Walls filed a motion for reargument, which the Superior Court denied on June 20, 2016.

         (5) This Court reviews the Superior Court's denial of a motion for correction of sentence for abuse of discretion, although questions of law are reviewed de novo.[4] As he did below, Walls argues that the effective date of his Criminal ID No. 86013001DI sentence, which was originally effective June 25, 1987 and was later made effective on May 25, 1987 to credit Walls for time he served between May 11, 1987 and June 1, 1987, should be January 24, 1986 because that was when he was originally incarcerated. Walls acknowledges, however, that he was incarcerated on January 24, 1986 for Court of Common Pleas sentences totaling sixty days. Walls also acknowledges that he was sentenced to eighteen months incarceration beginning on June 27, 1986 in Superior Court Criminal ID No. 85004084DI. We take judicial notice that the Superior Court modified the start date of this sentence to April 16, 1986. We also take judicial notice that, on February 13, 1986, the Superior Court sentenced Walls to non-suspended time of sixty days in Criminal ID No. 85003288DI.

         (6) In light of the twenty-two months of Level V time he was sentenced to between January 24, 1986 and June 27, 1986, Walls has not shown that he is entitled to any additional credit against his Criminal ID No. 86013001DI sentence for the time he served between January 24, 1986 and May 25, 1987. The Superior Court did not err therefore in denying Walls' motion for credit for time served.

         (7) Walls next argues that his sentence for PDWDCF is illegal because, at the time he committed the crimes, Davis v. State prohibited sentences for both Robbery in the First Degree and PDWDCF where the underlying felony was Robbery in the First Degree.[5] Walls, however, was charged with PDWDCF based on Assault in the Second Degree, not Robbery in the First Degree.[6] To the extent Walls claims a portion of the PDWDCF jury instructions improperly amended the indictment to make Robbery in the First Degree the underlying felony, he is attacking his PDWDCF conviction. This claim falls outside the narrow scope of Rule 35(a).[7] Rule 61 is the exclusive remedy for a person seeking to set aside their convictions.[8]

         (8) Walls next argues he could not be convicted of PDWDCF in Criminal ID No. 860013001DI because a baseball bat is not a deadly weapon and the State failed to prove all of the elements required for Kidnapping in the First Degree and Kidnapping in the Second Degree in Criminal ID No. Criminal ID No. 86001399DI. Although Walls frames these arguments as illegal sentence claims, he is actually challenging his PDWDCF and kidnapping convictions. These claims fall outside the narrow scope of Rule 35(a).[9] Rule 61 is the exclusive remedy for a person seeking to set aside their convictions.[10]

         (9) Finally, Walls claims the Superior Court should have exercised its jurisdiction under the Veterans Treatment Court Program to modify his sentence under 11 Del. C. § 4217, recommend the Board of Parole grant him medical parole release under Del. C. ยง 4346, or modify his sentence under its own authority. This claim is without ...


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