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State v. Outlaw

Superior Court of Delaware

May 19, 2017


          Submitted: April 26, 2017

          Barzilai K. Axelrod, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Timothy Outlaw, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, pro se.


          Katharine L. Mayer, Commissioner

         This 19th day of May, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:


         1. On September 28, 2015, Timothy Outlaw, Defendant, was indicted on the charges of Robbery First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Conspiracy Second Degree, Aggravated Menacing, Possession Own or Control of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited (2 counts), Possession Own or Control of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited (2 counts), Drug Dealing, Aggravated Possession, and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP") (2 counts).

         2. On February 29, 2016, Defendant signed a Plea Agreement and Truth in Sentencing Guilty Plea Form (the "TIS Form"). Defendant indicated he was satisfied with his counsel's representation and that he was freely and voluntarily pleading guilty to the charges listed. Defendant also recognized that he was waiving certain rights including the right to a trial, to be presumed innocent until the State can prove each and every part of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, to confront witnesses against him, and to present evidence in his defense. On the TIS Form, the Robbery First charge was shown to have a minimum mandatory sentence of five years, and the PFBPP charge was noted to have a ten year minimum mandatory sentence.

          3. Through the Plea Agreement, Defendant agreed to plead guilty to the charges of Robbery First Degree, Conspiracy Second Degree, PFBPP and Drug Dealing. The plea also included a violation of probation for drug dealing. All remaining charges were dismissed. Although the agreement recognized that Defendant was habitual offender eligible, the plea included a non-habitual sentence recommendation. The Plea Agreement also provided that the parties would recommend sentencing to include "15 years Level V, suspended after 5 years (minimum/mandatory)..." for the Robbery First charge and "15 years Level V, suspended after 10 years Level V (min/mand)..." for the PFBPP charge.

         4. The Court held a plea hearing on February 29, 2016 at which time the Court engaged in a detailed colloquy with the Defendant. Defendant acknowledged the possible sentence as well as the waiver of his rights and after each charge was read in detail, admitted he committed the acts and entered a guilty plea. Notably, at the plea hearing, the Court inquired, and Defendant confirmed, that he had the opportunity to discuss the evidence and any defenses with his counsel as well as ask him any questions, that he fully understood the plea process, and that he was satisfied with counsel's representation.[1]

         5. Defendant was later sentenced on May 20, 2016. For the Robbery First charge, Defendant received 25 years at supervision Level 5 suspended after 5 years (the minimum mandatory) at Level 5, followed by decreasing levels of supervision. With respect to the PFBPP charge, Defendant was sentenced to 15 years at Level 5 suspended after 10 years (the minimum mandatory). Defendant received additional time for the other charges, but all other Level 5 time was suspended for probation at decreasing levels.

         6. Since then, the Court has addressed Defendant's sentencing on at least two occasions. Defendant filed a Motion for Sentence Reduction and/or Modification that was denied on October 19, 2016.[2] In his motion for sentence reduction, Defendant argued that the Court should remove the 5 years for the Robbery First charge that he "didn't commit" and take some time off for the guns that he "didn't possess." Defendant also argued that he had inadequate representation at the time the plea was taken and that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the crimes he pled guilty to. The Court held that Defendant's plea was knowing, intelligent and voluntary; that Defendant had discussed the evidence in his case with his attorney; that Defendant indicated he was satisfied with his attorney's representation during the criminal matter; the Court had a right to rely on Defendant's statements at his plea hearing and at sentencing; and Defendant failed to acknowledge the State's video surveillance that placed him at the scene of the Robbery First.

         7. Defendant also informally wrote to the Court and argued for a sentence modification, which was denied by Court letter dated January 12, 2017.[3] Through that letter, the Court addressed Defendant's argument that he believed he would be sentenced to no more than 8.5 years at Level 5 rather than the 15 years that he received. The Court reminded Defendant that the Robbery First charge carried a minimum mandatory of 5 years and the PFBPP charge required a minimum mandatory of 10 years. All of this was made known to Defendant when he signed the Plea Agreement and TIS Form.

         8. Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief raises several grounds that include multiple subparts, and at times, repetitive arguments. In summary, Defendant argues (i) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the search of his grandmother's home, investigating his ankle monitor, and failing to file "motions" early in the case; (ii) that he was unlawfully detained and questioned at his home and the station for more than two hours and the search warrant relied on false information; (iii) the evidence proves he is innocent and the police officer perjured himself; and (iv) his attorney told him 8 years was the minimum mandatory, and the plea agreement says the same, but his inmate sheet says 15 years.

         ANALYSIS OF ...

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