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State v. Carter

Superior Court of Delaware

July 5, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
KERRU CARTER, Defendant.

          Submitted: May 2, 2017

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief SUMMARILY DISMISSED

          ORDER

          HON. ANDREA L. ROCANELLI, JUDGE

         Upon consideration of the Motion for Postconviction Relief ("PCR Motion") filed by Defendant Kerru Carter ("Defendant"); Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61"); the facts and arguments set forth by Defendant; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. On March 1, 2016, the Wilmington Police Department responded to a shooting on the 2900 block of N. Jessup Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Upon arriving at the scene, officers discovered a victim with multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen and back. Officers eventually uncovered surveillance footage depicting Defendant shooting the victim at close range with a handgun. On March 22, 2016, Defendant was arrested. At the time of Defendant's arrest, Defendant was on probation for prior criminal convictions.

         2. A Grand Jury charged Defendant with multiple felony offenses, including Attempted Murder First Degree; Robbery First Degree; Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony; Conspiracy Second Degree; Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited; and Criminal Mischief. Defendant was appointed counsel to represent him ("Defense Counsel").

         3. On November 21, 2016, Defendant appeared before the Court and pleaded guilty to Robbery First Degree; Conspiracy Second Degree; Assault First Degree; and Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony. In exchange for Defendant's guilty plea, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining felony charges against Defendant.

         4. On March 24, 2017, the Court sentenced Defendant consistent with Defendant's plea agreement. As to Robbery First Degree, 8 years at Level V, suspended after 3 years at Level V for decreasing levels of supervision. As to Conspiracy Second Degree, 60 days at Level V with no probation to follow. As to Assault First Degree, 7 years at Level V, suspended after 2 years at Level V for 2 years at Level III. As to Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, 5 years at Level V with no probation to follow.

         5. On May 1, 2017, Defendant filed the Motion for Postconviction Relief ("PCR Motion") that is currently before the Court. Defendant asserts that (1) Defense Counsel coerced Defendant into accepting a guilty plea; and (2) Defense Counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by convincing Defendant to plead guilty despite physical evidence indicating Defendant's innocence.

         6. Defendant filed the PCR Motion on May 1, 2017. Accordingly, the current version of Rule 61 applies.[1] Postconviction relief is a "collateral remedy which provides an avenue for upsetting judgments that have otherwise become final."[2] To protect the finality of criminal convictions, the Court must consider the procedural requirements for relief set out under Rule 61 (i) before addressing the merits of the motion.[3]

         7. Rule 61(i)(1) bars a motion for postconviction relief that is filed more than one year from a final judgment of conviction.[4] This bar is inapplicable, as Defendant's PCR Motion is timely. Rule 61(i)(2) bars successive motions for postconviction relief.[5] This bar is inapplicable, as this is Defendant's first motion for postconviction relief. Rule 61(i)(3) bars relief if the postconviction motion includes claims that were not asserted in prior proceedings leading to the final judgment, unless the movant shows cause for relief from the procedural bars and prejudice from a violation of the movant's rights.[6] Moreover, Rule 61(i)(4) bars relief if the postconviction motion includes grounds for relief formerly adjudicated in any proceeding leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, or in a postconviction proceeding.[7] Rule 61(i)(3) and 61(i)(4) are inapplicable because Defendant's claims for ineffective assistance of counsel could not have been raised on direct appeal.[8]

         8. The procedural requirements of Rule 61(i) are satisfied. Accordingly, the Court will address Defendant's PCR Motion on the merits.

         9. The standard used to evaluate claims of ineffective assistance is the two-prong test articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington[9] as adopted in Delaware.[10] Under Strickland, Defendant must show that (1) Defense Counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for Defense Counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.[11] Failure to prove either prong will render Defendant's claim insufficient.[12]

         10. The Court shall dismiss entirely conclusory allegations of ineffective assistance.[13] The movant must provide concrete allegations of prejudice, including specifying the nature of the prejudice and the adverse affects actually suffered.[14]Moreover, the movant must overcome the strong presumption that counsel's conduct was professionally reasonable.[15] Defendant must assert specific allegations ...


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