Submitted: April 21, 2017
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID
STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and SEITZ, Justices.
14th day of July 2017, upon consideration of the parties'
briefs and the record on appeal, it appears to
the Court that:
January 2016, a Superior Court jury convicted the defendant-
appellant, Jermaine Booker, of Assault in the First Degree
(as a lesser included offense to Attempted Murder in the
First Degree), Home Invasion, Burglary in the Second Degree,
Robbery in the First Degree, Theft, and Possession of a
Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony. The Superior
Court sentenced him to serve forty-four years in prison.
Booker was represented by counsel at trial. On appeal, he
requested and was permitted to waive his right to appellate
counsel. This is Booker's pro se direct appeal.
charges against Booker stemmed from two separate incidents on
November 21, 2013 and January 2, 2014, respectively,
occurring at neighboring homes in the Windsor Hills
development in Wilmington. The first homeowner, Drew Van Dyk,
testified at trial that his home was burglarized on November
21, 2013. Stolen from his home were two bicycles, multiple
electronic items, prescription drugs, keys to his 1998 Subaru
and a 1997 driver's manual for the car, and an old New
Jersey license plate that had been on his grandmother's
car. When he reported the burglary to the police, Van Dyk
told officers that, two days before the burglary, a young
black man came to his home asking if he needed any yard work
done. The young man was carrying a dark backpack and said his
name was Enoch, which is Booker's middle name. Van Dyk
gave the young man $10 and a ride to a nearby bus stop.
owners of the second burglarized home, John Warfield and
Jacqueline Fiore, also testified at trial. Warfield testified
that he left home on the morning of January 2, 2014 to attend
an 8:00 a.m. training session for a new computer that he
bought at Christmas. His wife, who was still sleeping at home
when he left, was scheduled to attend a separate session for
her new computer later that afternoon. When he returned home
around 9:30 a.m., his garage door was open and his wife's
Lexus was gone. There were other items also missing from the
garage, including a leaf blower and gas can. He entered the
house and found his wife on the first floor of their home
beaten unconscious and bloody. He called 911.
paramedic and a forensic nurse both testified at trial. The
paramedic testified that, upon arriving at the scene, Ms.
Fiore was a trauma code, meaning that her injuries were life
threatening. She was unconscious and her airway was
obstructed by blood. Upon her arrival at the hospital
emergency room, the forensic nurse took photographs and
documented Ms. Fiore's injuries, which included several
incise wounds to her face and head caused by a sharp object.
She had bruising, abrasions, and lacerations all over her
body, multiple rib fractures, multiple face fractures, a
collapsed lung, injuries to her eye, and swelling of her
brain. Ms. Fiore remained in the hospital for several weeks.
Jacqueline Fiore testified that she had no memory of January
2, 2014. Before that morning, she had been an active retiree
who traveled, volunteered, exercised regularly, and had a
black belt in karate. As a result of the assault, she spent
several weeks in the hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries
including a craniotomy due to swelling in her brain, and
several more months in rehabilitation facilities. She lost
one eye and was left blind in the other. She suffers
left-side paralysis due to a stroke caused by the beating.
She now requires a full-time aide to help her with activities
of daily life, and she remains in significant pain.
State's evidence also fairly established that, on January
2, 2014, Booker took his then-pregnant girlfriend to Red
Lobster on Concord Pike to celebrate her birthday. He told
her that he was going to drive to New Jersey to see his
cousin, Kendall Briscoe. On January 4, 2014, Booker drove to
Briscoe's home in Newark, New Jersey. EZ-Pass records
reflected the precise times that the transponder associated
with Fiore's Lexus entered and exited the New Jersey
Turnpike on January 4, 2014. Briscoe's girlfriend
testified that Booker arrived at her home in New Jersey on
the afternoon of January 4. Although she did not see Briscoe
exit or enter a car, she did notice an unfamiliar Lexus
parked in front of her home. She also saw Booker and Briscoe
walking toward the Lexus as she was leaving her house, but
she did not see if they got into the car.
Later on January 4, 2014, a police officer from Newark, New
Jersey saw the Lexus spin out in the snow. She saw the two
occupants of the Lexus, Booker and Briscoe, get out of the
car and walk away, leaving the car parked next to a fire
hydrant. The New Jersey license plate on the vehicle was not
registered. When the officer stopped Booker and Briscoe to
question them about the car, Briscoe gave non-responsive
answers to her questions, and then the two men ran away.
Additional police officers gave chase and ultimately found
the pair hiding under another car. Both men were arrested and
charged with resisting arrest and receiving stolen property.
Jersey police discovered that not only was the Lexus stolen
but it was associated with the assault in Delaware. The car
was towed back to Delaware shortly thereafter. It was later
discovered that the expired license plate on the Lexus was
the one stolen from Drew Van Dyk's garage. Forensic
testing recovered Booker's fingerprints on the back of
the stolen license plate. Other items found in the stolen
Lexus included a leaf blower, gas can, a black backpack with
male clothes, a positive pregnancy test,  a steak knife, a
box cutter, and green Nike sneakers with Ms. Fiore's
blood on them. Booker's father testified that the shoes
resembled the pair that he had given Booker for Christmas.
Neither Booker's fingerprints nor his DNA were recovered
from the interior of the car or from any of the objects found
inside the car.
After the State rested its case, Booker's counsel moved
for a judgment of acquittal on the charges of home invasion
and second degree burglary as well as the weapon charge. The
Superior Court denied the motion. Booker did not testify or
present any other evidence in his own defense at trial. The
jury found Booker not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty
of the lesser included offense of first degree assault and
all of the remaining charges. This appeal followed.
Booker raises eight issues in his pro se opening
brief on appeal. First, he alleges a denial of his
constitutional right to a speedy trial. Second, he contends
that the State committed a Brady violation when it
failed to timely supply the underlying data supporting its
experts' conclusions. Third, he contends that the
evidence was insufficient to convict him. Fourth, he contends
that the Superior Court erred in admitting expert testimony
regarding blood spatter. Fifth, he contends that his trial
counsel was ineffective in failing to cross-examine the two
victims about their exculpatory out-of-court identifications.
Sixth, he contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to subpoena witnesses in support of an alibi defense.
Seventh, he asserts that the trial judge abused his
discretion and imposed a sentence that constitutes cruel and
unusual punishment. Finally, he contends that the prosecutor
made multiple improper comments during his closing argument.
We address these claims in order.
Booker's first claim on appeal is that the Superior Court
erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment for the
State's violation of his right to a speedy trial. We
review de novo the alleged denial of a
constitutional right. In order to determine whether a
defendant's speedy trial rights were violated, a court
assesses four factors: a) the length of the delay; b) the
reason for the delay; c) the defendant's assertion of the
right; and d) prejudice to the defendant. Unless the delay
is lengthy enough to be presumptively prejudicial, there is
no need to inquire into the remaining factors. There is no
precise length of time that will trigger a speedy trial
analysis in every case because longer periods of delay may be
excusable in serious and complex cases.
This was a serious and complex case. It involved the
commission of multiple serious felonies at multiple crime
scenes and required the collection and extensive forensic
testing of a large quantity of evidence. The case also
required the cooperation of New Jersey authorities. Although
Booker asserts that the two-year delay between his January
2014 arrest and his January 2016 trial was prejudicial, the
factual underpinning of his argument is incorrect. His
January 2014 arrest is not the proper starting point for
analyzing the length of the delay in this case because his
arrest in January 2014 was for violating New Jersey law in a
different, albeit related, case. He was not indicted,
arrested, and returned to Delaware to face charges for the
Windsor Hills crimes until September 2, 2014. Thus, the total
elapsed time between Booker's indictment and his trial
was about sixteen months. Given the complexities of this
case, we do not find that delay to be presumptively
prejudicial under the specific circumstances presented here.
Thus, we find no merit to Booker's argument and do not
address any of the remaining factors in the speedy trial
Booker next argues that the State committed a Brady
violation when it failed to timely disclose the underlying
data for the expert's DNA analysis. In Brady v.
Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that the
prosecution must disclose to the defense evidence favorable
to the defendant. There are three elements to a
Brady violation: "the evidence at issue must be
favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory,
or because it is impeaching; that evidence must have been
suppressed by the State; and prejudice must have
ensued." In this case, Booker does not dispute
that the State provided the information requested before
trial and that the Superior Court gave the defense almost
four months to review it and consult with its own expert.
Under the circumstances, we find no Brady violation
because there was no suppression and no prejudice.
Next, Booker contends that the evidence was insufficient to
prove that he was the perpetrator of these crimes. In
reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, the Court must
determine, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, whether any rational
trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. The State can meet its burden of proof
through direct or circumstantial evidence. In-court
identification or eyewitness testimony is not required to
prove identity. Rather, the test to establish identity
is whether a rational jury, ...