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State v. Dearry

Superior Court of Delaware

July 21, 2017


         Upon Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief: DENIED

          Submitted: April 24, 2017

          Abigail M. LeGRow, Judge

         This 21st day of July, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief (the "Motion") under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61") and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:


         1. Jamaal Dearry was indicted in December 2014, along with several co-defendants, for racketeering and conspiracy, as well as various firearm and drug charges based on evidence found during a search of Dearry's residence at 51 Brookside Boulevard, Newark, Delaware (the "Residence").[1] According to the affidavit of probable cause supporting Dearry's arrest warrant, the search of the Residence was conducted pursuant to a search warrant.[2] At the time of the search, keys were found in Dearry's front pocket that opened two safes in his bedroom.

         The safes contained significant quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, oxycodone, and crack cocaine, two loaded handguns, and a picture of Dearry and an unknown woman. The magazine of one of the handguns bore Dearry's fingerprint. Dearry jointly was charged with several co-defendants who were apprehended and indicted for racketeering based on an investigation dubbed "Operation Son Sun."

         2. Donald R. Roberts, Esquire ("Trial Counsel") represented Dearry throughout the case. Dearry's criminal record included past convictions for drug and gun-related felonies and, at the time of his arrest, he was on probation for two such charges. Five months after he was indicted, Dearry pleaded guilty to one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP"), one count of Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony (PFDCF"), and one count of Drug Dealing Tier 2.[3]

         3. In connection with his plea, Dearry signed a Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea form in which he (i) denied he was forced to enter into the plea, and (ii) acknowledged he was waiving certain constitutional rights, including the right to proceed to trial and force the State to prove the charges against him. Dearry also acknowledged on the form that he was satisfied with his lawyer's representation and that he had been advised fully of his rights.

          4. Before accepting the plea, the presiding judge engaged in a colloquy with Dearry regarding his decision to plead guilty and the rights he was waiving by so doing. During that hearing, Dearry acknowledged signing the Truth-in- Sentencing form and confirmed he reviewed the form with Trial Counsel and truthfully answered the questions on it.[4] The presiding judge reviewed with Dearry the three charges to which he was pleading guilty. Dearry admitted committing each of those crimes.[5] The judge also reviewed with Dearry the constitutional rights he was waiving by pleading guilty, as well as the potential sentence he was facing as a result of the guilty plea, which was 15 to 55 years at Level V.[6] Dearry agreed that he accepted the guilty plea, at least in part, to avoid the life sentence he would have faced if he was convicted at trial on all counts in the indictment.[7] The presiding judge then engaged in the following discussion with Dearry:

THE COURT: Now, this is very important. So much of what you're doing now is important, Mr. Dearry, but let's focus closely on this for a moment. Once this plea is accepted today, it is going to be almost impossible for you to find a way back out of it. Do you understand that?
THE COURT: And another especially important question is, are you satisfied with the work that Mr. Roberts has performed for you as your lawyer?
THE COURT: And are you satisfied that entering this plea is a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent thing that you are doing?
* * *
THE COURT: All right. If you've got any problems with Mr. Roberts, you've got the Court's undivided attention right now. Once this plea is entered, the Court is not going to - - the Court is going to be skeptical of you complaining that Mr. Roberts somehow has let you down or put pressure on you or anything like that. Do you follow me?


THE COURT: So, is there anything at all that we need to talk about concerning your feelings toward Mr. Roberts?


THE COURT: So, as far as you can tell, Mr. Roberts seems to have done as best a job as he could have in this situation?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.[8] The judge thereafter accepted Dearry's plea, holding it was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.[9]

         5. Dearry was sentenced on January 22, 2016 as follows: (i) as to PFBPP, ten years at Level V; (ii) as to PFDCF, five years at Level V, and (iii) as to Drug Dealing, five years at Level V, suspended for 18 months at Level III.[10] In other words, Dearry's ...

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