L. Medinilla, Judge
the Court's decision on Jakevis Ellington
("Defendant")'s Motion to Transfer the Case to
Family Court ("Motion"), filed on April 26,
2017. For the reasons stated below,
Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.
was fourteen years old when he was charged by indictment on
April 17, 2017. The charges are: Murder First Degree,
Robbery First Degree, two counts of Possession of a Firearm
During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"), and
Conspiracy Second Degree. The allegations stem from alleged
conduct that occurred on January 9, 2017. Defendant was
arrested on January 10, 2017, and has been detained at the
New Castle County Detention Center on these charges since
Factual and Procedural Background
reverse amenability hearing on July 6, 2017, Detective
Mackenzie Kirlin testified on behalf of the State and stated
that, on January 9, 2017, police responded to a homicide and
robbery scene at a corner store located at 101 North Clayton
Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Police found the store clerk
dead from an apparent gunshot wound. Change was strewn about
the store floor and countertop, suggestive of a robbery.
January 10, 2017, Defendant's co-defendant, Devonte
Dorsett ("Dorsett"), was arrested in relation to
the above incident. At the time of his arrest, he was
carrying a firearm that was later linked with ballistics
evidence recovered at the crime scene.
was interviewed at the Wilmington Police Department and
described his version of the events on January 9, 2017. He
told police that, on that date, he was present at his
friends' residence located at 204 North Clayton Street.
Defendant was also at the residence, visiting another person
who lived at this address. Dorsett stated that it was
Defendant's idea to rob the corner store. Dorsett
responded that he wanted to rob a nearby "7-11"
store. Nevertheless, the two traveled together to rob the
corner store on Clayton Street.
further admitted to possessing the gun and explained that
Defendant did not carry the firearm at any time during the
robbery. As the two entered the store, Dorsett stated that he
displayed the firearm and demanded that the clerk open the
cash register. Dorsett then told Defendant to pillage the
cash register for money.
Defendant retrieved the money from the cash register, Dorsett
and the clerk began to "tussle" with one another.
Defendant jumped the countertop to leave and dropped change
in the process. Dorsett yelled at him to pick up the money.
Defendant refused and fled the store. As Defendant fled,
Dorsett claims he accidentally discharged his gun, striking
the clerk. He ran from the store and stated that he only
found out online the next day that the clerk had died from
the gunshot wound.
Dorsett's interview, he identified Defendant from a
photo. Defendant was arrested that same day and interviewed
at the Wilmington Police Department. Defendant described a
somewhat different version of the robbery.
stated that he was at the residence on Clayton Street when
Dorsett grabbed him and took him to the basement of the
residence. Dorsett was high on drugs and
alcohol. He showed Defendant the gun and told him
that they were going to rob the corner store. Dorsett told
Defendant that he would shoot him if he did not agree to
assist in the robbery. Defendant complied.
to Defendant's version, they entered the store and
Dorsett drew his gun. Pointing the gun at Defendant, Dorsett
told him to grab the money from the cash register. The
"tussle" occurred when Dorsett blocked the doorway
and prevented the clerk from escaping the store. Defendant
explained that he left the store after refusing to pick up
the change on the ground. He heard a shot while outside the
store. He fled the scene.
fleeing the store, he returned to the Clayton Street
residence. There, he encountered Dorsett again. Defendant
impressed upon someone at the residence to tell Dorsett to
leave the residence. One of the residents instructed Dorsett
to leave and he did.
moved to transfer his case to Family Court on April 26, 2017.
A reverse amenability hearing was held on July 6, 2017. At
the hearing, the State called two witnesses: Det. Kirlin and
Jennifer Skinner, Master Family Service Specialist for the
New Castle County Detention Center.
the parties stipulated to the introduction of three reports:
one from Robin Belcher-Timme, Psy.D.; a second report from
Taunya Batista, M.A.; and a third from Ms. Skinner on behalf
of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their
Families, Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services
("YRS"). After considering the parties'
submissions, arguments, and the testimony during the reverse
amenability hearing, this is the Court's decision on
reverse amenability process is meant to identify those
juveniles charged as adults who are amenable to the
rehabilitative processes of the Family Court. If the juvenile
files a motion to transfer the adult charges, this Court must
hold a reverse amenability hearing and weigh the four factors
set forth in 10 Del. C. §
§ 1011(b), the Court may consider evidence of: (1)
"[t]he nature of the present offense and the extent and
nature of the defendant's prior record, if any;" (2)
"[t]he nature of past treatment and rehabilitative
efforts and the nature of the defendant's response
thereto, if any;" (3) "[w]hether the interests of
society and the defendant would be best served by trial in
the Family Court or in the Superior Court;" and (4) any
"other factors which, in the judgment of the Court are
the Court weighs these factors, however, "the Court must
preliminarily determine whether the State has made out a
prima facie case against the juvenile, meaning
whether there is a fair likelihood that [the defendant] will
be convicted of the crimes charged." There is a fair
likelihood that the defendant will be convicted if, after
reviewing the totality of the evidence presented, it appears
that, if the defense does not sufficiently rebut the
State's evidence, "the likelihood of a conviction is
real... ." Furthermore, "[a] real probability
must exist that a reasonable jury could convict on the
totality of the evidence assuming that the evidence adduced
at the reverse amenability hearing stands unrebutted by the
defendant at trial."
preliminary comment, it should be noted that the State's
argument against transfer included a contention that a
shorter sentence in the juvenile justice system is simply
"not enough" of a sanction for Defendant's
alleged conduct. The General Assembly sets the statutory
ranges for criminal offenses, including those for juvenile
offenders. Abstract arguments about the appropriateness of a
sentence miss the mark. The Court will not consider this
argument. Instead, the Court focuses solely on the factors
under § 1011(b).
it is important to note what distinguishes this Motion from
other motions to transfer regularly addressed by this Court.
Defendant is charged with two counts of PFDCF. According to
11 Del. C. § 1447A(f): "Every person
charged [with PFDCF] over the age of 15 years shall
be tried as an adult, notwithstanding any contrary provisions
or statutes governing the Family Court or any other state
law." Therefore, as a threshold matter, given
Defendant's age of 14 at the time of the alleged
offenses, the customary jurisdictional restrictions involving
firearms charges are absent in this Motion. As such, the
parties agree that the Court has discretion, under §
1011(b), to transfer all of the charged offenses against
Defendant to Family Court.