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State v. Williams

Superior Court of Delaware

August 22, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
DENNIS WILLIAMS, Defendant.

          Date Submitted: June 26, 2017

         Upon Dennis Williams' Motion for Postconviction Relief DENIED

          Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge

         Upon consideration of the motion for postconviction relief counsel filed by Defendant Dennis Williams; Rule 61 of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure ("Rule 61"); the facts, arguments and legal authorities set forth in Defendant's motion and the State's response in opposition thereto; Trial Counsel's affidavit; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court finds as follows:

         1. This case was tried to a jury October 21-23, 2014. Defendant was represented by counsel at trial ("Trial Counsel").

         2. Defendant stipulated that he was a person prohibited.

         3. On October 23, 2014, following the three-day jury trial, the jury found Defendant guilty of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP") and Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited ("PABPP"). Defendant was found not guilty of Reckless Endangering First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Felony.

         4. Trial Counsel moved for a judgment of acquittal, contending that the verdicts were inconsistent. The State opposed Defendant's motion. The Court denied the motion for judgment of acquittal on the grounds that the verdicts were not inconsistent because the crimes on which Defendant was acquitted required the State to establish different factual elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the State had to prove that Defendant actually discharged the firearm rather than merely possessing it. In addition, there was direct evidence of the crimes alleging possession of a firearm while there was only circumstantial evidence that Defendant actually discharged the weapon.

         5. By Order dated March 13, 2015, effective February 22, 2014, Defendant was sentenced.

         6. On March 30, 2015, Defendant filed a timely appeal of his conviction and sentence with the Delaware Supreme Court, which affirmed this Court's ruling by Order dated December 4, 2015.[1]

         7. On April 11, 2016, Defendant filed a timely motion for postconviction relief and a motion for appointment of postconviction relief counsel pursuant to Rule 61 as a self-represented litigant.

          8. Rule 61(e) governs the appointment of counsel in postconviction proceedings. Upon a defendant's timely request, the Court shall appoint counsel for an indigent movant's first motion for postconviction relief if the motion seeks to set aside "a judgment of conviction after a trial that has been affirmed by final order upon direct appellate review and is for a crime designated as a class A, B, or C felony under U Del. C. § 4205(b)."[2]

         9. Pursuant to 11 Del. C. § 1448(c), PFBPP is a class C Felony if the defendant has been previously convicted of a violent felony. Defendant qualified for increased sentencing under § 1448(e)(1) because of Defendant's status as a prohibited person and his previous conviction of a violent felony.[3] Accordingly, Defendant's 2014 jury conviction of PFBPP, from which he seeks postconviction relief, is a class C felony and Defendant is entitled to appointment of counsel to pursue his first motion for postconviction relief. Accordingly, Counsel was appointed to represent Defendant on his motion for post-conviction relief ("Rule 61 Counsel").

          10. Rule 61 Counsel has filed an Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief ("PCR Motion") alleging ineffective assistance of Trial Counsel on two grounds: (i) failure to request a mistrial after a State's witness "narrated" a video of the crime scene and ...


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