Submitted: August 23, 2017
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr.ID. No.
VAUGHN, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
F. TRAYNOR JUSTICE.
29th day of August, 2017, upon consideration of
the briefs of the parties, it appears to the Court that:
Superior Court jury found the appellant, Anthony Abbatiello,
guilty of Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Home
Invasion, Robbery in the First Degree, four counts of
Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony,
Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, Possession of
Firearms and Ammunition by a Person Prohibited, and several
traffic offenses. Following a pre-sentence investigation, the
Superior Court sentenced Abbatiello cumulatively to
fifty-three years of Level 5 incarceration, suspended after
approximately forty-six years and six months, for decreasing
levels of probation. This is Abbatiello's direct appeal.
Abbatiello seeks reversal of his convictions on two grounds,
neither of which he raised in the Superior Court. First, he
argues that, during his trial, the State threatened-and
thereby interfered with his right to call-potential alibi
witnesses. Second, he complains that the prosecutor
improperly interjected her personal opinion and vouched for
the credibility of a witness in her closing argument. We find
no merit in these arguments and therefore affirm
trial, the State presented evidence that, on May 9, 2015, an
intruder rushed into a motel room occupied by Carla Weston,
pulled a gun, and demanded money. Weston complied and, after
also taking Weston's purse and cellphones, the intruder
fled. Weston then ran out of the room, yelling to a nearby
crowd that she had been robbed.
Weston and others pursued the robber, he turned back and
fired at least three shots in their direction. He then got
into a black Mercedes sport utility vehicle and left the
scene. Weston reported that the vehicle had a Delaware
license plate number of P/C 19805. Weston also provided a
description of the robber and his clothing that was
consistent with a motel surveillance video, which captured
the robber fleeing Weston's room with the purse and gun
and the ensuing chase in the parking lot.
Delaware State Police investigators determined that a
Delaware license plate number of P/C 198056-nearly identical
to the number provided by Weston- had been issued to a 2011
black Mercedes sport utility vehicle. The investigators later
determined that a man named Bernard Bryant had been given a
speeding ticket while driving that vehicle about
one-and-a-half hours after Weston was robbed. Phone records
showed that there was attempted contact between cellphones
linked to Abbatiello and Bryant on the night before and the
morning of the robbery.
Based on Weston's physical description of the robber and
the surveillance video, police created a photographic lineup,
which included Abbatiello. Police showed the lineup to Weston
who then identified Abbatiello as the man who robbed her.
Several days after the robbery, police went to
Abbatiello's residence to conduct a search. As the police
arrived, Abbatiello fled the residence and drove off in a
vehicle. Back at Abbatiello's residence, police collected
articles of clothing that were consistent with the clothing
worn by the man who robbed Weston.
addition to the evidence described above implicating
Abbatiello in the crime, Abbatiello's podmate in prison
testified that Abbatiello admitted to him that he had robbed
a woman at the motel. The podmate said that Abbatiello also
confessed to having a gun and firing it three times at a
pursuing male but that he planned to call alibi witnesses.
Abbatiello did in fact call two alibi witnesses, both of whom
placed Abbatiello in Philadelphia at the time of the robbery.
Abbatiello also testified that he was in Philadelphia on the
day in question.
Abbatiello first argues that the State interfered with his
right to present additional alibi witnesses by threatening a
perjury prosecution if they testified. This prosecutorial
misconduct, Abbatiello argues, violated his due-process
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and his ...