Submitted: September 1, 2017
Downs, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.
Phillips, Howard R. Young Correctional Institute, Wilmington,
Delaware, pro se.
COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE
Katharine L. Mayer Commissioner
5th day of October, 2017, upon consideration of
Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief and the
record in this matter, the following is my Report and
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Defendant was originally indicted (and then re-indicted) on
twenty-four (24) charges including numerous felony offenses.
Defendant eventually pled guilty on February 10, 2015, to
Assault First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the
Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF") and Gang
Participation, and as part of the plea agreement, all other
charges were dismissed. The plea related to a 2009 incident
whereby Defendant threw a knife at one victim and then shot
another in the stomach. The Plea Agreement was signed by
Defendant, and his counsel, and indicated that the
recommendation/agreement was "Open sentencing."
Defendant also executed a Truth in Sentencing Guilty Plea
Form that informed him of the rights he was waiving, the
range of penalties, including the minimum and maximum
penalty, as well as other conditions. Defendant acknowledged
that the total maximum penalty could be 53 years of
incarceration with a minimum mandatory term of 5 years at
November 13, 2015, Defendant was sentenced as follows: (i)
for the Assault First Degree conviction, Defendant was
sentenced to 20 years at Level 5, suspended after 8 years for
2 years at Level 3; (ii) for the PFDCF conviction Defendant
received 5 years at Level 5; and (iii) for the Gang
Participation charge, Defendant was sentenced to 2 years at
Level 5, suspended for 1 year at Level 2.
Through the course of his case, Defendant's trial counsel
filed three motions to dismiss and Defendant independently
submitted several letters and papers with the Court that
included requests for relief such as a motion to dismiss and
a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. In addition,
Defendant, with the assistance of counsel, filed a Motion for
Reduction of Sentence.
November 9, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for Postconviction
Relief and asserted three grounds for relief: (i)
Defendant's understanding of the plea agreement was
undermined by his education and counsel's explanation and
therefore the plea was not knowing and intelligently entered
into; (ii) the sentencing judge, having presided over his
co-defendant's trial, may have been privy to evidence
incriminating Defendant which led to the judge imposing an
excessive sentence; and (iii) Defendant's plea was
coerced because he was promised that the mother of his
children would not be prosecuted for felony charges.
Before ruling on Defendant's motion, the record was
enlarged and Defendant's trial counsel was directed to
submit an Affidavit responding to Defendant's claims.
Thereafter, the State filed a response to the
motion and Defendant filed a reply
OF DEFENDANT'S RULE 61 MOTION
Prior to ruling on a motion for post-conviction relief, the
Court must first determine whether there are any procedural
bars before considering the merits of the
claims. This is Defendant's first motion under
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 and it was timely filed.
of Defendant's arguments relate to his plea and
sentencing. However, Defendant did not file a Motion to
Withdraw the Guilty Plea and his Motion for
Modification/Reduction of Sentence has already been denied by
this Court. In its decision, this Court reviewed
Defendant's plea and held that after addressing the
Defendant in open court, the Court determined that the
Defendant understood the nature of the charges, as well as
the mandatory minimum and ...