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State v. Tilghman

Superior Court of Delaware

October 12, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
FLETCHER E. TILGHMAN

         In and for Kent County RK15-02-0051-01 Rape 2nd (F)

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         Upon Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61

          Denise Weeks-Tappan, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, for the State of Delaware.

          Fletcher E. Tilghman, Pro se.

          Andrea M. Freud Commissioner.

         The defendant, Fletcher E. Tilghman ("Tilghman"), pled nolo contendre the day of his trial, October 5, 2015 to one count of Rape in the Second Degree, 11 Del. C. § 772. He was also facing six additional counts of Rape in the Second Degree, one count of a sex offender having Unlawful Sexual Contact Against a Child and two counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact in the Second Degree. Had he gone to trial and been convicted as charged he faced 175 years and 70 years minimum mandatory on the seven counts of Rape in the Second Degree. In exchange for his plea the State entered nolle prosequis on the additional charges. The parties recommended that Fletcher be sentenced to twenty-five years, suspended after ten years minimum mandatory for probation. The Court agreed with the recommended sentence and immediately sentenced Tilghman accordingly.

         Tilghman did not appeal his conviction or sentence to the Delaware Supreme Court. On January 13, 2016 he filed his first motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61. Then on April 22, 2016, he filed an amended motion.

         FACTS

         The charges stem from Fletcher's repeated sexual intercourse with the fourteen year-old niece of Fletcher's girlfriend. The abuse came to light when Fletcher's girlfriend, Brook Willey, walked into her living room one evening and saw Fletcher having intercourse with the victim, her fourteen year-old niece. The victim was taken to be interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center where she detailed the lengthy extent of Fletcher's repeated sexual abuse. Tilghman was a registered sex offender at the time of this incident.

         TILGHMAN'S CONTENTIONS

         In his original motion, he raises the following grounds for relief:

Ground one: Sixth Amendment.
Superior Court violated defendant's right to due process guaranteed by the United States and Delaware Constitution when it failed to answer defendant's Motion to Withdrawl (sic) Counsel and to inquire sufficiently and timely into the actual conflict of interest and/or irreconcilable conflict that existed between defendant and counsel.
Ground two: Coerced into taking a Guilty Plea.
Attorney Suzanne Macpherson-Johnson coerced defendant into guilty plea stating that she couldn't win a favorable outcome and that State would file for habitual offender and I would be given a life term and that being as though this is Kent County and with Judge Witham being my presiding judge it's a guaranteed guilty verdict, even though I've always claim (sic) my innocence pertaining to this case.
Ground Three: Suppression of Favorable Evidence.
Counsel failed to give defendant copies of tangible objects, documents, test and any reports of examination on advice ...

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