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State v. Reza-Ayala

Superior Court of Delaware

October 19, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
JORGE REZA-AYALA, JOSHUA SCRUGGS, KALEEF SMYRE, BRANDON KASINATH, CARLOS HERNANDEZ, JORGE HERNANDEZ, Defendants.

          RESTITUTION OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter involved a March 22, 2015 shooting of a vehicle and its occupants at Rogers Manor Park in the Rogers Manor Neighborhood in New Castle County, Delaware. The above referenced six defendants conspired to rob the occupants of the vehicle. In carrying out their conspiracy, two occupants of the vehicle, and the vehicle itself, were shot.

         Jose Louis Padilla-Gonzales, the driver of the vehicle, suffered gunshot wounds to his left shoulder and arm. He had an open wound that was about the size of a baseball.

         Miguel Escober, the front seat passenger, was shot in the face and sustained massive injuries to the entire right side of his face and head. Both of the victims were transported to Christiana Hospital Emergency Room for medical care. Miguel Escober was immediately taken to surgery to remove a gunshot pellet from the right side of his brain. He sustained numerous gunshot pellets in his face, head and stomach area. He lost his right eye as a result of the shooting.

         All of the Defendants were charged with attempted murder (the shooting of Miguel Escobar), assault first degree (the shooting of Jose Padilla-Gonzalez), robbery, conspiracy and a number of related crimes arising out of the incident.

         All of the Defendants were convicted of conspiracy. Five of the six defendants also pled guilty to robbery. The sixth defendant, Kaleef Smyre, whose charges were bifurcated for trial, was convicted at trial for conspiracy and criminal mischief and pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

         At sentencing, each of the Defendants was ordered to pay restitution. The restitution award was ordered to be joint and several as to each of the Defendants.

         Restitution Proceedings

         The State submitted a restitution report, with supporting documentation, initially seeking a restitution award in the total amount of $170, 988.05, which was subsequently supplemented to reflect continuing expenses incurred by the victims or on their behalf.

         The restitution requested by the State represented outstanding medical expenses owed to Christiana Care for medical services rendered to Mr. Escobar; outstanding medical expenses owed to Christiana Care for medical services rendered to Mr. Padilla-Gonzales; out of pocket losses suffered by Mr. Padilla-Gonzales; amounts paid by the Victims' Compensation Assistance Program ("VCAP") on behalf of Mr. Padilla-Gonzales; the balance of monies owed to Westside Health; and the balance of the monies owed to Cheswold Fire Company.

         Only one defendant, Joshua Scruggs, opposed a few of the requests for restitution. The other Defendants adopted and joined Defendant Scruggs' opposition as to those few requests. The opposed requests included the restitution sought on behalf of Christiana Care for the victims' medical expenses, and the restitution sought by the VCAP for the payments made to Mr. Padilla-Gonzalez or on his behalf. The remaining requests, for Mr. Padilla-Gonzalez's out of pocket losses, and for monies owed to Westside Health and Cheswold Fire Co., were unopposed by all defendants.

         A restitution hearing was held on May 2, 2017 to address the opposed requests for restitution. At the hearing, the Court ruled on all the restitution requests except for one, the outstanding medical bills owed to Christiana Care for the medical services provided to Mr. Padilla-Gonzalez.

         Following the restitution hearing, the Court ordered supplemental submissions from the parties on the remaining outstanding issue. Supplemental submissions, with additional supporting documentation, was provided as requested by Court.

         Restitution

         As a preliminary matter, at a restitution hearing, it is the State's burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence what amounts are owed to the victim.[1] The Court has broad discretion to determine whether restitution is appropriate, in determining the information upon which it will rely, and in crafting an award tailored to the circumstances of each individual case.[2]The Court may consider the victim loss statement and other evidence at the restitution hearing in crafting an award.[3] The Court has broad authority to order the Defendants to pay restitution for the victim's medical expenses.[4]

         Where the amount of restitution is geared directly to the amount of the victim's loss caused by the Defendants' criminal activity, proportionality is already built into the order. In this matter, by shooting their victims, the defendants have essentially determined their restitution obligation.[5]The restitution awarded herein is based directly on the actual losses caused to the victims by the Defendants' criminal conduct. The defendants conspired to rob, and in carrying out that robbery shot the two victims causing serious injuries to both men. The Defendants are responsible for the medical expenses incurred by their victims as a result of the shooting, for the victims' out of pocket expenses, and for the payments made by the VCAP on the victims' behalf.

         Upon careful consideration of the record, the testimony of the witnesses, the supporting documentation and the arguments of the parties, restitution is hereby awarded as follows:

         1) Out of Pocket Losses Incurred by Jose Padilla-Gonzalez $23, 177.00

         This restitution request represents the direct out of pocket losses incurred by Mr. Padilla-Gonzalez. It represents lost wages and some damages Mr. Gonzalez incurred that the VCAP did not pay in full. This request was not opposed by any defendant. This request is awarded as unopposed.

         2) Westsidc Health $59.00

         Initially, the State requested $127.00, but later reduced the request to $59.00. At first, Defendant Scruggs opposed this request but later withdrew his opposition. Accordingly, this request is awarded as unopposed.

         3) Cheswold Fire Co. $110.00

         Initially, Defendant Scruggs opposed this request but later withdrew his opposition. Accordingly, this request is awarded as unopposed.

         4) Victims' Compensation Assistance Program ...


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