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Wilkerson v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

November 13, 2017

QUENTIN A. WILKERSON, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: September 25, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 1306023969 (S)

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and TRAYNOR, Justices.


          Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice.

         This 13th day of November 2017, upon consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the appellee's motion to affirm, and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Quentin A. Wilkerson, filed this appeal from a Superior Court order denying his motion for sentence modification under Superior Court Criminal Rule 35(b). The State of Delaware has filed a motion to affirm the judgment below on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Wilkerson's opening brief that his appeal is without merit. We agree and affirm.

         (2) The record reflects that, on April 29, 2014, Wilkerson pled guilty to one count of Dealing in Child Pornography and two counts of Possession of Child Pornography. Wilkerson was sentenced as follows: (i) for Dealing in Child Pornography, twenty-five years of Level V incarceration, suspended after three years and six months for decreasing levels of supervision; and (ii) for each count of Possession of Child Pornography, three years of Level V incarceration, suspended for three years of Level III probation. The Level III probation was to run consecutively. Wilkerson was also prohibited from having any contact with any minor children, except for his own children, and from owning or possessing any electronic equipment that could access the internet. Wilkerson did not appeal the Superior Court's judgment. This Court affirmed the Superior Court's denial of Wilkerson's first motion for postconviction relief.[1]

         (3) On May 22, 2017, Wilkerson filed a motion for modification of sentence. Wilkerson sought modification of the no contact with minors (except his children) condition to no unlawful contact with minors so he could attend his children's school functions and his nieces and nephews could visit his parents' house where he lives. He also sought modification to have internet access and a cellphone with internet capability and a camera because internet access and a cell phone were necessary for reestablishment of his transportation business and he could not find a cell phone without a camera.

         (4) In an order dated June 27, 2017, the Superior Court denied Wilkerson's motion, and held that Wilkerson's application was subject to the limitation set forth in Rule 35(b) for sentence reduction motions filed more than ninety days after imposition of sentence. When the ninety-day limitation in Rule 35(b) applies, the Superior Court will only consider a motion for sentence reduction in extraordinary circumstances or under 11 Del. C. § 4217. The Superior Court found Wilkerson's sentence remained reasonable and appropriate given the nature of his offenses. The Superior Court then found there were no extraordinary circumstances to support consideration of Wilkerson's motion, which was filed more than ninety days after the imposition of his sentence. The Superior Court noted that Probation and Parole confirmed Wilkerson could use computers at the Department of Labor to apply for employment. This appeal followed.

         (5) We review the Superior Court's grant or denial of a motion for modification of sentence for abuse of discretion.[2] Under this highly deferential standard, " the test is whether "the trial court acted within a zone of reasonableness or stayed within a 'range of choice.'"[3] As the State recognizes in its motion to affirm, Wilkerson's motion was not subject to the ninety-day limitation in Superior Court Criminal Rule 35(b), which applies to motions for reduction of sentences of imprisonment.[4] Wilkerson was on probation, and not seeking to reduce a term of imprisonment. The Superior Court "may . . . reduce the fine or term or conditions of partial confinement or probation, at any time."[5]

         (6) In his opening brief, Wilkerson argues for the first time that his Level IV Home Confinement interferes with employment he obtained after he filed his first motion for modification of sentence, he needs internet access for his new employment, and the internet restrictions violate his First Amendment rights under Packingham v. North Carolina.[6] Wilkerson did not make these arguments in the Superior Court. We will not consider them for the first time on appeal.[7] To the extent Wilkerson does not raise claims he made in the Superior Court, he has waived those claims.[8]

         (7) Although the Superior Court mistakenly applied the ninety-day limitation to Wilkerson's motion to modify the terms of his probation, we nonetheless affirm the Superior Court's denial of Wilkerson's motion.[9] In denying Wilkerson's motion, the Superior Court noted that it had reviewed Wilkerson's presentence report and considered the nature of his crimes before imposing the original sentence. The Superior Court concluded the sentence remained appropriate in light of the nature of the offenses. Given the nature of Wilkerson's crimes (use of the internet to obtain and view child pornography) and the arguments in his motion, the Superior Court did not act unreasonably in denying Wilkerson's motion to modify his sentence.[10]

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to affirm is GRANTED and the judgment ...

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