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State v. Rowan

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

November 21, 2017

BRUCE A. ROWAN, Defendant.

         Cont Sex Abuse (F) (1 count) Rape 4th < 18(F) (5 counts) Breach Conditions (F) (56 counts)


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

          Stephen R. Welch, Jr., Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, for the State of Delaware.

          Bruce A. Rowan, Pro se.

          Andrea M. Freud, Commissioner

         The defendant, Bruce A. Rowan ("Rowan") was found guilty, following a jury trial on December 6, 2010, of one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, 11 Del. C. § 778; five counts of Rape in the Fourth Degree, 11 Del. C. § 770; and fifty-six counts of Breach of Conditions, 11 Del. C. § 2109. He was found not guilty of eleven additional counts of Rape in the Fourth Degree and eight counts of Tampering with a Witness. Prior to trial the State dismissed one count of Sex Offender Unlawful Sexual Contact Against a Child, one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and three counts of Tampering with a Witness. Nolle prosequis were entered on the remaining eleven counts of Tampering with a Witness and thirteen counts of Breach of Conditions of Release. On January 19, 2011 the State filed a motion to declare Rowan an habitual offender. The Court granted the motion on January 27, 2011 and sentenced Rowan to a total of 395 years incarceration suspended after serving 120 years, for probation.

         A timely Notice of Appeal was filed with the Delaware Supreme Court by Rowan's initial Appellate Counsel, Bernard J. O'Donnell, Esquire along with a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 26(c). In an Order dated October 19, 2011, the Supreme Court granted Mr. O'Donnell's motion to withdraw but simultaneously appointed Alexander W. Funk, Esquire to represent Rowan in his direct appeal.[1] In the appeal the following claims were raised that the Superior Court erred in: (1) denying Rowan's motion to dismiss; (2) admitting in to evidence tape recordings of his telephone calls from prison to the victim and (3) admitting into evidence bond paperwork from the Justice of the Peace Court. The Delaware Supreme Court found no merit in any of the claims and affirmed Rowan's conviction and sentence on May 18, 2012.[2]

         After attempting to file several nonconforming motions for postconviction relief and motions for appointment of counsel, Rowan finally filed a conforming motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 along with a memorandum of law on May 15, 2013, pro se. He raised nine grounds for relief including ineffective assistance of counsel. On May 28, 2013 Rowan filed a conforming motion for appointment of counsel which was granted by the Court. Natalie S. Woloshin, Esquire ("Appointed Counsel") was appointed to represent Rowan on July 29, 2015. After an extremely thorough and conscientious review of the facts, the record and the law in the case, Appointed Counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel having concluded that the motion was wholly without merit and that no meritorious grounds for relief existed. Rowan was sent a copy of the motion to withdraw and given 30 days to file a response. Appointed Counsel's motion to withdraw was granted by the Court on October 27, 2015.

         Next Rowan moved to have a substitute counsel appointed which was denied by the Court on November 19, 2015. Next Rowan moved to amend his pro se motion for postconviction relief on August 11, 2016. After several revised brief schedules the matter finally completed briefing and was sent for decision.


         Following are the facts as set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court:

2) In January 2009, when Rowan was 41 years old, he began a sexual relationship with Jane Carson, FN1 who told Rowan she was 23, but actually was 16 years old. In April 2009 Carson became pregnant with Rowan's child and Rowan moved in with her. Shortly after becoming pregnant, Carson told Rowan her real age. Rowan moved out and began a relationship with another woman. Carson then contacted the police. After the baby was born, a DNA test confirmed that Rowan is the father.
3) On October 30, 2009, Rowan was arrested an arraigned at the police station via video phone connection with the Justice of the Peace Court. The court faxed Rowan a bond form, which he signed, that included an order prohibiting contact between Rowan and Carson. Rowan was incarcerated in default of $201, 000 cash bail. He was indicted on December 7, 2009, and the Superior Court issued a summons ordering Rowan to be present at his arraignment on December 17, 2009. Rowan's counsel was not available on that date, and the arraignment was passed to the initial case review on December 28, 2009.
4) On December 22, 2009, Rowan was released from prison based on a disposition form submitted by the Court of Common Pleas - apparently in error. At the December 28 arraignment and case review, bond was set at $270, 000 cash. Rowan was unable to post bond and again was incarcerated. Neither the court nor the State address the no-contact order.
5)Rowan was re-indicted on September 7, 2010. The 56 counts of breach of condition of release related to Rowan's telephone contact with Carson from prison after his arraignment on December 28th. He went to trial in December 2010 and was convicted on all of the breach of condition charges.[3] mi This Court sua sponte has assigned a pseudonym pursuant to Supr. Ct. R. 7(d).


         In his amended motion, Rowan raises the following grounds for relief:

Ground one: Defense attorney's failures to act within a reasonable scope of his professional duties violated Defendant's right to effective assistance of counsel. U.S.C.A 6 and 14.
Ground two: Defense Counsel failed to secure a copy of plea offer in writing or properly discuss same in regards to submission possible alternatives in conjunction with plea. U.S. Const. Amend 6 and 14.
Ground three: Trial Court error; Prosecutorial Misconduct; Ineffective Assistance of Counsel occurred when juvenile statements was never 'evaluated' and improperly admitted. U.S. Const. Amend. 6 and 14.
Ground four: In-court identification of Defendant by State's witness violated Defendant's right to a fair trial, when there was no 'independent origin' for this 'In-court' identification. U.S. Const. Amend. 6 and 14.
Ground five: Trial Court error; Ineffective Assistance of Counsel for failure to object to introduction of prior bad acts, or request a hearing (404) under DeShields v. State. Del. Supr. 706 A.2d 502.
Ground six: Trial Court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Breach of Conditions ...

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