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State v. Harris

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

November 30, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
JAQUAN L. HARRIS, Defendant.

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

         RK15-02-0485-01 Rape 4th (F), RK15-02-0486-01 Consp 2nd (F)

          Kathleen A. Dickerson, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, for the State of Delaware.

          Edward C. Gill, Esquire, Georgetown, Delaware for Defendant.

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea M Freud, Commissioner

         The Defendant, Jaquan L. Harris ("Harris") pled guilty on September 16, 2015 to one count of Rape in the Fourth Degree, a lesser-included offense of Rape in the Second Degree Without Consent, 11 Del. C. § 770 and one count of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, 11 Del. C. § 512. The parties requested a pre-sentence report. On November 10, 2015 the Court sentenced Harris to eleven total years at Level V incarceration, suspended after serving nine months at Level V, followed by six months at Level IV, followed by one year at Level III probation. Harris is currently scheduled to complete his probation period on December 5, 2017. Had Harris gone to trial and been found guilty of each of the charges, he faced a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years in jail up to a potential of twenty-seven years incarceration. Harris did not appeal his conviction or sentence to the State Supreme Court. On January 11, 2016, Harris filed his first pro se Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. A briefing schedule was set on Harris' pro se motion and prior counsel and the State responded to Harris' allegations. Prior to Harris filing his Reply, Edward C. Gill, Esquire entered his appearance on behalf of Harris on March 9, 2017 and requested additional time to file an amended postconviction motion on Harris' behalf. The request was granted and a new briefing schedule was issued. Briefing has now completed and the matter is ripe for decision.

         FACTS

         The following is a summary of the facts of the case as outlined by the State in their response to Harris' amended motion for postconviction relief and corroborated by the Search warrant and arrest warrant's Affidavit of Probable Cause.

On October 25, 2014, Alyssa Stanley ("Victim") sought medical treatment at Union Hospital in Elkton, Maryland after a sexual assault. A forensic nurse at the hospital examined the Victim and completed an evidence collection kit. Detective Fox of the Smyrna Police Department responded to the hospital and interviewed the Victim. She informed Detective Fox that she had been in a relationship with Harris and that she had plans to meet him at his house earlier that day. She told the detective that she arrived at Harris' after midnight and went to his bedroom with him. She recounted that she and Harris had sexual intercourse once. Later they started to have sex a second time but Harris stopped in the middle of (sic) and told her that he needed to get a condom. Victim, who was facing the wall, waited in the dark bedroom for Harris' return. Someone, who she presumed to Harris, re-entered the room and intercourse resumed. A condom broke and the male having intercourse with Victim remarked that he would "get another condom." Victim, realizing that she did not recognize the voice, discovered that the male she was having sex with was not Harris. Victim became upset, screamed, struck the unknown male, got dressed and left the house.
Based on the information provided by the Victim, officers with the Smyrna Police Department obtained a search warrant for Harris' residence.[1] Two empty condom packets and bedding were seized. When the officers executed the search warrant, Harris answered the door and Victim's identification card was seized from his pocket. Harris was transported to Smyrna Police Department and provided a post-Miranda statement. During this statement Harris admitted that he had sexual intercourse with Victim and then sent his friend Kevaughn Peacock into the room with instructions to pretend to be Harris so he could have sex with Victim. Arrest warrants were obtained for Harris on February 10, 2015.[2]

         Harris' CONTENTIONS

         In his original, pro se motion Harris raised the following grounds for relief:

Ground one: Not informed of his right to counsel while being questioned by the police.
Ground two: A Fourth Amendment violation occurred when police "left behind" a live surveillance device.
Ground three: Coerced Guilty Plea.
Ground four: Ineffective assistance of counsel for not raising grounds 1-3 earlier.

         In the amended motion filed by Mr. Gill an additional ground was raised as follows:

Ground five: That Harris was illegally arrested on October 25, 2014 without a warrant and therefore trial counsel should have filed a motion to suppress Harris' statement to the police and his failure to file a suppression ...

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