Submitted: November 17, 2017
Defendant's Amended First Motion for Postconviction
G. Schmidhauser, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover,
Delaware; attorney for the State.
J. Pickle, pro se
Kathleen K. Amalfitano, Esquire, Office of the Public
Defender, Dover, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.
WILLIAM L. WITHAM, JR. RESIDENT JUDGE.
the Court is an Amended First Motion for Postconviction
Relief filed by Defendant Robert J. Pickle on his own behalf.
The Court has also considered the Affidavit of Defense
Counsel's Reply Brief, the State's Response to
Defendant's Motion for Post-Conviction Relief, and
Defendant's Reply Brief to the State's Response. The
Court has also considered the arguments of Mr. Pickle and his
defense counsel, Kathleen Amalfitano, at a hearing held on
this motion on November 17, 2017. After careful consideration
of the above, the Court concludes that Mr. Pickle's
Amended First Motion for Postconviction Relief must be
Pickle was convicted of five counts of Rape in the Third
Degree. During the seven-month span of the offenses to which
he pled guilty, Mr. Pickle was forty-five years old and his
young male victim was initially fourteen years old. The
victim turned fifteen during the course of the crimes. Mr.
Pickle was first indicted by a grand jury on twenty-six
counts of Rape in the Third Degree, one count of Endangering
the Welfare of a Child, and one count of Providing Alcohol to
an Underage Person.
to the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant, Mr. Pickle
and the victim's relationship began when the victim
downloaded a social networking app for persons seeking
same-sex relationships. The two began to chat and text with
each other and soon thereafter, according to the
officer's affidavit, the victim would sneak out of his
home on foot to meet Mr. Pickle, who would drive him to his
own home in Harrington, Delaware or to Slaughter Beach,
Delaware. The relationship between the two began in February
2013 and lasted until September 2013, during which time they
would engage in oral or anal sex at least weekly and, on
other occasions, masturbate. According to the affidavit, Mr.
Pickle admitted to police that he had oral and anal sex with
the victim several times but could not recall how many times
it had occurred.
Pickle eventually pleaded guilty to five counts of Rape in
the Third Degree as part of a plea agreement with the State.
In the Plea Agreement, Mr. Pickle pleaded guilty to each of
the charges and accepted a sentencing recommendation of
twenty-five years for each count, suspended after five years
at Level V for each count, followed by six months at Level IV
home confinement for the first count, followed by two years
at Level III for each count. The State agreed to enter a
nolle prosequi for the remaining charges. Both Mr.
Pickle and his attorney signed the plea agreement form.
Pickle also completed a Truth-in-Sentencing form. The form
indicated that he had never been a patient in a mental
hospital, had completed college, was not under the influence
of alcohol or drugs at the time, was entering into the plea
freely and voluntarily, had not been promised anything
outside of the written agreement, and had not been threatened
or forced to enter the plea by anyone, including his lawyer.
The form indicated that he was satisfied with his
lawyer's representation and that his lawyer had fully
advised him of his rights and discussed the sex offender
registration requirements. Both Mr. Pickle and his attorney
signed the Truth-in-Sentencing form.
plea hearing on April 2, 2014, Mr. Pickle was sworn and the
Court engaged him in a colloquy. The Court reminded him of
the trial rights he was giving up, and then proceeded to ask
THE COURT: ... I have in front of me several documents.
They're called the plea agreement and truth-in-sentencing
forms. Do you have these documents in front of you as well?
THE DEFENDANT: That's correct, sir.
THE COURT: Thank you. Did you sign both documents?
THE DEFENDANT: That is correct, sir, I did.
THE COURT: Have you reviewed both documents with your
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
Court then discussed the potential penalties with Mr. Pickle
and made sure that he understood them.
THE COURT: The truth-in-sentencing guilty plea form itself
requires you to check off the appropriate yes and no blocks
as they correspond to questions asked of you on the page. You
are to carefully review these questions with your attorney,
your attorney should answer any question you may have about
the questions and then each block should be checked off
correctly. Did you have your attorney check the blocks off
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I did.
THE COURT: Did you instruct her accordingly and you reviewed
this to make sure she checked off each block correctly?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir, I did.
THE COURT: Very well. Likewise, you should also read and
understand that you will be waiving some very important
rights which are covered in Paragraphs 1 through 7. These
rights are called your Constitutional Rights or trial rights.
understand you waive these rights?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Has anyone forced or threatened you to enter this
THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.
THE COURT: Are you in fact guilty of these five separate