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State v. Salasky

Superior Court of Delaware

December 5, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID A. SALASKY, Defendant.

          Submitted: October 18, 2017

          Joseph Grubb, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State of Delaware.

          David A. Salasky, pro se.

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED

          Katharine L. Mayer Commissioner.

         This 5th day of December, 2017, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief and the record in this matter, the following is my Report and Recommendation.

         BACKGROUND, FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On December 5, 2011, Defendant was indicted on twenty-four felony charges relating to certain events that culminated in the murder of a New Castle County police officer. The case was specially assigned and intensely scrutinized by the court, the State of Delaware and appointed counsel for Defendant. At the time of the incident, Defendant was on probation for other felony convictions as well. Defense counsel moved for a proof positive hearing and the court eventually held that there was sufficient evidence supporting two of the Murder First Degree charges for Defendant to be held without bail.[1] Extensive discovery was exchanged, numerous motions were filed, and Defendant underwent a psychiatric/psychological evaluation. Defendant eventually plead guilty but mentally ill to 15 criminal charges.[2] After consideration of the psychological reports, the Court issued findings that Defendant was competent to enter a plea and that the plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily.[3] On January 17, 2014, Defendant was sentenced to two life sentences, plus 157 years.[4] Defendant did not appeal his conviction. On October 16, 2017, Defendant filed a. pro se Motion for Post conviction Relief.[5]

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         Pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(d)(5) the Motion may be summarily dismissed because it plainly appears from the record in the case that the motion is procedurally barred and movant is not entitled to relief. As such, the Court should not consider the merits of the claims.[6]

         As an initial matter, Defendant's Motion is barred by Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(i)(1) for having been filed more than one year after the judgment of conviction became final. Defendant's judgment of conviction became final on February 16, 2014.[7] This Motion, having been filed more than 31/2 years later, is untimely.

         Further, pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(i)(3) and (4), any ground for relief that was not previously raised is deemed waived, and any claims that were formerly adjudicated, whether in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a postconviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, are thereafter barred.

         Defendant first claims that he was held "in cognito" by New Castle County Police for questioning at Christiana Care before being charged with crimes. It is difficult to discern the legal basis of Defendant's claim, however what is clear is that this claim was waived when Defendant plead guilty and/or is procedurally defaulted because Defendant failed to raise it in the original proceedings.

         Defendant next presents several allegations of illegal searches and seizures by claiming his mother's house was raided, his truck impounded, his father's ashes impounded, and his girlfriend's property taken on "trumped up charges." Each of these issues was addressed by the Court's Opinion[8] denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress Searches. These claims were previously adjudicated and are now barred.

         Defendant also argues that he gave a confession under a drug induced state. The Opinion addressed the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements, noted the State withdrew its opposition to the motion, and granted it in part. Like the previous issue, this matter was already adjudicated, in this instance favorably to Defendant, and will not now be reconsidered.

         To the extent Defendant argues his plea was given while under the influence of pharmaceutical drugs, this is not untrue, but it does not afford Defendant relief. Defendant's use and need for mental health medication was well known to the parties and the Court and in fact, was a basis for his guilty but mentally ill defense.

         A defendant's statements to the Court during the guilty plea colloquy are presumed to be truthful and Defendant is bound by his statements to the Court.[9] At the Plea Hearing, the Truth-in-Sentencing Form and Plea Agreement were presented to the Court and acknowledged by Defendant. Trial Counsel notified the Court that Defendant was under the influence of prescribed medications but that he had been given the appropriate amounts, at the appropriate time, with the desired effect. Trial counsel believed Defendant was thinking clearly and understood the proceedings. The Court then addressed Defendant and asked about the prescribed medication. Defendant acknowledged that the medication kept him from having adverse symptoms and that he was not under the influence of any other drugs or alcohol. The Court's colloquy with Defendant was thorough and addressed each of the charges, as well as all rights that were being waived through Defendant's plea of guilty but mentally ill. Defendant stated no one made any threats or forced him in any way to enter into the agreement and he was satisfied with his counsel's representation. After a detailed review of the charges, plea and sentence, the Court found that based upon the colloquy with Defendant, the plea was knowledgeable, voluntary and based in fact. Further, the Court's GBMI Order specifically states:

The Court, based upon its observations of the Defendant at the time of the plea, his responsiveness to the Court's questions, and counsels' representations regarding their ability to communicate with the Defendant regarding the consequences of entering a pea, and finding nothing contrary in the expert reports provided, finds that the Defendant was competent to enter a plea and the ...

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