Submitted: October 11, 2017
Defendant's Amended Second Motion for Postconviction
Williams, Esquire and Stephen R. Welch, Jr., Esquire of the
Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorneys for the
Herbert W. Mondros, Esquire of Margolis Edelstein,
Wilmington, Delaware and Samuel J.B. Angell, Esquire of the
Federal Community Defender Office, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; attorneys for the Defendant.
Herbert W. Mondros, Esquire, Samuel J.B. Angell, Esquire,
John Williams, Esquire, Stephen R. Welch, Jr., Esquire
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge.
the Court is the Petitioner, Ambrose L. Sykes', Amended
Second Motion for Postconviction Relief. Sykes raises a
number of grounds for relief from his 2006 conviction for
Murder in the First Degree, Rape in the First Degree, and
other related offenses, and relief from this Court's
subsequent imposition of a life sentence. The majority of
Sykes' claims for relief are based on allegations of
ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel against
Sykes' two postconviction attorneys, Patrick Collins and
Albert J. Roop, V (hereinafter, "Rule 61 Counsel").
careful consideration of the parties' filings and review
of recent Delaware precedent, the Court concludes that
Sykes' Amended Second Motion for Postconviction Relief
must be summarily DENIED pursuant to
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(d)(2).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
facts of this case have been thoroughly set forth on a
variety of occasions by this Court, as well as the Delaware
Supreme Court. The following is the statement of facts
contained in the Delaware Supreme Court's opinion on
direct appeal and its opinion affirming this Court's
denial of postconviction relief:
On November 8, 2004, sixty-eight-year-old Virginia Trimnell
was scheduled to fly from Washington, D.C. to Detroit to
visit her daughter.
When Trimnell did not arrive as scheduled, her daughter
contacted the Dover Police Department. Officer Jeffrey Gott
went to check on Trimnell. Gott testified that when he
arriv[ed] at Trimnell's apartment, it was tidy and
undisturbed and he observed no signs of forced entry. He also
testified that he saw two shopping bags sitting on the bed.
However, he could not locate Trimnell's car or purse.
At approximately 3:30 a.m. on November 10, 2004, Dover Police
Sergeant Timothy Mutter saw Trimnell's car traveling on
Kings Highway in Dover. The driver, later identified as
Sykes, got out of the vehicle, and Mutter asked him for his
license and registration. Sykes initially complied but then
fled after Mutter asked about Trimnell. The police could not
apprehend Sykes that night.
Police found Sykes' fingerprints on a shovel and a rubber
glove inside Trimnell's car. The police also found three
gas cans and women's clothing that matched what others
saw Trimnell wearing on the day she disappeared. In the trunk
of the vehicle, police found a large green suitcase with
Trimnell's name and Trimnell's purse inside a green
duffel bag. Police found TrimnelPs body stuffed into the
large green suitcase.
An autopsy indicated that Trimnell died by strangulation. A
sexual assault kit detected sperm in TrimnelPs vagina. The
autopsy did not, however, reveal any defense wounds on
Trimnell. DNA testing was conducted. Sykes' saliva
reference sample was ultimately determined to match all
sixteen loci from Trimnell's vaginal swab. Sykes' DNA
also matched the sperm located on a comforter found in
Police seized a computer during a search of Trimnell's
apartment. An examination of that computer revealed that it
had been used to access pornographic websites on November 7,
2004. Trimnell's credit cards had been used to access the
website[s]. That computer had not been previously used to
visit similar websites. Police also seized two pornographic
magazines and four computers from Sykes' mobile home.
Files on two of those computers contained "similar
images of adult pornography" to those found on
Trimnell's computer. Additionally, police found a leather
bag containing silver dollars in the home of Sykes'
girlfriend, Jenny St. Jean. Trimnell's daughter later
identified the bag as Trimnell's.
Trimnell's telephone records revealed that a cell phone
registered to Sykes made three calls to her home on the
morning of November 7, 2004. Sykes, a night shift restaurant
custodian at Dover Downs, did not work on November 7, 2004.
He quit this job on November 8, 2004 due to alleged
transportation problems. After he quit his job, Dover Downs
security cameras showed him leaving the parking lot on
November 8, 2004 in Trimnell's car.
Police arrested Sykes on November 29, 2004 and the State
later indicted him on two counts of Murder First Degree and
other felony and misdemeanor charges. The State later
re-indicted him and added two counts of Rape First
27, 2006, Sykes was convicted on all counts. He was sentenced
to death on September 20, 2006.
January 24, 2008, after a brief remand to this Court, the
Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Sykes' conviction and
sentence to death.
October 24, 2008, Sykes, represented by Rule 61 Counsel,
timely filed his First Motion for Postconviction Relief. On
October 19, 2009, Sykes filed an Amended First Motion for
Postconviction Relief in which he raised twenty-three
separate claims for relief. Beginning October 10, 2011 and
concluding on November 7, 2012, the Court held an extensive
evidentiary hearing over the course of eleven
days. Twenty-one witnesses, including trial
counsel, testified during the hearing. An additional three
witnesses, who did not testify, were deposed. And, the Court
admitted more than forty exhibits into evidence. Post hearing
briefing concluded on August 12, 2013.
January 21, 2014, the Court issued its ninety-eight page
decision denying Sykes' Amended First Motion for
Postconviction Relief. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed
the denial of relief on January 30, 2015.
January 11, 2016, Sykes filed his Second Motion for
Postconviction Relief. Sykes amended the motion on May 10,
2017, after the Court re-sentenced Sykes pursuant to the
Delaware Supreme ...