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Hubbard v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

January 23, 2018

ANEL HUBBARD, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: November 15, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 0906021444

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VAUGHN and TRAYNOR, Justices.


          Gary F. Traynor Justice

         This 23rd day of January 2018, having considered the briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) Following a six-day trial in early 2010, a Superior Court jury found Anel Hubbard guilty of one count of Attempted Murder in the First Degree, five counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, two counts of Robbery in the First Degree, one count of Carjacking in the First Degree, one count of Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, and one count of Conspiracy in the Second Degree.[1] The Superior Court declared Hubbard a habitual offender, and sentenced him to twelve life terms without the possibility of probation or parole. This Court affirmed Hubbard's convictions on direct appeal, which was limited to a challenge of the trial court's admission of a custodial statement he made to an investigating detective.[2]

         (2) The facts upon which Hubbard was charged and convicted are set forth in detail in our opinion resolving Hubbard's direct appeal.[3] For the purpose of addressing the claims Hubbard has raised in his motion for post-conviction relief, an abbreviated rendition of the facts should suffice.

         (3) Two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, "carjacked" John Walker's motorcycle at gunpoint. As one of the carjackers, later identified as Isaiah Taylor, drove away on the motorcycle, the other-eventually identified by Taylor as Hubbard-fired upon Walker and his companion, striking Walker once in the jaw, twice in the thigh, and once in the calf. A search of the residence and room where Hubbard resided uncovered a handgun that, according to a forensic firearm examiner, fired a bullet that was found at the crime scene.

          (4) Hubbard was brought to the Wilmington Police Department on the date in question where he was interviewed by Detective Leccia. Instead of invoking his right to remain silent, Hubbard began to answer Detective Leccia's questions. Initially, Hubbard denied any involvement in the shooting and related a fictitious story about his whereabouts the previous night. But as the interrogation progressed, Hubbard admitted that he was present at the scene of the crime and that he had given the gun to Taylor, who shot Walker. Near the conclusion of the interview, Hubbard made additional incriminating statements that could be interpreted as admissions that he was the shooter. For instance, when Detective Leccia told Hubbard that a surveillance video would reveal the truth of what happened, Hubbard replied: "Yeah but my face is covered so if my face was covered how would y'all know it was me."[4] Shortly thereafter, when Leccia suggested that Hubbard might have reacted to the victim "grabbing for something, " or possibly "pull[ing] a knife, " Hubbard replied: "I don't know what he was getting, " and conceded, "I f ed up[.] I ain't mean for it to go down like that."[5]

         (5) Following the affirmance of his convictions on direct appeal, Hubbard filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief, advancing several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and a cumulative-due-process claim, and requesting an evidentiary hearing.[6]

         (6) On appeal, Hubbard claims that the Superior Court erred by (i) finding that his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims were procedurally barred, (ii) declining to find that his lawyer was ineffective for failing to request a cautionary accomplice-testimony instruction commonly referred to as a Bland instruction, [7] (iii) basing its rejection of his other ineffective-assistance claims (for failure to move to suppress an out-of-court identification and prison phone calls) upon an inadequate record, i.e., without an evidentiary hearing, and (iv) denying his cumulative-due-process claim. We address each in turn.

         (7) We review questions of law and claims alleging constitutional violations de novo.[8] We review the Superior Court's denial of a request to hold an evidentiary hearing for an abuse of discretion.[9] We will uphold the Superior Court's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous and unsupported by the record.[10]

         (8) Hubbard first claims that the trial court erred to the extent that it relied upon Superior Court Rule of Criminal Procedure 61(i)(3) to bar Appellant's post- conviction claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.[11] It is undisputed that the 2005 version of Rule 61 is applicable to Hubbard's motion. We conclude, and the State concedes, that these claims are not barred by Superior Court Rule of Criminal Procedure 61(i)(3) "to the extent that they were raised in the context of ineffective assistance of counsel claims."[12]

         (9) Hubbard next claims that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a Bland instruction, cautioning the jury to examine the testimony of Hubbard's alleged accomplice with suspicion. Though the instruction given to Hubbard's jury was not fully in accord with Bland, Hubbard cannot show that, had the Superior Court issued a Bland instruction, "there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of the case would have been different."[13] Indeed, the record contains ample evidence other than Taylor's testimony that pointed to Hubbard's guilt, including Hubbard's incriminating ...

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