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Jackson v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

February 16, 2018

RONALD JACKSON, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: December 22, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID Nos. 1602015453A&B (N)

          Before VAUGHN, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.


          Collins J. Seitz, Jr. Justice.

         This 16th day of February 2018, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Ronald B. Jackson, filed this appeal from his convictions after a jury trial and a bench trial.[1] We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the Superior Court's judgment.

         (2) On November 17, 2016, a Superior Court jury found Jackson guilty of Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Aggravated Menacing, Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"), Criminal Mischief, Resisting Arrest, and Criminal Impersonation. In a bench trial, the Superior Court found Jackson guilty of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP") and Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited ("PABPP"). These charges had been severed from the other charges that were the subject of the jury trial. After granting the State's motion to declare Jackson a habitual offender under 11 Del. C. § 4214(c), the Superior Court sentenced Jackson to sixty years of Level V incarceration, suspended after thirty-five years.

         (3) The following evidence was presented at Jackson's jury trial. On February 23, 2016 around 3 a.m., Officer James Wiggins and Officer Leonard Moses were on patrol in Wilmington. While conducting a traffic stop around Second Street and Madison Street, they heard a gunshot nearby. They drove toward West 4th Street and saw a black man in black clothing running down an alley. Officer Moses got out of the car and chased the man as Officer Wiggins drove around to try and cut the person off. Officer Wiggins left the car to explore the alley, but did not find anyone there.

         (4) Returning to 2nd Street, Officer Wiggins heard Officer Moses call that he saw the suspect. Officer Moses had not seen anyone in the alley and returned to 2nd Street where he saw the suspect standing on top of an exterior stairway to 201 North Madison Street. After Officer Moses called out to the suspect, he saw him throw a dark object over the railing. Officer Moses testified that when the object hit the ground it sounded like a gun hitting the pavement.

         (5) Officer Wiggins and Officer Moses identified Jackson as the person on the stairs. As Jackson came down the stairs, he told the officers that the person they were looking for went east on 2nd Street. They did not see anyone in that direction. Jackson resisted when the police officers tried to take him into custody. The police officers eventually subdued Jackson on the ground and placed him in the back of their patrol car. There was a black and silver gun on the ground near where Jackson was seized. Jackson gave false names and birth dates when asked to identify himself.

         (6) Another police officer, who was not wearing gloves, secured the gun. There were eight rounds of ammunition in the magazine and one round in the chamber. No fingerprints were found on the gun. The gun was not tested for DNA evidence. No gunshot residue tests were performed.

         (7) After Jackson was secured, the police officers learned there was a 911 call reporting a shooting in the apartment building at 201 North Madison Street. Officer Wiggins went to the apartment of the caller, Tyrone Roberts. Officer Wiggins saw a bullet hole in a living room window of the apartment. No discharged bullets or spent shell casings were found. A systems administrator with the Wilmington Police Department testified that ShotSpotter, an acoustic detection system company, reported a gunshot on February 23, 2016 at 201 North Madison Street.

         (8) The police took Jackson to Wilmington Hospital where he was treated for a cut he suffered during his arrest. Jackson tried to flee at the hospital. He also continued to give the police false names and birth dates.

         (9) Roberts testified that Jackson came to his apartment on February 23, 2016 after they had spent time together earlier in the day. Even though Jackson had punched him and sent him threatening text messages that day, Roberts let Jackson into the apartment. According to Roberts, Jackson threatened to kill him, pulled out a gun, and pointed the gun at his face. Jackson fired the gun, creating a hole in the window. Jackson told Roberts that could have been his life.

         (10) Roberts then went to the bathroom where he called 911 on his cell phone. Roberts testified that he did not recall if he smoked PCP that night and that he had previously been found incompetent.[2] The Superior Court denied defense counsel's motion for judgment of acquittal on the charge of Aggravated Menacing, but sua sponte dismissed the Offensive Touching charge, which was based on Jackson punching Roberts, because it was unclear if that occurred in Delaware or Pennsylvania.

         (11) Jackson testified in his own defense. Jackson testified that, on February 22, 2016, he drove Roberts to Philadelphia in exchange for gas money. After an argument, Jackson left Roberts in Philadelphia. Roberts called Jackson multiple times to demand the return of his money.

         (12) According to Jackson, he went to Roberts' apartment that night to return Roberts' money. He noticed the odor of PCP when he returned the money to Roberts. He also claimed there was a hole in Roberts' window. While in Roberts' apartment, Jackson heard a gunshot outside of the apartment. Jackson testified that Roberts acted strangely after hearing the gunshot, possibly due to a PCP reaction, and accused Jackson of trying to kill him. Jackson left Roberts' apartment.

         (13) When Jackson left the apartment building, he noticed a man running down the street. The police then stopped Jackson and asked him to come down the stairs. Jackson told the police about the running man, but the police arrested Jackson. According to Jackson, he gave false names to the police because he was confused and frightened after the police threw him onto the ground. He testified that he tried to flee the hospital because he was nervous about how the police had treated him. During his testimony, Jackson stated that he was convicted of Maintaining a Dwelling for Keeping Controlled Substances and Conspiracy in the Second Degree in 2009. At defense counsel's request, the Superior Court instructed the jury to assume that if Jackson's coat on the night of his arrest had been collected or preserved by the State, it would not have incriminated Jackson and would have tended to prove Jackson not guilty.

         (14) After the jury found Jackson guilty of Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Aggravated Menacing, Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, two counts of PFDCF, Criminal Mischief, Resisting Arrest, and Criminal Impersonation, the Superior Court held a bench trial on the PFBPP and PABPP charges. The State introduced the evidence from the jury trial. Jackson stipulated that he was a person prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition. The Superior Court found Jackson guilty of PFBPP and PABPP.

         (15) On appeal, Jackson's claims may be summarized as follows: (i) the Superior Court erred in allowing a police officer to testify that the hole in Roberts' living room window was a bullet hole and to give possible reasons for why he did not find a projectile; (ii) his confrontation rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution were violated by the State's failure to call the preparer of the ShotSpotter report as a witness; (iii) the Superior Court erred in allowing the jury to receive a photograph of Jackson's injured lip; (iv) the Superior Court erred in ...

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