Submitted: January 26, 2018
Nos. IN95-11-1323R3 - 1325R3, IN95-12-0684R3 - O686R3,
IN95-11-1047R2 - 1049R2, IN95-12-0687R2 - O689R2.
Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Deputy Attorney General
T. Knoll, Deputy Attorney General
Christopher S. Koyste, Esquire
Ann Muhlhauser, Esquire
Herbert W. Mondros, Esquire
Claudia Van Wyk, Esquire
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO VACATE DEATH SENTENCE AND
RESENTENCE PURSUANT TO 11 DEL. C. § 4205
R. WALLACE, JUDGE
28th day of February, 2018, upon consideration of
the Defendant Michael R. Manley ("Manley") and the
Defendant David Stevenson's ("Stevenson")
Motions to Vacate Death Sentence and Resentence Pursuant to
11 Del. C. § 4205 (D.I. 469, D.I. 394); the
State's Responses thereto (D.I. 470, D.I. 395); and the
record in these matters, it appears to the Court that:
Manley and Stevenson were convicted of Murder in the First
Degree at a joint trial on November 13, 1996,  and sentenced to
death by this Court on January 10, 1997. Both sentences
were affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court on direct
appeal. Although the Supreme Court later reversed
the sentences,  a second penalty hearing again established
beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of three statutory
aggravators in Manley's case and three in
Stevenson's. This Court again sentenced each defendant
to death; each sentence was later affirmed by the Delaware
Supreme Court. More recently, in 2017, the Delaware
Supreme Court followed its decision in Raufv.
State and ruled that Manley and Stevenson's
death sentences must be vacated and the two defendants
resentenced to life without parole.
Manley and Stevenson now ask this Court to vacate their death
sentences but-notwithstanding the Supreme Court's
mandate, which neither defendant sought reargument or other
review of-to resentence them under Delaware's Class A
Felony penalty provisions. Manley contends: (a) that this Court is
not obligated by Rauf to impose a mandatory sentence
of life without parole; and (b) that such a mandatory
sentence of life without parole would violate his rights
under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution. Stevenson just adopts
Rauf, which invalidated certain portions of
Delaware's death penalty statute (11 Del. C.
§ 4209), the Supreme Court held that those procedural
provisions of the statute that didn't comply with the
federal Constitution could not be severed "[b]ecause the
respective roles of the judge and jury are so complicated
under § 4209" that the Court was "unable to
discern a method by which to parse the statute so as to
preserve it." But Rauf did not speak to the
severability of the substantive life-without-parole penalty
provisions of § 4209. And later decisions, including
the Supreme Court's in Powell v.
State and this Court's in State v.
Swan,  upheld the mandatory sentence of life
without parole in Raufs wake.
there was any doubt about the viability of those substantive
sentencing provisions before, the Supreme Court has recently
put that doubt fully to rest: Rauf simply did not
strike down the entirety of § 4209.
Zebroski v. State-the case of a defendant formerly
sentenced to death who challenged his resentencing to
mandatory life without parole under the very same statutory
language at issue here-the Supreme Court ruled that
Raufs severability question was "only . . .
whether it was possible to sever the constitutionally-infirm
parts of the capital punishment scheme from the
constitutionally-sound ones in a way that would preserve the
death penalty."Zebroski made clear that
"the statute's life-without-parole alternative is
the correct sentence to impose on a defendant whose death
sentence is vacated." And so, ...