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State v. Manley

Superior Court of Delaware

February 28, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MICHAEL R. MANLEY, Defendant. STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
DAVID STEVENSON, Defendant.

          Submitted: January 26, 2018

         Cr. A. Nos. IN95-11-1323R3 - 1325R3, IN95-12-0684R3 - O686R3, IN95-11-1047R2 - 1049R2, IN95-12-0687R2 - O689R2.

          Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Deputy Attorney General

          Maria T. Knoll, Deputy Attorney General

          Christopher S. Koyste, Esquire

          Beth Ann Muhlhauser, Esquire

          Anne Saunders, Esquire

          Herbert W. Mondros, Esquire

          Shawn Nolan, Esquire

          Claudia Van Wyk, Esquire

          ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO VACATE DEATH SENTENCE AND RESENTENCE PURSUANT TO 11 DEL. C. § 4205

          PAUL R. WALLACE, JUDGE

         This 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:

         (1) Manley and Stevenson were convicted of Murder in the First Degree at a joint trial on November 13, 1996, [1] and sentenced to death by this Court on January 10, 1997.[2] Both sentences were affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court on direct appeal.[3] Although the Supreme Court later reversed the sentences, [4] 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.[5] This Court again sentenced each defendant to death; each sentence was later affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court.[6] More recently, in 2017, the Delaware Supreme Court followed its decision in Raufv. State[7] and ruled that Manley and Stevenson's death sentences must be vacated and the two defendants resentenced to life without parole.[8]

         (2) 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.[9] 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 Manley's arguments.[10]

         (3) In 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."[11] But Rauf did not speak to the severability of the substantive life-without-parole penalty provisions of § 4209.[12] And later decisions, including the Supreme Court's in Powell v. State[13] and this Court's in State v. Swan, [14] upheld the mandatory sentence of life without parole in Raufs wake.

         (4) If 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.[15]

         (5) In 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."[16]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."[17] And so, ...


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