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State v. Graham

Superior Court of Delaware

March 12, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
SHALEIR GRAHAM, Defendant.

          Submitted: February 1, 2018

         Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Transfer Charges to Family Court, DENIED.

          Mark A. Denney, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for the State.

          Misty A. Seemans, Esquire & Tiffany Adams Anders, Esquire, Assistant Public Defenders, Office of Defense Services, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for the Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIVIAN L. MEDINILLA, JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Shaleir Graham ("Defendant") faces two separate sets of adult charges from alleged violent conduct when he was fourteen years old.[1] His first set of charges include Robbery First Degree, Assault First Degree, Reckless Endangering First Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, three counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Possession or Control of a Firearm By a Prohibited Juvenile, and Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited.[2] The second set of charges include Attempted Murder First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, two counts of Possession or Control of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, and Possession or Control of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited.[3] All charges may be considered for transfer to Family Court under 10 Del. C. § 1011. Upon Defendant's Motion to Transfer, a reverse amenability hearing was held on December 20, 2017, where the Court deferred its decision pending completion of competency restoration, submitted on February 1, 2018. After consideration of the parties' submissions, oral arguments, and the record in this case, Defendant's Motion to Transfer Charges to Family Court is DENIED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant has a significant juvenile criminal history in the Family Court, including six felony adjudications, two misdemeanor adjudications, twelve violations of probation, and numerous arrests. Defendant has been detained and participated in various programs through the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families, Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services ("YRS") with little success. While Defendant was on home monitoring for prior charges, he failed to charge his GPS ankle bracelet and ignored orders to do so from both Family Court and YRS. The allegations that bring Defendant to this Court stem from two incidents on April 16, 2017 and May 10, 2017, both while he was on home supervision and his GPS remained uncharged.

         At the reverse amenability hearing on December 20, 2017, the State called Detective Flores ("Flores") to testify on behalf of the State as to Defendant's alleged conduct on April 16, 2017. Flores testified that Defendant allegedly used a firearm to rob, assault, and threaten the lives of a man and his nine-year-old daughter. The facts, if proven, are as follows:

         While the father and daughter were walking from a store, they were approached by a group of young men, including Defendant. While robbing the father, they exchanged words, wherein father pleaded with Defendant to spare his daughter from the events that were unfolding and to let her leave. Defendant allegedly pointed a handgun at the child's head and told the father, "f*k your daughter." After ordering his daughter to run, the man was pistol-whipped by the Defendant in the back of the head and was punched and kicked by the other juveniles.

         The man was treated in the Intensive Care Unit and had to be placed in a medically induced coma. Detective Flores later interviewed the man, who described his assailant's firearm as a chrome "old style cowboy" revolver with a white inlay. After a gun matching that description was recovered by Detective Pewitt ("Pewitt") from Defendant's residence, the assault victim was shown a photo array. The victim identified Defendant as the one who displayed the firearm and attacked him, and additionally pointed the firearm at his daughter.

         Pewitt then testified on behalf of the State regarding the May 10, 2017 incident, where Defendant allegedly fired a handgun at a woman after she tried to stop an assault on her boyfriend by several juveniles, including Defendant. Two of the juveniles pulled out handguns and started firing upon the victims as they were attempting to run away. The victim stated that the shooters ran in to a residence that she believed to be owned by Defendant's mother and identified Defendant as the shooter. Defendant's mother consented to a search of the property and police located two handguns, including a chrome old style revolver with a white inlay.

         Defendant moved to transfer his case to Family Court on June 2, 2017. A reverse amenability hearing was held on December 20, 2017.[4] The State called three witnesses: Detective Flores, Detective Pewitt, and Jennifer Skinner on behalf of YRS. Additionally, the parties stipulated to the introduction of two reports: a psychological report from Laura Cooney-Koss, Psy.D. and a second from Ms. Skinner on behalf of YRS. The Court also awaited a competency report that was pending at the time of the reverse amenability hearing but no longer at issue in this determination.[5] After considering the parties' submissions, arguments, and the evidence presented at the reverse amenability hearing, the matter is ripe for a determination on Defendant's Motion to Transfer.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The reverse amenability process is meant to identify those juveniles charged as adults who are amenable to the rehabilitative processes of the Family Court.[6] If the juvenile files a motion to transfer the adult charges, this Court must hold a reverse amenability hearing and weigh the four factors set forth in 10 Del. C. § 1011(b).[7]

         Under § 1011(b), the Court may consider evidence of: (1) "[t]he nature of the present offense and the extent and nature of the defendant's prior record, if any;" (2) "[t]he nature of past treatment and rehabilitative efforts and the nature of the defendant's response thereto, if any;" (3) "[w]hether the interests of society and the defendant would be best served by trial in the Family Court or in the Superior Court;" and any "other factors which, in the judgment of the Court are deemed relevant."[8]

         DISCUSSION

         Fair ...


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