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Manuel v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

May 8, 2018

KARL C. MANUEL, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: February 12, 2018

          Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 1605013801 (N)

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

          ORDER

          Gary F. Traynor, Justice

         This is the appellant's direct appeal from his conviction and sentencing in the Superior Court. Having considered the no-merit brief and motion to withdraw submitted by the appellant's counsel under Supreme Court Rule 26(c), the State's response, and the Superior Court record, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) Wilmington Police Detective Matthew Rosaio conducted a pat-down search of the appellant, Karl C. Manuel, on May 19, 2016. Detective Rosaio seized a handgun from Manuel's pants pocket. Manuel did not have a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon.

         (2) Detective Rosaio placed Manuel under arrest. In the affidavit incident to the arrest warrant, Detective Rosaio stated, in part:

During the patdown, this officer immediately felt a hard object in what I know through training and experience to be consistent with a handgun in [Manuel's] left pant cargo pocket. This officer asked MANUEL what the object was, to which MANUEL dropped his head and stated, "…a gun." MANUEL was taken into custody without incident and this officer removed the following from his left cargo pocket: A black and purple in color LC9, .380 cal semi-automatic handgun (Serial: 329-10965). This officer immediately made the weapon safe and found that it was loaded with 6 live rounds of hornaday .380 cal ammunition (Chamber was empty).

         (3) Following his arrest, Manuel was indicted in September 2016 for drug, traffic, and three weapon offenses: Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited ("PFBPP"), Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited ("PABPP"), and Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon ("CCDW"). Manuel waived his right to a jury trial and was tried before a Superior Court judge on January 18, 2017.

         (4) The parties stipulated at trial that Manuel was a person prohibited from possessing a firearm.[1] During the State's case-in-chief, Detective Rosaio testified that the firearm seized from Manuel was a "Ruger LC9 semiautomatic handgun."[2]On cross-examination, Manuel's counsel asked the Detective, "[T]urning to your affidavit, is it fair to describe the handgun in this case as an LC .380 semiautomatic?"[3] Detective Rosaio answered, "Ruger LC9, 380-caliber, yes."[4]

         (5) At the close of the State's evidence, Manuel's counsel moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that the evidence adduced at trial-namely, Detective Rosaio's testimony that Manuel was found in possession of a loaded and concealed Ruger LC9 semiautomatic 380-caliber handgun-did not prove the allegations in the indictment that Manuel was found in possession of a loaded and concealed "Ruger .9mm" firearm. The trial judge denied the motion for judgment of acquittal and ultimately found Manuel guilty of the weapon offenses and a traffic offense.

         (6) On appeal, Manuel's trial counsel has filed a no-merit brief under Rule 26(c) and a corresponding motion to withdraw. Manuel has supplemented the brief with a written submission, challenging the denial of the motion for judgment of acquittal and alleging reversible error in the "fatal variance" between the indictment and the evidence adduced at trial. The State has responded to Manuel's submission and the position taken by his trial counsel and has moved to affirm the Superior Court's judgment.

         (7) In an appeal from the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal, we decide de novo "whether any rational trier of fact, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, could find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all the elements of the crime.[5]

         (8) The elements of a crime are defined by statute as "those physical acts, attendant circumstances, results and states of mind which are specifically included within the definition of the offense[.]"[6] The statutory elements of PFBPP and PABPP are the knowing "purchasing, owning, possessing or controlling [of] a deadly weapon or ammunition for a firearm" by a person prohibited.[ ...


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