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Hargraves v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 14, 2018

DEVON K. HARGRAVES, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: April 19, 2018

          Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 1704016072 (N)

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and VAUGHN, Justices.

          ORDER

          KAREN L. VALIHURA, JUSTICE.

         (1) 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:

         (2) The appellant, Devon Hargraves, was indicted on charges of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited, Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, Discharge of a Firearm on a Street, Criminal Mischief, and Resisting Arrest. Prior to trial, Hargraves' trial counsel filed a motion to suppress the evidence as illegally seized from an illegal stop. The Superior Court held an evidentiary hearing and, on September 22, 2017, issued a memorandum order denying the motion suppress. A copy of the Superior Court's order is attached here for reference.

         (3) After the denial of the motion to suppress, Hargraves' case proceeded to a bench trial. On September 26, 2017, the Superior Court found Hargraves guilty of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, and Resisting Arrest, and sentenced him to a total of twenty-four years at Level V suspended after five years for ten years of Level IV supervision suspended after six months for concurrent Level III supervision and monitoring.

         (4) Hargraves' counsel on appeal has filed a no-merit brief under Rule 26(c) and a corresponding motion to withdraw. Hargraves has submitted written points, which are included in the brief. In his points, Hargraves contends that he was illegally stopped by the police and that the evidence seized as a result of that illegal stop-chiefly, a handgun from the waistband of his pants-should have been suppressed. The State has responded to Hargraves' points, the position taken by his appellate counsel, and has moved to affirm the Superior Court's judgment.

         (5) When reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress evidence based on an allegedly illegal stop, we conduct a de novo review "to determine whether the totality of the circumstances, in light of the trial judge's factual findings, support a reasonable and articulable suspicion for the stop."[1] In this case, having conducted the required de novo review, we conclude that the totality of the circumstances, as determined by the Superior Court in its thorough and well-reasoned order denying the motion to suppress, supports the legal conclusion that the responding police officer had reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Hargraves.

         (6) When considering a Rule 26(c) brief and an accompanying motion to withdraw, we must be satisfied that the appellant's counsel has made a conscientious examination of the record and the law for claims that could arguably support the appeal.[2] Also, we must conduct our own review of the record to determine whether the appeal is so totally devoid of at least arguably appealable issues that it can be decided without an adversary presentation.[3]

         (7) In this case, we have reviewed the record and concluded that Hargraves's appeal is '"wholly without merit."[4] We are satisfied that Hargraves' appellate counsel made a conscientious effort to examine the record and the law and properly determined that Hargraves could not raise a meritorious claim on appeal. The points raised by Hargraves on appeal were raised in the motion to suppress and argued by his trial counsel at the evidentiary hearing. The Superior Court's memorandum order of September 22, 2017, denying the motion to suppress, is affirmed on appeal.

         NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the State's motion to affirm is GRANTED. The judgments of the Superior Court are AFFIRMED. The motion to withdraw is moot.

         IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE

         STATE OF DELAWARE,

         v.

         DEVON K. HARGRAVES Defendant.

         ID No. 1704016072

         MEMORANDUM ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS

         Upon consideration of the Motion to Suppress Evidence (the "Motion") filed by Defendant Devon K. Hargraves on August 7, 2017; the State's Response to Defendant's Motion to Suppress (the "Response") filed by the State of Delaware on September 1, 2017; the evidence provided by the parties at a hearing held on September 11, 2017 (the "Hearing"); the arguments made on the Motion and Response by the parties at the Hearing; and for the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.

         Introduction

         This is a criminal action. The State has charged Mr. Hargraves with a possession of a firearm by a person prohibited case. On April 23, 2017, persons contacted the Wilmington Police Department ("WPD"), through several 911 calls, regarding shots fired in the area of North Van Buren Street. Corporal Donald Cramer responded to the area. After arriving, Corporal Cramer attempted to stop Mr. Hargraves, who matched the description of two 911 callers. After several commands to stop, Mr. Hargraves fled from Corporal Cramer. WPD apprehended Mr. Hargraves and found a firearm in Mr. Hargraves' possession.

         Mr. Hargraves filed the Motion to suppress the gun found on his person arguing (i) that Corporal Cramer seized Mr. Hargraves at the point Corporal Cramer exited his police vehicle and told Mr. Hargraves to stop; and (ii) Corporal Cramer did not possess ...


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