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State v. Sturgis

Superior Court of Delaware

August 20, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
TERVAUGHN C. STURGIS Defendant.

          Submitted: July 20, 2018

          Sonia Augusthy, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Tervaughn C. Sturgis, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, pro se.

          COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE SUMMARILY DISMISSED

          KATHARINE MAYER, COMMISSIONER

         This 20th day of August, 2018, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:

         BACKGROUND, FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         1. On November 4, 2003, Defendant plead guilty to Robbery First Degree and agreed to immediate sentencing. As a result of the plea and Defendant's agreement to 20 years at Level V, Defendant avoided an habitual offender determination, would have otherwise been eligible for life imprisonment and the remaining charges were dismissed.

         2. At the time of the plea, Defendant executed a Truth-in-Sentencing Form and acknowledged that he was freely and voluntarily pleading guilty to the charge of Robbery First Degree, that he was not promised anything in exchange for the plea, and that he was waiving certain fundamental constitutional rights.

         3. Defendant subsequently filed three (3) Motions to Modify Sentence, [1] a Petition for Computation with the Board of Pardons, [2] and most recently a Motion for Postconviction Relief (the "Motion").[3]

          4. Defendant's Motion presents the following arguments: (i) Defense counsel was ineffective when he failed to challenge the State's improper charging for the offense; and (ii) the Trial Court illegally sentenced Defendant. Essentially, Defendant believes the State failed to adequately charge the crime of Robbery because the Indictment alleged Defendant deprived the victim of his "property" whereas the Affidavit of Probable Cause specifically referenced "property consisting of USC (or United States Currency)" and the Affidavit report stated "approximately $70 USC". Defendant submits that "the property was simply 'U.S. Currency' and not 'property' as the indictment indicates." Defendant believes his counsel was ineffective for not challenging this inconsistency, and that he should have moved to suppress the Indictment and/or contested the photo lineup based upon the State's failure to adequately charge the correct robbery count.

         CONCLUSION

         5. Before considering the merits of a claim, the Court must first determine whether there are any procedural bars to the Motion.[4] There are several procedural bars applicable to Defendant's arguments and as such, the Court should not consider the merits of the claims.[5] Moreover, pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(d)(5) the Motion may be summarily dismissed because it plainly appears from the record in the case that movant is not entitled to relief.

         6. As an initial matter, Defendant's Motion is barred by Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(i)(1) for having been filed more than one year after the judgment of conviction became final. Defendant's conviction became final thirty days after sentencing or December 4, 2003.[6] This Motion, having been filed more than fourteen (14) years later, is untimely.

         7. Further, pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 61(i)(3) and (4), any ground for relief that was not previously raised is deemed waived, and any claims that were formerly adjudicated, whether in the proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction, in an appeal, in a postconviction proceeding, or in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, are thereafter barred. Defendant has challenged his sentence no less than three (3) times through motions over a period of years, each of which were denied. The legality of his sentence has been formerly adjudicated and should not be re-considered. Defendant's ...


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