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State v. Lewis

Superior Court of Delaware

August 28, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
EDWARD M. LEWIS, Defendant.

          Submitted: May 23, 2018

         Upon Defendant Edward M. Lewis's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility to File Under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) and Del Super. Ct. Spec. R. 2017-1(d), DENIED.

          ORDER

          Paul R. Wallace, Judge

         This 28th day of August, 2018, upon consideration of the Defendant Edward M. Lewis's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (D.I. 64), the Attorney General's response thereto (D.I. 66), the parties' supplemental submission and exhibits, and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) On March 30, 2004, a Superior Court Jury convicted Edward M. Lewis of Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony (PDWDCF), Aggravated Menacing, Assault in the Third Degree, Disorderly Conduct, Reckless Endangering in the Second Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.[1] His sentencing occurred a few months later, on June 27, 2004, after a pre-sentence investigative report was prepared and the State filed a habitual criminal petition.[2]Lewis was sentenced to the minimum required for the triggering PDWDCF conviction (IK03-05-0553) for which the State sought habitual criminal sentencing under the then-extant Habitual Criminal Act: 20 years at Level V.[3] For all of the other counts, he received an additional aggregate of four years and 30 days imprisonment that was suspended in whole for probation.[4] Lewis's sentencing order notes that his habitual criminal sentence was effective on January 9, 2004.[5]

         (2) Lewis has requested a certificate of eligibility to file a petition seeking exercise of the Court's jurisdiction to modify his sentence under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).[6] The Attorney General responded.[7] And the Court has since heard argument, conducted an evidentiary hearing, [8] and received supplemental documentary evidence[9] to determine the extent of Lewis's prior felony record and its effect on his present eligibility to seek § 4214(f) relief. The Court has carefully considered the parties' positions as to whether Lewis can be granted a certificate of eligibility under the unwonted factual and procedural circumstance presented. He cannot.

Under § 4214(f), an Inmate Must Meet Both the Type-of-Sentence and Time-Served Requirements.

         (3) It appears that Lewis does meet the type-of-sentence eligibility requirement set forth in 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).[10] But the Court finds that Lewis does not meet the time-served eligibility requirement set forth in 11 Del. C. § 4214(f).

          (5) Under § 4217(f), an inmate meets the time-served eligibility requirement when he "has served a sentence of incarceration equal to any applicable mandatory sentence otherwise required by [the new provisions of 11 Del. C. § 4214] or the statutes describing said offense or offenses [for which the inmate was sentenced], whichever is greater."[11] Most often, that requires the Court to determine where in the new habitual criminal sentencing regime a potential § 4214(f) petitioner would fall. And, most often, that is done easily enough by reviewing the State's original habitual criminal petition and determining which new habitual criminal enhancement provision would be applicable to the inmate's sentence if he were to be sentenced today.[12] Occasionally, however, because statutory tiering under the revised Habitual Criminal Act is based on considerations such as whether a predicate felony conviction was for a Title 11 violent felony-something that was of no moment to the State when filing, nor the Court when granting a habitual criminal petition under the old law-the Court must, as it did here, conduct a more searching inquiry into the inmate's conviction history.

          (6) To do so in this case, the Court had to conduct a hearing equivalent to that required under section 4215(b) of Title 11 "solely to determine the factual existence of prior convictions which will justify enhanced punishment" under the Habitual Criminal Act.[13] And to do so, the Court has employed the standards for, and made its findings consistent with, those required to determine habitual criminality in the first instance.[14]

         (7) The Court finds that prior to the triggering PDWDCF conviction (IK03-05-0553) for which the State sought (and still seeks) habitual criminal sentencing, Lewis had accrued at least the following felony convictions that would be used to derive his habitual criminal status: Burglary in the Second Degree (IK79-01-0037); Conspiracy in the Second Degree (PK94-06-0168); Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited (PK94-01-0180); and Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon (IK96-05-0298). Lewis's prior conviction for Burglary in the Second Degree (IK79- 01-0037) and the triggering PDWDCF conviction (IK03-05-0553) were each for a "Title 11 violent felony."[15]

         (8) Under current 11 Del. C. § 4214(c), Lewis, who has thrice before been convicted of felonies-one of which was a Title 11 violent felony-must receive a minimum sentence of not less than the statutory maximum penalty otherwise provided for the triggering PDWDCF conviction (IK03-05-0553) that is the Title 11 violent felony that formed the basis of the State's habitual criminal petition.[16] Lewis must, therefore, serve a minimum of 20 years before he could be eligible for § 4214(f) consideration.[17] He has not yet.[18]

          NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant Edward M. Lewis's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility is DENIED; he may not file a petition seeking exercise of this Court's jurisdiction to modify his sentence ...


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