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State v. Caudle

Superior Court of Delaware

September 5, 2018


          Submitted: August 6, 2018

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

          Matthew B. Frawley, Esquire, and Colleen E. Durkin, Esquire, Deputy Attorneys General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for the State.

          F. Phillip Renzulli, Esquire and Joseph M. Leager, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for the Defendant.

          The Honorable Richard R. Cooch Defendant

          Matthew B. Frawley, Esquire, Colleen E. Durkin, Esquire, F. Phillip Renzulli, Esquire, Joseph M. Leager, Esquire




         Derrick Caudle ("Defendant") is charged with Murder First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF") as the result of a fatal shooting that occurred on February 18, 2018 when Defendant was sixteen years of age.[1] As a preliminary matter, because the State has charged Defendant with one count of PFDCF, this firearm charge remains in this Court, [2] and Defendant will not be spared Superior Court proceedings regardless of his arguments for transfer of the Murder First Degree charge.[3] Defendant thus only seeks this Court transfer the Murder First Degree charge under 10 Del. C. § 1011. After considering the submission of the parties, the parties' oral arguments at the reverse amenability hearing, and the record in this case, the Court finds that the § 1011(b) factors do not weigh in favor of transferring Defendant's charge of Murder First Degree to Family Court. Therefore, Defendant's Motion to Transfer is DENIED.


         The State called two witnesses. First, Chief Investigating Officer Detective Womer testified that Defendant and the victim agreed to engage in a fight on February 18, 2018 that took place in front of Defendant's house. He further testified that video footage captures the altercation between Defendant and the victim, depicting several landed and missed punches thrown from both individuals. Eyewitnesses recounted to law enforcement that immediately after the fight, Defendant went into his house and returned with a shotgun. He then approached the victim, placed the shotgun within close range of the victim's chest, and may have directed the victim to put his chin up before the fatal shot was fired.

         As part of the homicide investigation and immediately following the shooting, law enforcement identified Defendant as the shooter. He provided at least two different versions of what transpired before the shooting. His versions varied from the eyewitnesses' accounts, suggesting that the firearm went off accidentally after a physical struggle ensued for control of the weapon. Defendant was arrested on the same day of the shooting and has been held since at the New Castle County Detention Center for the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services ("YRS") of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & their Families ("DSCYF").

         The State then called Jennifer Skinner, the Master Family Services Specialist Supervisor of YRS, who testified regarding Defendant's current YRS placement, his past criminal history, and the various placements through YRS. Her report was also entered into evidence.[5] She set forth the reasons why Defendant is not amenable to the services offered at YRS.[6]

         To counter, and in support of a transfer under 10 Del. C. § 1011, Defendant called Laura Cooney-Koss, Psy.D, who conducted a psychological evaluation dated June 12, 2018, and opined in her report that Defendant is amenable to the rehabilitative services of the Family Court.[7] Defendant also submitted exhibits to include a letter from The Office of Defense Services dated August 2, 2018, requesting that YRS provide copies of all policy directives, protocols, rules and regulations governing the operations of YRS that mandate services to youth to-or beyond-age 19, and their processes for servicing youth with pending adult charges.[8] YRS responded accordingly citing various provisions of the Delaware Code, including but not limited to, 31 Del. C. §§ 5101, 5107, 5108, 10 Del. C. §§ 901(4) and (5), and 10 Del. C. §§ 1009(c)(3), (9), and (13).[9] With respect to what services are provided to a youth with pending adult charges, YRS cited to 10 Del. C. § 1007 to confirm that medical care, education, and psychiatric and psychological services are provided.


         The reverse amenability process is meant to identify those juveniles charged as adults who are amenable to the rehabilitative processes of the Family Court.[10] If the juvenile files a motion to transfer the adult charges, this Court must hold a reverse amenability hearing and weigh the factors set forth in 10 Del. C. § 1011 (b).[11]

         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."[12]

         Before the Court weighs these factors, however, "the Court must preliminarily determine whether the State has made out a, prima facie case against the juvenile, meaning whether there is a fair likelihood that [Defendant] will be convicted of the crimes charged."[13] There is a fair likelihood that the defendant will be convicted if, after reviewing the totality of the evidence presented, it appears that, if the defense does not sufficiently rebut the State's evidence, "the likelihood of a conviction is real... ."[14] Furthermore, "[a] real probability must exist that a reasonable jury could convict on the totality of the evidence assuming that the evidence adduced at the reverse amenability hearing stands unrebutted by the defendant at trial."[15]


         Fair ...

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