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State v. George

Superior Court of Delaware

September 17, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
MONIR GEORGE Defendant.

          Submitted Date: July 1, 2018

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF, MOTION FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING, MOTION FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL, MOTION TO SET ASIDE CONVICTION AND ORDER A NEW TRIAL, AND MOTION OF EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE THAT JUSTIFIES A NEW TRIAL

          Monir George, pro se.

          Bradley V. Manning, Commissioner

         This 17th day of September 2018, upon consideration of the various motions submitted by defendant Monir George for postconviction relief (hereinafter the "Motion" or "Motions"), I find and recommend the following:

         Facts and Procedural History

         Monir George ("Defendant") was found Guilty But Mentally Ill. of Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Reckless Endangering in the First Degree, and three counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, on October 29, 2009, following a bench trial. At trial, Defendant was represented by counsel who did not deny that he committed the murder, but rather, argued that he should be found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity or guilty of Manslaughter based on Extreme Emotional Distress.[1]

         Defendant's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal by the Delaware Supreme Court on October 13, 2010.[2] Defendant then filed his first timely motion for postconviction relief, pro se, on October 7, 2011.[3] An amended motion for postconviction relief was filed with the assistance of counsel on June 28, 2013. Following extensive briefing, Commissioner Vavala issued a report and recommendation that the motion should be denied on March 6, 2014.[4] On May 15, 2014, Judge Jurden issued an Order adopting the commissioner's report after a de novo review. The Delaware Supreme Court subsequently affirmed the order denying the motion for postconviction relief on March 24, 2015.[5]

         On July 1, 2018, Defendant filed the five motions now before the Court. Excluding the Motion for Appointment of Counsel, all of Defendant's Motions request the same thing-a new trial, and concern the same topics-the testimony of the State's firearms expert, Carl Rhone, and to a lesser extent, the testimony of the then Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Richard T. Callery. Defendant's Motions were referred to the undersigned commissioner on August 28, 2018. After reviewing the trial transcripts, the previous appeals and motions for postconviction relief, I did not find it necessary to hold an evidentiary hearing based on the nature of Defendant's allegations. Additionally, based on the procedural posture of the case and Defendant's arguments, the Motion for Appointment of Counsel should be denied pursuant to Rule 61(e)(4) because, as discussed in more detail below, the various motions do not meet the pleading requirements of Rule 61(2)(i) or (2)(ii).

         The facts of the case, as found by the Delaware Supreme Court in Defendant's direct appeal, are as follows:

The evidence at trial was that, on May 25, 2008, at approximately 7:00 p.m., a fundraising event for St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church was being held at the Christiana Hilton in Christiana, Delaware. Malak Michael, a deacon and chief fundraiser for the church, was just finishing a speech to a group of supporters when George approached him and shot him. Michael died on arrival at Christiana Hospital. George also unsuccessfully attempted to shoot Reverend Mina Mina, another member of the church clergy. George was motivated by hatred for the church clergy, whom he believed were corrupt, and by hatred for Michael in particular, whom he blamed for his break-up with his wife.
Testifying at trial were witnesses to the incident, Gigi Phillips, Michael's niece, George Kamel, Vaylet Mikhail, and Sylvia Makar. At the time of the shooting, all four individuals had been on or near the dais where the victim gave his speech. Phillips and Kamel assisted in disarming George after the shooting. Carl Rone, a firearms expert, testified regarding the two Smith & Wesson semi-automatic weapons George brought with him to the hotel. A number of witnesses testified concerning George's pattern of animosity toward the church clergy and his depressed mood prior to the incident. Three experts from the Delaware Psychiatric Center-Robert Thompson, Ph.D., a forensic psychologist, Carol Tavani, M.D., a psychiatrist, and Stephen Mechanick, M.D., also a psychiatrist, testified concerning George's mental state at the time of the incident. Drs. Thompson and Mechanick opined that George was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. Dr. Tavani opined that he was insane at the time of the shooting.[6]
Defendant's claims for postconviction relief quoted verbatim, are as follows:
Ground One: Forensic Firearms expert suspended and arrested. Newly discovered evidence regarding credibility of firearms expert Mr. Carl Rone, who testified at trial on Wed. 10-7-09. He was suspended then arrested for falsifying official records.
Ground Two: The State relied on corrupt experts. State experts gave perjured testimony at trial, and later Mr. Rone was suspended, then arrested. Dr. Richard T. Callery got fired, and Dr. Stephen Mechanic changes his opinion in favor of the highest bidder.
Ground Three: The State submitted false evidence (exhibit #79). Not only the State used corrupt experts, but also could not match exhibit #79 to firearms presented (exhibits #69 and #70), see trial transcripts of 10-7-09, page 144, starting at line 22.
All above grounds were not previously raised. Newly discovered evidence with the suspension [and] arrest of firearms expert Mr. Carl Rone for falsifying official records. The credibility issues were not known ...

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