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State v. Alley

Superior Court of Delaware

October 16, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
ROBERT ALLEY, Defendant.

          Submitted: June 22, 2018

          ORDER

          PAUL R. WALLACE, JUDGE.

         Upon Defendant Robert Alley'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.

         This 16th day of October, 2018, upon consideration of the Defendant Robert Alley's Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (D.I. 146), the Attorney General's response thereto (D.I. 147), the parties' supplemental submissions (D.I. 148, 150, 155, 156, and 157), and the record in this matter, it appears to the Court that:

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         (1) On March 4, 2013, a New Castle County grand jury indicted Alley for two counts of Robbery in the First Degree, and one count of Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony. [1]

          (2) These multiple offenses arose from two separate robberies that Alley committed on December 30, 2012. Close to 3:00 a.m. that morning, Alley walked up to a Wawa store clerk, threatened he had a gun, and told the young man to give him money. Alley then went behind the sales counter and took more than $200 from the cash register. As he left, Alley ordered the clerk not to follow-if he did, Alley said, Alley would shoot him dead. Shortly after 7:00 p.m. that same day, Alley entered a Hibachi Express Japanese Restaurant with a hood pulled over his head, a black cloth covering the lower part of his face, and his hand in his pocket intimating to the hostess that he had a gun. Again, he went behind the sales counter. Again, he took about $200 from the restaurant's register. And again, he threatened the accosted employee that she would be shot. [2]

         (3) At the time he committed these robberies, Alley had at least three prior violent felony convictions and was, therefore, a habitual criminal offender. [3]

         (4) On August 28, 2014, Alley pleaded guilty to a single count of Robbery in the Second Degree (as a lesser-included offense). [4] He did so in exchange for dismissal of the remaining charges and the State's favorable sentencing recommendation (a cap often years imprisonment). [5] His sentencing occurred a few months later, on December 19, 2014, after a pre-sentence investigative report was prepared and the State had filed a habitual criminal petition on the robbery. [6] For that second degree robbery conviction, Alley was sentenced to eight and one-half years of imprisonment be served under the provisions of the then-extant Habitual Criminal Act.[7] Alley's sentencing order notes that his habitual criminal sentence was effective on December 19, 2014, with 726 days credit for time previously served. [8]

         (5) Alley 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). [9] The Attorney General responded. [10] And the Court has since received and reviewed the parties' supplemental filings [11] to determine Alley's eligibility to seek § 4214(f) relief. The Court has carefully considered the parties' positions as to whether Alley can be granted a certificate of eligibility. He cannot.

         B. Alley Does Not Meet § 42l4(f)'s Type-of-Sentence Requirement.

         (6) The first eligibility requirement an inmate must meet to gain sentence relief under 11 Del. C. § 4214(f) is the type-of sentence requirement. [12] Alley does not meet this requirement because his eight and one-half year incarcerative term was imposed solely within his sentencing judge's discretion. [13]

         (7) When Alley was sentenced for second degree robbery as a habitual offender, § 4214(a) provided a habitual offender could receive a sentence of up to life imprisonment and would "receive a minimum sentence which shall not be less than the statutory maximum penalty provided elsewhere in this Title for the fourth or subsequent felony which forms the basis of the State's petition to have the person declared to be an habitual criminal except that this minimum provision shall apply only when the fourth or subsequent felony is a Title 11 violent felony, as defined in § 4201(c) of this title." [14] The statutory maximum penalty for second degree robbery, the violent felony [15] that formed the basis of the State's petition to declare Alley a habitual offender, was five years at Level V incarceration. [16] So Alley faced a sentence ranging between anywhere from five years to life imprisonment. Because the sentencing judge exercised her discretion under ยง 4214(a) to sentence Alley to eight and one-half years of imprisonment instead ...


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