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Cooper v. State
Supreme Court of Delaware
February 7, 2019
ERIC COOPER, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.
Submitted: November 15, 2018
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No.
VALIHURA, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
F. TRAYNOR JUSTICE.
consideration of the appellant's opening brief, the
appellee's motion to affirm, and the Superior Court
record, it appears to the Court that:
(1) The appellant, Eric Cooper, filed a motion for correction
of illegal sentence under Superior Court Criminal Rule 35(a).
Cooper claimed that his sentence exceeded statutory limits
and violated double-jeopardy principles. The Superior Court
denied the Rule 35(a) motion as untimely filed and because a
reduction or modification of sentence was not warranted. The
State has moved to affirm the Superior Court's judgment
on the grounds that it is manifest on the face of
Cooper's opening brief that the appeal is without merit.
Having carefully considered the parties' positions on
appeal, we affirm the Superior Court's denial of
Cooper's motion, but we do so for independent and
(2) Cooper was tried before a Superior Court jury for
offenses arising from a 2008 home invasion. The evidence at
trial established that, shortly before 1:00 a.m. on May 23,
2008, two masked men-Cooper and another man-barged into the
apartment of Eric Ross. Ross was there socializing with four
friends-Ian Mason, Amanda Stevens, Isaiah Mason, and Travis
Breitzke. Cooper had a revolver, and the other man had a
shotgun. The intruders ordered Ross and his friends to get on
the floor and empty their pockets. Instead of getting on the
floor, Travis Breitzke ducked into the kitchen and called
911. When Ian Mason stood up and tried to reason with the
intruders, Cooper fired several shots, one of which struck
Ian Mason in the abdomen. The intruders then fled the
(3) The jury convicted Cooper of one count of Assault in the
First Degree as a lesser-included offense of Attempted Murder
in the First Degree; five counts of Attempted Robbery in the
First Degree; three counts of Reckless Endangering in the
First Degree, and one count of Burglary in the First Degree.
For each of those offenses, the jury convicted Cooper of a
related count of Possession of a Firearm During the
Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"). Also, the jury
convicted Cooper of Wearing a Disguise During the Commission
of a Felony and Conspiracy in the Second Degree.
(4) When sentencing Cooper, the Superior Court imposed
separate, mandatory terms of Level V incarceration for each
of the assault and burglary convictions, the
attempted-robbery convictions, and the PFDCF convictions. For
the reckless-endangering and wearing-a-disguise convictions,
the Superior Court sentenced Cooper to a total of twenty
years of Level V incarceration-five years for each
conviction-suspended for probation. For the conspiracy
conviction, Cooper was sentenced to two years of Level V
incarceration suspended for probation. On direct appeal, we
affirmed Cooper's convictions and
sentences. Thereafter, Cooper filed motions for
postconviction relief under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61.
The Superior Court denied both motions. Cooper did not
(5) Cooper has raised two claims in his appeal from the
denial of his motion for correction of illegal sentence.
First, he contends that the fifteen-year Level V suspended
sentence for the three reckless-endangering convictions (five
years for each conviction) and the mandatory two-year Level V
sentence for the assault conviction should have merged
because the reckless endangering convictions were
lesser-included offenses of the assault conviction.
Cooper's claim is without merit. There is no merger issue
here. None of the three counts of reckless endangering was
charged as a lesser-included offense of the assault count.
Cooper was charged, convicted, and sentenced for assaulting
Ian Mason and was charged, convicted, and sentenced for
endangering Amanda Stevens, Isaiah Mason, and Eric
(6) In his second claim on appeal, Cooper contends that the
separate sentences imposed for the assault, burglary,
attempted robbery, and related PFDCF convictions should be
vacated because the convictions arose out of one incident,
namely, the home invasion on May 23, 2008. The claim is
without merit. Cooper's conduct during the home invasion
constituted distinct crimes of violence against five
victims. Imposing a separate punishment for each of
those crimes did not violate principles of double jeopardy
and was not illegal.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the motion to affirm is
GRANTED. The judgment of the Superior Court is AFFIRMED.
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