Submitted: December 21, 2018
Written Decision Issued: February 18, 2019
Nos. IN17-03-0408, etc.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF
R. WALLACE, JUDGE.
18th day of February, 2019, having considered
Defendant Kashiem Thomas's Motion for Judgment of
Acquittal (D.I. 67); the State's Response thereto (D.I.
68); the parties' supplemental filings (D.I. 79; D.I.
82); the parties' oral arguments; and the record in this
matter; it appears to the Court that:
Defendant Kashiem Thomas was arrested for multiple charges
stemming from the shooting death of Keevan Hale in
After a six-day jury trial, Thomas was found guilty of Murder
in the First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the
Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"). But before the
matter was submitted to the jury, Thomas had moved
unsuccessfully for a judgment of acquittal. He argued then
that "there has literally been no evidence provided in
any part of the State's case" that he shot and
killed Keevan Hale. Now before the Court is Thomas's
renewed motion seeking to have the Court toss the jury's
verdict, adopt his peculiar view of the evidence, and enter
judgments of acquittal on his two convictions.
Thomas has always challenged just one element essential to
his two convictions: identity. Put simply, Thomas says the State
failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was he who
fatally shot and killed Keevan Hale.
State counters that the evidence presented at trial, both
direct and circumstantial, when viewed in the light most
favorable to its case, was sufficient to allow a reasonable
jury to convict Thomas of intentional murder and its related
Court here briefly recounts just some of the evidence
relevant to this motion. On February 23, 2017, at
approximately 8 p.m., gunfire erupted on the 600 block of
East 23rd Street of Wilmington. When the dust
settled, two men were down. Keevan Hale had been struck
multiple times and collapsed inside his residence at 602 East
23rd Street. The weapon used to shoot and kill Mr.
Hale fired .410 shot shells. Kashiem Thomas was felled on the
front sidewalk just outside Mr. Hales's home. He had been
struck in the right rear flank by a .40 caliber handgun that
Mr. Hale fired back at him. Thomas could not get to his feet,
despite efforts to do so, and remained incapacitated on the
Police arrived quickly to a bevy of onlookers, intermeddlers,
and various members of both the Hale and Thomas families. The
first responding officer tried to render aid to Thomas, but
he was met with resistance from both Thomas and an unknown
man who forbade Thomas from talking to any police officer.
While Mr. Hale lay in extremis on his living room
floor, he confirmed for the police that it was the man
outside on the sidewalk, i.e., Thomas, who had shot
Thomas and Mr. Hale were each taken to the hospital. Thomas
was treated and eventually recovered from his single injury.
Mr. Hale died that evening from his multiple gunshot wounds.
police found .40 caliber spent shell casings and wadding from
.410 shot shells strewn on the grass in front of 602 East
23rd Street and near its front porch area. Mr.
Hale's .40 caliber handgun was found tucked in the
armrest of the living room couch near where he collapsed. Mr.
Hale's mother first located the pistol on her front
porch; his sister hid it in the couch before the police
arrived. The firearm that discharged the wadding and multiple
shot shell projectiles that killed Mr. Hale was never found.
Surveillance footage from the corner store between
Thomas's and Mr. Hale's homes was admitted at trial.
It showed Thomas in and around the store and its environs at
various points during the fifteen-minute period before the
shooting. At all times then, he was clad all in black with
his face fully visible. But as Thomas made his last pass of
the store's outside camera heading down 23rd
Street towards Mr. Hale's house in the few seconds before
the shooting, he had a ski mask covering all but his eyes,
his hood pulled up, and his right hand in his jacket pocket.
witness who had just left Mr. Hale's company, confirmed
that Thomas was the only person he saw on that block of 23
rd Street when Mr. Hale was shot. The sum of that
witness's trial testimony and pre-trial statements made
it clear that Thomas-whom the witness had just passed on the
street and whom the witness saw trying to get up from the
sidewalk just after the exchange of gun fire-was the person
who shot and killed Mr. Hale.
Forensic Shot Spotter evidence demonstrated that all of the
fatal shots were fired first; and, that those fatal shots
were fired from the Hales's front sidewalk and yard.
Forensic testing also identified gunshot residue on
convicted criminal defendant must clear a high bar to prevail
on a motion for judgment of acquittal. The Court may
enter a judgment of acquittal only if "the evidence is
insufficient to sustain a conviction." On such motion,
the Court considers the evidence, "together with all
legitimate inferences therefrom . . . from the point of view
most favorable to the State." The Court must be mindful
that the jury, not the judge, is the factfinder, and it is
"[t]he jury's function is to decide whether the
evidence presented at trial proves, beyond a reasonable
doubt, that the defendant committed the charged
crimes." And so, the standard of review a trial
judge employs on a motion for judgment of acquittal is
'"whether any rational trier of fact,
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State, could find [the defendant] guilty beyond a reasonable