Submitted: April 3, 2019
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No.
VALIHURA, SEITZ, and TRAYNOR, Justices.
COLLINS J. SEITZ, JR. JUSTICE.
29th day of April, 2019, having considered the
briefs and the record below, and following oral argument, it
appears to the Court that:
Superior Court jury convicted Brett Scott of second degree
murder, attempted first degree robbery, and related charges
for the shooting death of Dequan Dukes. Scott has appealed
his convictions, claiming that the evidence at trial did not
permit the jury to infer that Scott intended to commit a
robbery. After a careful review of the record, we find that
the State introduced sufficient evidence for a rational jury
to conclude that Scott intended to commit a robbery, and thus
affirm his convictions.
evidence at trial, viewed in a light favorable to the State,
showed that on July 27, 2017, Raymond Ward convinced Lisa
Wagaman, an acquaintance of Dukes', to join with him to
steal a bag from Dukes' car where Dukes stored drugs and
cash. Ward planned for Wagaman to get Dukes to park his car
in a specific location and distract Dukes while Ward stole
the bag from the car. Ward also enlisted the help of Gregory
Sellers and Scott for this scheme. It was not clear from
testimony why Ward needed two additional men for the plan to
grab the bag. Nor was it clear how much Scott knew about the
initial plan, although Sellers testified that Scott was
informed of "[p]retty much what he picked him up for.
Like, what he was going to do."
Later that afternoon Wagaman was with Dukes in his car, but
decided she no longer wanted to participate and got out of
the car. Scott and Ward approached the car. Scott first asked
Wagaman for a cigarette, and then apparently asked Dukes for
one through the passenger window. The rest of the
conversation is unknown. Sellers testified that Scott reached
towards his waistband, and then Dukes shot at Scott and Scott
shot back. Sellers and Ward then took Scott to the
hospital, where police apprehended Scott. Dukes died from his
wounds, and Scott was seriously injured.
Sellers pled guilty to attempted first degree robbery,
possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and
conspiracy second degree. Wagaman pled guilty to second
degree murder and conspiracy second degree. Ward went to
trial and was acquitted.
Scott's trial, Scott moved for judgment of acquittal,
claiming that the plan all along was to commit a theft, not a
robbery, and thus Scott could not be convicted of attempted
robbery first degree. The Superior Court ruled that the State
introduced sufficient evidence to support an attempted
Mr. Scott rode to Pine Grove Apartments, with a weapon at one
point that was in his waistband, after an occupant of his car
coordinated the stealing of drugs and money from the alleged
victim at that location. In the light most favorable to the
State, the accumulation of those individuals, and their
coordinated movement towards confronting the alleged victim
constitutes a substantial step in furtherance of theft and
what was to be a robbery attempt. Upon arriving there,
evidence supports that Mr. Ward and Mr. Scott together
approached the vehicle. Possibly after Codefendant Wagaman
has left, that words were exchanged, Mr. Scott reached for
his waistband, but was shot at by Mr. Dukes before Mr. Scott
was able to shoot his gun and fire.
Evidence of Mr. Scott traveling to the planned theft site
with a gun, his not sneaking up on a car, but rather
approaching and confronting the alleged victim with Mr. Ward,
exchanging words with an alleged victim without committing a
snatch-and-grab, and then reaching for his waistband before
the first gun was discharged, would support a rational trier
of fact in concluding that both Mr. Scott's state of mind
and conduct satisfied all elements of attempted
Scott has appealed his conviction, claiming that at most he
should have been convicted of theft, not robbery. We review
de novo the Superior Court's denial of
Scott's motion for judgment of acquittal to decide
"whether any rational trier of fact, viewing
the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, could
find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all
the elements of the crime."
Theft is defined in 11 Del. C. § 841 as
"when the person takes, exercises control over or
obtains property of another person intending to deprive that
person of it or appropriate it." 11 Del. C.
§ 831(a) defines robbery as when "in the course of
committing theft, the person uses or threatens the immediate
use of force upon another person." "In the
course of committing a theft" includes "any act
which occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in immediate
flight after the attempt or commission of the
theft." Thus, robbery includes a ...