United States District Court, D. Delaware
THOMAS F. KANE, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
F. Kane. Pro se Petitioner.
L. Arban, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.
CONNOLLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:
before the Court is Petitioner Thomas F. Kane's
("Petitioner") Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and his Amended Petition
(hereinafter referred to as "Petition"). (D.I. 1;
D.I. 8) The State filed an Answer in opposition, to which
Petitioner filed a Reply. (D.I. 17; D.I. 25) For the reasons
discussed, the Court will deny the Petition as barred by the
limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.
facts leading to Petitioner's arrest and convictions are
[Petitioner] was arrested in December 2006 and charged with
capital murder in the stabbing death of his wife. The crime
was witnessed by the parties' nine-year-old son.
[Petitioner] was arrested in possession of two bloody knives
and a screwdriver while fleeing the scene. He confessed to
the crime. He pled guilty but mentally ill on February 29,
2008 to one count each of Murder in the First Degree,
Burglary in the First Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a
Child, and Criminal Contempt of a Protection from Abuse
Order. In exchange for his plea, the State dismissed ten
other criminal charges, including murder and weapon offenses,
and agreed to recommend a life sentence instead of seeking
the death penalty. The Superior Court immediately sentenced
[Petitioner] to life imprisonment plus an additional term of
twenty-seven years on all four convictions. [Petitioner] did
not file a direct appeal.
Kane v. State, 135 A.3d 308 (Table), 2016 WL
1165949, at*1 (Del. Mar. 17, 2016).
August 10, 2010, Petitioner filed a motion to modify his
sentence, which the Superior Court denied on October 22,
2010. (D.I. 17) Petitioner did not appeal that decision.
filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
("Rule 61 motion") on April 17, 2012, which the
Superior Court refused on May 8, 2012 for being non-compliant
with Rule 61 (D.I. 20-1 at 10) Petitioner filed a new pro
se Rule 61 motion on May 22, 2012 alleging, inter
alia, claims that his plea was coerced, the State
engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, and defense counsel
provided ineffective assistance. (D.I. 17 at 3) On June 12,
2013, a Delaware Superior Court Commissioner issued a report
recommending that the Rule 61 motion be denied as
procedurally barred. Id.
on June 26, 2013, the Superior Court granted Petitioner's
request for the appointment of counsel. (D.I. 17 at 4) On
February 26, 2014, the Superior Court ordered appointed
counsel to either file an amended Rule 61 motion or to seek
to withdraw as counsel. Id. Post-conviction counsel
filed a motion to withdraw, which the Superior Court granted,
and Petitioner filed an amended Rule 61 motion on December
24, 2014. (D.I. 17 at 4, n. 8)
23, 2015, the Superior Court issued an order explaining that
it had improvidently granted Petitioner's request to
amend his Rule 61 motion after the Commissioner's June
2013 report, and concluded that the amended Rule 61 motion
should be treated as second Rule 61 motion. (D.I. 17 at 4) In
that same July 23, 2015 order, the Superior Court also: (1)
adopted the Commissioner's June 2013 report; (2) denied
Petitioner's first Rule 61 motion as both procedurally
barred and meritless; and (3) denied Petitioner's second
Rule 61 motion as time barred. (D.I. 17 at 4; D.I. 20-3 at
5-8; D.I. 20-4 at 4) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the
Superior Court's decision on March 17, 2016. See
Kane, 2016 WL 1165949, at *3.
2016, Petitioner filed the instant Petition asserting the
following grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided
ineffective assistance during all stages of the trial
proceedings (D.I. 1 at 14); (2) the Superior Court violated
Petitioner's due process right by failing to hold a
second competency hearing to assess his mental state before
accepting Petitioner's guilty plea (D.I. 4 at 7); (3)
Petitioner did not voluntarily and knowingly enter into the
plea because he was not competent to do so at the time (D.I.
4 at 9); (4) Petitioner was unable to assist defense counsel