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State v. Dorsett

Superior Court of Delaware

June 17, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
DEVONTE DORSETT, Defendant.

          Kevin O'Connell, Esq., Elliot M. Margules, Esq.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Eric M. Davis, Judge

         This is the Court's decision on whether the Court should find Devonte Dorsett guilty, but mentally ill ("GBMI") under 11 Del. C. § 401(b) and sentence Mr. Dorsett under 11 Del. C. § 408(a). After considering all the evidence, testimony and submissions, the Court finds that it is not satisfied, under the facts presented, that Mr. Dorsett had a mental illness at the time of the offenses which would support a GBMI plea.

         BACKGROUND

         Factual Background

         On May 24, 2018, Mr. Dorsett plead guilty to Murder Second Degree, Robbery First Degree and two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. The Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation. At the time of the plea, Mr. Dorsett maintained that the facts of his case supported a finding that he was GBMI under 11 Del. C. § 401(b). Mr. Dorsett is seeking sentencing under 11 Del. C. § 408(b).

         According to the criminal file in this case, the victim was found lying face down on the floor of his store, Lancaster Market, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the back of his head shortly after 1:00 p.m. on January 9, 2017. Unknown persons flagged down an emergency medical services unit and Wilmington Police Department ("WPD") officers arrived on scene. The WPD officers found the paramedics performing CPR on the victim. The paramedics transported the victim to the hospital. After arriving at the hospital, the victim was pronounced dead.

         Evidence at the store indicated a robbery gone awry, with the cash drawer open and change scattered on the counter and floor. WPD officers located a spent .45 caliber shell casing and projectile. During the course of the resulting investigation, a witness was located and two suspects: Mr. Dorsett and a minor were identified.

         The Court had previously issued a capias for the arrest of Mr. Dorsett due to a purported violation of probation. Officers from Operation Safe Streets located Mr. Dorsett the day after the robbery and, after a brief foot chase, Mr. Dorsett was taken into custody. Officers found a loaded .45 caliber Glock 30 semi-automatic pistol, with 1 round in the chamber, and an extended magazine with 18 additional rounds on Mr. Dorsett. Mr. Dorsett, who was on probation for a conviction for Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon, was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

         WPD officers located and arrested the minor. The minor agreed to speak to a WPD detective. During the interview, the minor stated that he and Mr. Dorsett had entered the store and demanded that the victim give them the money from the register. According to the minor, Mr. Dorsett and the victim struggled for control of Mr. Dorsett's gun. During the struggle, Mr. Dorsett shot the victim in the head.

         The records indicated that Mr. Dorsett was given his Miranda rights and made a statement. In that statement, Mr. Dorsett admitted to shooting the victim, claiming it was an accident that happened during a struggle while the robbery was going bad. Mr. Dorsett has also made incriminating statements regarding his possession of the firearm. Mr. Dorsett was intoxicated at the time of the offenses.

         Record Considered

         The "trier of facts" makes the determinations relating to GBMI.[1] Because Mr. Dorsett desires to enter a plea of GMBI, the Court is the trier of fact.[2] The Court considered the following:

• Letter, dated October 10, 2018, from Kevin O'Connell, Esq., to the Honorable Eric M. Davis;
• The treatment records of Mr. Dorsett provided with the Letter, dated October 10, 2018, from Kevin O'Connell, Esq., to the Honorable Eric M. Davis;
• The Report, dated June 5, 2018, of John K. Northrop, M.D., Ph.D.;
• The Report of Joseph H. Wright, Ph.D.;
• The Report of Douglas S. Roberts, Psy.D.;
• The testimony of Dr. Northrup and Dr. Roberts presented by the parties at the hearing (the "Hearing") held by the Court on December 19, 2018. The witnesses provided direct testimony and were subject to cross-examination and questions from the Court.
• The Defendant, Devonte Dorsett's Opening Memorandum in Support of a Finding that He is Guilty But Mentally Ill. filed by Mr. Dorsett;
• The Letter, dated February 7, 2019, from Daniel B. McBride, DAG, to the Honorable Eric M. Davis;
• The Letter, dated February 20, 2019, from Kevin O'Connell, Esq., and Elliot M. Margules, Esq., to the ...

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