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State v. Campbell

Superior Court of Delaware

August 29, 2019


          Submitted: June 10, 2019

         On Defendant's Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief. DENIED.

          Daniel B. McBride, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Natalie S. Woloshin, Esquire, Woloshin, Lynch & Associates, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant.


          RICHARD R. COOCH, R.J.


         Shaquille Campbell ("Defendant") has filed an Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief. In his motion, Defendant asserts that his counsel for his attempted murder trial was ineffective in failing to employ a reasonable trial strategy. Specifically, Defendant contends that Trial Counsel failed to utilize "readily available evidence to undermine the credibility of the State's witnesses and support a finding of guilt of the lesser included offense [J"[1] The State contends that the record does not support Defendant's claims, and that Defendant's arguments do not overcome the Strickland presumption that a trial counsel's strategy is sound.[2]

         The Court finds that Defendant has not overcome the presumption that his Trial Counsel's strategy was sound and has not otherwise met the prongs of the Strickland analysis. While Defendant may not agree with Trial Counsel's decisions at trial, Defendant has not demonstrated that trial cousnel's choices fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. Accordingly, Defendant's motion is denied.


         On the night of July 8, 2015, on the 100 block of North Van Buren Street, Wilmington, Delaware, shots rang out in front of the La Flor Market. Police responded at about 10:45 p.m. and found Brian Bey shot and bleeding, but conscious. Medical personnel rushed Bey to Christiana Hospital. At the hospital, Bey told police that the incident had occurred so fast that he could not remember what happened. A witness, Waynetta Wilson, told police that she heard three gunshots, but did not see the shooter or know why Bey was shot. Although neither knew the identity of the shooter, both Bey and Wilson identified Defendant Shaquille Campbell from a photo array on July 13, 2015.

         At trial, both Wilson and Bey testified with more detail than they gave in their prior statements to police. Wilson testified that on the night of July 8, an "unknown man got into a verbal altercation with her cousin Kiki when Bey stepped in and challenged the man to a fight."[3] Wilson testified that the unknown man then left the area, returned with a gun, and pointed it at Bey. The man attempted to fire the gun, but the gun jammed. After clearing the gun, the man shot Bey "three to four times while Bey was running behind a car."[4] At trial, Wilson identified Defendant as the shooter but admitted she did not know his identity the night of the shooting. Bey's testimony was largely in line with Wilson's. Bey witnessed a verbal altercation between Wilson's cousin Kiki and the unknown man. Bey stepped in to challenge the man to a fight. The man left the area, returned with a gun, pointed it at Bey and attempted to shoot him. The gun jammed, and Bey "turned away from the shooter and was crossing the street" when the man cleared the gun and fired at Bey four times.[5] Bey testified that he identified Defendant as the shooter five days after the shooting, and Bry identified the Defendant in the courtroom.

         Beyond Wilson's and Bey's testimony, the State entered into evidence a surveillance video of the shooting and Bey's medical records from his time at the hospital. The surveillance video corroborated much of Wilson's and Bey's description of the shooting. The medical records confirmed police testimony that, when questioned at the hospital, Bey could not remember "exactly what happened" on North Van Buren Street.[6] However, the medical records also indicated that Bey gave an additional statement at the hospital, claiming that he was "minding his own business talking with friends when [Defendant] started shooting."[7] Bey testified that he "lost four pints of blood that night, ... probably died on [his] way to the hospital from loss of blood[, ]" and that the bullet was inches from a main artery.[8] Bey's medical records do not appear to directly support his claims, although the records do not appear to directly refute his claims either. The records have no indication as to how much blood he lost, no indication that he lost consciousness or that he had to be revived in the ambulance, and no indication that the bullet was mere inches from one of his main arteries.

         Throughout trial, the underlying theme and basis of Defendant's defense was misidentification.[9] Defendant had continuously maintained his innocence throughout the investigation and the criminal proceedings, and Trial Counsel argued that Bey misidentified Defendant as the shooter. To support this argument, Trial Counsel sought to undermine the credibility of Bey. On cross-examination Trial Counsel highlighted Bey's drug use the night of the incident, and argued that Bey's blood tests came back positive for PCP and marijuana. The drug evidence was apparently a vital aspect of Trial Counsel's strategy. For instance, in closing arguments, Trial Counsel argued that Bey "made statements the evidence shows were not correct ... So the primary State's witness[, ] that says [Defendant] was the man in the video[, ] is a felon that [sic] was high on PCP and marijuana at the time."[10]

         On the last day of trial, Trial Counsel revealed to the Court that on July 21, 2015, after Defendant was indicted, Bey and Wilson allegedly provided statements to a defense investigator that were inconsistent with their prior identifications of Defendant and their trial testimony. Allegedly, Bey told the defense investigator that he was still taking medication when he spoke to police at the police station, that he had felt pressured to identify someone, and that he would be unable to identify Defendant because he had no knowledge of him. Allegedly, Wilson told the defense investigator that she was not with Bey when he was shot and that she did not see who shot Bey. Defendant "insisted" that these out-of-court statements be admitted.[11]

         The State proffered that in rebuttal to the Defendant's evidence it would seek to admit evidence of witness intimidation, including an undated incident in which several individuals in a white BMW pulled up to Bey and threatened Bey's daughter if Defendant did not "come home[.]"[12] The State further claimed that Bey and Wilson had told the State that the statements they made to the defense investigator were false and that they only provided such statements because they feared retaliation from Defendant's alleged associates. Further, the State sought to introduce text messages and phone calls, allegedly from Defendant's associates, Bey and Wilson received the day before trial commenced encouraging them not to appear for trial.[13]

         The Court ruled that only evidence of witness intimidation that occurred before the alleged statements to the defense investigator would be admissible. Thereafter, Trial Counsel and the State entered into an agreement whereby Trial Counsel would not introduce Bey's and Wilson's alleged prior out-of-court statements, and the State would not introduce any evidence of witness intimidation. The jury never learned of Bey's and Wilson's discussion with the defense investigator or of the apparent acts of witness intimidation.

         Trial Counsel sought and received a jury instruction for the lesser-included offense of Assault First Degree. Trial Counsel did not argue that the Defendant lacked the intent to kill Bey based on the extent of Bey's wounds. Instead, Trial Counsel focused on the theory of misidentification, stressing Bey's inability to remember the incident and his failure to identify the Defendant until days later upon insistence of the police.[14] Ultimately, however, the jury found Defendant guilty of Attempted Murder First Degree, Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited. Defendant was later sentenced to a total of seventeen years at level five incarceration. On May 8, 2017, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentences on direct appeal.[15] Defendant filed his original Motion for Postconviction Relief pro se on September 26, 2017. Defendant's subsequently appointed postconviction counsel filed an Amended Motion for Postconviciton Relief on August 10, 2018.

         As part of the briefing for Defendant's motion, the Court requested that Defendant's Trial Counsel submit an affidavit addressing Defendant's motion. Trial Counsel's affidavit detailed his conduct, his trial strategy, and his reasoning behind the choices Defendant's motion attacked. In the pertinent part, Defendant's Trial Counsel's states:

4. Counsel denies the first allegation that failure to undermine Bey's credibility with medical records was not a sound, tactical decision. The overriding theme of Counsel's defense was that of misidentifi cation of the shooter. The fact that Mr. Bey was shot could not intelligently be contested considering the video and medical records. [Defendant] has always maintained his innocence to counsel. Mr. Bey, as shown by the transcripts, was relatively late in identifying [Defendant] as the shooter. If Mr. Bey wanted to testify that he was not cognizant and badly injured because of the injuries of the shooting counsel could use that to undermine his later identification. Counsel did point to medical records that Mr. Bey's blood tests came back positive for pep [sic] and marijuana which is contained in the medical records.
5. Counsel denies the second allegation that he did not use the medical records to argue for a lesser included charge of Assault 1st. Though counsel did want a lesser included instruction, counsel did not like to strenuously argue two opposing, contradicting defenses. The deliberate focus was on misidentification and that [Defendant] was not the shooter. By giving ample argument to a lesser included it would appear to be conceding [Defendant's] guilt. Furthermore, there was a video of the actual shooting that was shown to the jury which counsel felt would influence the jury's thoughts on intent more than any injuries that actually occurred from the shooting.
6. Counsel denies that he was ineffective in not introducing the witness recantations. In the case at hand there were numerous allegations of witness tampering other than the one involving the white BMW. Many of these allegations occurred after the recantations were given to the investigator. Counsel was told that calls and texts from [Defendant's] friends and family were sent to Bey and Wilson even as a Deputy Attorney General was meeting with them. After lengthy discussions with the State, counsel came to an agreement with the State that no allegations of witness tampering would come into trial if the recantations were not introduced. Counsel was also cognizant that Bey and Wilson would have had an opportunity to explain their recantation on the stand if they were introduced.[16]

         The State filed its Response to Defendant's motion and Trial Counsel's affidavit on February 5, 2019. After the Court granted several extension requests, Defendant replied on June 10, 2019.


         A. Defendant's Contentions.

         Defendant's overarching argument is that Trial Counsel's conduct was ineffective and "devoid of any sound tactical reasoning."[17] Specifically, Defendant first contends that Trial Counsel failed to utilize Bey's medical records to undermine Bey's credibility and testimony. Defendant argues that most of Bey's testimony was "hyperbole and belied by his own medical records."[18] Defendant contends that Bey's testimony that he lost consciousness in the ambulance was untruthful, and that Bey's medical records do not reference loss of consciousness at all. Further, Defendant argues that Bey's statement to the police that a bullet narrowly missed one of his vital arteries is unsupported by his medical records. Defendant contends that it "belies logic" that Trial Counsel would not use these alleged inconsistencies to undermine the credibility of Bey.[19] If Trial Counsel's strategy ultimate strategy was to undermine Bey's credibility[20] then Trial Counsel, according to Defendant, had no strategic reason not to confront Bey with apparent over-exaggerations and untruths relating to his injuries.[21] Defendant argues that Trial Counsel's failure to confront Bey with his medical records fell below the objective standard of reasonable attorney conduct.

         Second, Defendant contends that Trial Counsel was ineffective by failing to utilize Bey's medical records to argue for the lesser-included offense of Assault First Degree. Defendant argues that Trial Counsel should have utilized the medical records demonstrate that the severity, or lack thereof, of Bey's injuries supported a lesser-included offense. For example, Defendant contends that Bey was not shot in any vital area, which would-had Trial Counsel argued the point to the jury- suggested a lack of an intent to kill. Further, Defendant argues that the State in closing arguments specifically relied on the alleged severity of Bey's injuries to demonstrate intent to kill.[22] Defendant argues that the medical records were vital to contradict the State's argument and that the records supported a lesser-included charge. Therefore, Defendant reasons that Trial Counsel's non-use of the records fell below the objective standard of reasonable attorney conduct.

         Third, Defendant argues that Trial Counsel failed to introduce into evidence Bey's and Wilson's recantations to the defense investigator. At trial, Trial Counsel did broach the potential admission of the recantations. In response, the State stated that it would proffer evidence of witness intimidation, and Trial Counsel decided not to introduce evidence of the recantations to avoid introduction of the State's evidence. Defendant contends that there was no evidence of witness intimidation that occurred before the recantations, and therefore no evidence would have come in had the recantations been introduced. Coupled with Trial Counsel's apparent concession-according to Defendant-that many of the allegations of intimidation would have been inadmissible, [23] Defendant argues that Trial Counsel's strategy was not a reasonable, tactical decision.

         Lastly, Defendant contends that not only an evidentiary hearing on his claims desirable, but that this Court "must" grant an evidentiary hearing on his claims.[24]Defendant contends that this Court will only be in a position to "fully appreciate the issues and to appropriately apply the standards set forth by the United State Supreme Court" after an evidentiary hearing.[25]

         B. The ...

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