United States District Court, D. Delaware
Brendan O'Neill, Office of Defense Services for the State
of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Petitioner.
L. Arban, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Respondents.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
before the Court is a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition")
filed by petitioner Ronaldo Williams
("Petitioner"). (D.I. 2) The State filed an Answer
in opposition, (D.I. 11), and Petitioner filed a Reply (D.I.
15). For the following reasons, the Court will deny the
petition as barred by the one-year limitations period
prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.
October 16, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to drug dealing
(heroin) with the aggravating factor of having been within
300 feet of a park. (D.I. 11 at 1) On April 26, 2013 Superior
Court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender to nine
years of Level V imprisonment. (D.I. 11 at 1-2) Petitioner
did not file a direct appeal.
17, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion to receive credit for
time previously served, which the Superior Court denied on
June 24, 2103. Petitioner filed a motion to correct his
sentence on June 25, 2013, which the Superior Court denied on
July 8, 2013. Petitioner did not appeal these decisions.
(D.I. 11 at 2)
filed a motion for sentence modification on August 27, 2014,
which the Superior Court granted on September 27, 2014,
thereby prompting the issuance of a modified sentence order
on September 18, 2014. The modified sentence permitted
Petitioner to participate in inpatient treatment while
incarcerated. (D.I. 11 at 2 n.4)
March 11, 2015, Delaware's Office of Defense Services
("OPD") filed a motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
("Rule 61 motion), which the Superior Court denied on
July 27, 2015. (D.I. 11 at 2) The Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed that decision on December 14, 2015. See Williams
v. State, 129 A.3d 883 (Table), 2015 WL 8979037 (Del.
Dec. 14, 2015).
September 23, 2016, the OPD filed a federal habeas Petition
on Petitioner's behalf, asserting the following two
grounds for relief: (1) the Delaware Supreme Court
unreasonably applied Brady v. United States, 397
U.S. 742, 748 (1970) when denying Petitioner's due
process argument that his guilty plea was involuntary; and
(2) the Delaware Supreme Court made unreasonable findings of
fact regarding the misconduct at the Delaware Office of the
Medical Examiner ("OCME"). (D.I. 7) The State filed
an Answer asserting that the Petition should be denied as
time-barred or, alternatively, because the claims are
meritless. (D.I. 11) Petitioner filed a Reply arguing that
the Petition should be deemed timely filed through the
application of equitable tolling and that the claims warrant
relief under § 2254(d)(1) and (2). (D.I. 15 at 7-17)
OCME Criminal Investigation
relevant information regarding the OCME evidence mishandling
is set forth below:
In February 2014, the Delaware State Police ("DSP")
and the Department of Justice ("DOJ") began an
investigation into criminal misconduct occurring in the
Controlled Substances Unit of the OCME.
The investigation revealed that some drug evidence sent to
the OCME for testing had been stolen by OCME employees in
some cases and was unaccounted for in other cases. Oversight
of the lab had been lacking, and security procedures had not
been followed. One employee was accused of "dry
tabbing" (or declaring a test result without actually
conducting a test of the evidence) in several cases. Although
the investigation remains ongoing, to date, three OCME
employees have been suspended (two of those employees have
been criminally indicted), and the Chief Medical Examiner has
There is no evidence to suggest that OCME employees tampered
with drug evidence by adding known controlled substances to
the evidence they received for testing in order to achieve
positive results and secure convictions. That is, there is no
evidence that the OCME staff "planted" evidence to
wrongly obtain convictions. Rather, the employees who stole
the evidence did so because it ...