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State v. Williams

Superior Court of Delaware

September 19, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
ASA WILLIAMS, Defendant.

          Submitted: August 30, 2019

         COMMISSIONER'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD BE DENIED.

          Jenna R. Milecki, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for the State.

          Asa Williams, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, pro se.

          Elliot M. Margules, Esquire

          LYNNE M. PARKER, COMMISSIONER

         This 19th day of September 2019, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, it appears to the Court that:

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         1. On November 27, 2017, a New Castle County grand jury indicted Asa Williams on two counts of Rape in the First Degree, and one count each of Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree, Terroristic Threatening, Malicious Interference with Emergency Communications and Resisting Arrest. Williams faced a minimum-mandatory sentence of 15 years of incarceration and a maximum sentence of life in prison for each of the rape counts.

         2. On May 16, 2018, Williams entered into a Robinson plea thereby pleading guilty to one count of Rape in the Third Degree (as a lesser-included offense), one count of Resisting Arrest, and one count of Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree. As part of the plea agreement, the parties agreed to jointly recommend a 2 5-year prison sentence, suspended after three years (of which the first two years was a minimum-mandatory sentence), followed by decreasing levels of probation. In addition, as part of the plea, the State agreed to dismiss all the remaining charges of the indictment.[1]

         3. The Plea Agreement expressly provided that Williams would be required to register as a Tier III Sex Offender.[2]

         4. Williams was immediately sentenced to a 25-year prison sentence, suspended after three years, for decreasing levels of probation. At the time of sentencing, the Superior Court expressly stated that Williams was required to register as a Tier III sex offender.[3] The Sentencing Order likewise expressly included this requirement.[4]

         5. Williams did not file a direct appeal from his convictions or sentence to the Delaware Supreme Court.

         6. On June 27, 2018, Williams filed a motion for sentence reduction or modification. The Superior Court denied the motion on October 16, 2018.[5] The Superior Court reasoned that following a thorough review of the merits of Williams' request, the original sentence was appropriate for the reasons stated at the time it was rendered.[6]

         WILLIAMS' RULE 61 MOTION

         7. On January 25, 2019, Williams filed the subject Rule 61 motion. In the subject motion, Williams raised claims attacking the factual basis for the charges and his plea. Williams also raised an ineffective assistance of counsel claim contending that his counsel coaxed and/or coerced him into entering into his plea and that he was not informed that he would have to register as a Tier III sex offender.

         8. The record was enlarged and Williams' trial counsel was directed to submit an Affidavit responding to Williams' ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Thereafter, the State filed a response to the motion. Williams was given the opportunity to file a reply thereto.[7]

         9. After briefing was completed, this motion was referred to the undersigned Commissioner to assist in the resolution of the motion.

         Williams' Claims Challenging the Factual Basis for the Charges

         10. Williams' claims challenging the factual basis for the charges and his plea were waived upon the entry of his plea. These claims are also procedurally barred and are also without merit.

         11. It is well settled that a knowing and voluntary guilty plea waives a defendant's right to challenge any errors, deficiencies or defects occurring before the entry of the plea.[8]

         12. In the subject action, the Truth-in-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form, Plea Agreement and plea colloquy reveal that Williams knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered a Robinson plea. A Robinson plea operates as a guilty plea.[9]

         13. Prior to the entry of Williams' plea, the State set forth the factual basis for the charges and the plea. Specifically, the State advised that on the date and time stated in the indictment, Williams had invited an associate, someone he had met before, the victim in this case, over to have consensual sexual intercourse, which they had had on a previous occasion.[10]

         14. At some point during the consensual intercourse, the victim indicated to Williams that she no longer wanted to engage in that conduct, at which time Williams became upset. He struck her with a belt, bite her on the arm, causing injury, and placed his hands around her neck, and then forced her to continue to engage in sexual contact, including sexual penetration, without her consent and against her will.[11]

         15. During that altercation, the victim made several attempts to leave the apartment, but Williams prevented her from doing so.[12] Finally, when the police were contacted by the victim, they did arrive, and in the process of attempting to arrest Williams, he resisted arrest.[13]

         16. At the time of the plea, the State represented that Williams was being permitted to enter into a Robinson plea, in which he would be deemed guilty but would not have to admit his guilt, [14] because when the police arrived Williams was so intoxicated it took several minutes and ambulance crews to revive him. ...


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