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State v. Sharpe

Superior Court of Delaware

January 10, 2020

JAIER SHARPE, Defendant.

          Submitted: December 2, 2019

         Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Transfer Charges to Family Court, DENIED.

          John S. Taylor, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for the State.

          Alicea A. Brown, Esquire and Tristan J. Karsnitz, Esquire, Assistant Public Defenders, Office of Defense Services, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for Defendant.




         The record before this Court reads like the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde[1] Defendant, young Jaier (or Mr. Sharpe), stands before this Court at age seventeen, facing charges including Attempted Robbery First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony ("PFDCF"), Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon and Possession, Purchase, Own or Control of a Firearm (Handgun) by a Prohibited Juvenile.[2] Defendant seeks transfer of his charges to Family Court under 10 Del. C. § 1011. Upon consideration of the reverse amenability hearing held on December 2, 2019, the parties' submissions, oral arguments, and the record in this case, Defendant's Motion to Transfer Charges to Family Court is DENIED.


         The underlying charges in this case relate to an attempted robbery that took place on March 31, 2019. On this day, a forty-five-year-old victim was in communication via an iPhone app with an individual who agreed to meet him in order to sell him a phone. The victim was directed to the area of 2424 Bowers Street and he went to the location accompanied by his seventeen-year-old son. The victim met with an individual described as a black male between the ages of seventeen and nineteen. The victim stated that upon arrival, another person appeared, brandished a firearm, and demanded money.

         The victim is a legally permitted firearm owner. Although alarmed, through his experience, he saw the individual rack the firearm twice and concluded that the firearm was not loaded. He then fled the scene and contacted the police. He described the firearm as a semi-automatic weapon with 100% certainty that the gun was empty.

         Through police investigation, recognizing that internet applications are sometimes used to solicit robberies, law enforcement analyzed the online account for this particular transaction. The website used created a GPS record yielding a distinct address. Through analyses of online accounts, the police determined that the suspect had an account from the area of Defendant's residence. A photographic array was shown to the victim who positively identified Defendant as the person who displayed the firearm and demanded the money. Defendant was arrested and charged, accordingly.

         Defendant moved to transfer his case to Family Court on June 10, 2019. On September 17, 2019, Defendant requested a continuance of his hearing in order to review records and decide whether an expert would be required. The hearing was rescheduled to December 2, 2019.

         The State called Matthew Reis of the Wilmington Police Department. The Defendant called Jennifer Wilson on behalf of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services ("YRS") of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families ("DSCYF"), and Dr. Laura Cooney-Koss, Psy.D. The parties then stipulated to the introduction of their respective reports. After considering the parties' submissions, arguments, and the evidence presented at the reverse amenability hearing, the matter is ripe for review.


         As stated, the underlying charges relate to an attempted robbery. However, the State portrays Defendant as a violent and dangerous individual. It asks the Court to consider that, although not charged, Mr. Sharpe has been a person of interest in violent and deadly gang-related feuds that have plagued the City of Wilmington.[4]

         In wild Jekyll/Hyde contrast, representatives from YRS-as well as the only expert that testified in this case-present a different picture of Jaier. He has excelled while in custody. Commended for achieving highest "Goldshirt" status for behavior while detained, not only do they recommend his return to the Family Court, they stress that Jaier can be rehabilitated through higher Level IV or V treatment and programming through YRS that he has yet to receive. Imploring the Court is also Jaier's strongest advocate-his Mother-a mother of six who holds down two jobs and clearly loves her son. Maternally, she further suggests that because she is an "activist with the kids," her willingness to allow people to flow in and out of her home has caused her son to find himself caught in the cross hairs of Wilmington Police investigations.

         In this Jekyll/Hyde quandary, the defense argues that to place Defendant in an adult facility would undoubtedly lead to the demise of young promising Jaier, while the State counters that failure to keep him monitored in this Court serves only to strengthen the more violent and dangerous Mr. Sharpe as he transitions into adulthood.


         The reverse amenability process is meant to identify those juveniles charged as adults who are amenable to the rehabilitative processes of the Family Court.[5] If the juvenile files a motion to transfer the adult charges, this Court must hold a reverse amenability hearing and weigh the four factors set forth in 10 Del. C. § 1011(b).[6]

         Under § 1011(b), the Court may consider evidence of: (1) "[t]he nature of the present offense and the extent and nature of the defendant's prior record, if any;"[7](2) "[t]he nature of past treatment and rehabilitative efforts and the nature of the defendant's response thereto, if any;"[8] (3) "[w]hether the interests of society and the defendant would be best served by trial in the Family Court or in the Superior Court[;]"[9] ...

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