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Clark v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

January 14, 2020

JEFFREY CLARK, Defendant Below, Appellant
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

         Submitted November 6, 2019.

          Case Closed January 30, 2020.

         Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware. Cr. ID: N1503017606A.

         COUNSEL:

          Christopher S. Koyste, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Appellant.

          Abby L. Adams, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Appellee.

         Before VALIHURA, VAUGHN, and TRAYNOR, Justices.

         OPINION

          TRAYNOR, Justice:

          Jeffrey Clark and two of his associates, Rayshaun Johnson and Christopher Harris, were indicted on charges of murder in the first degree, conspiracy in the first degree, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, for their roles in the shooting death of Theodore " Teddy" Jackson. After Harris pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and entered into a cooperation agreement with the State, the Superior Court granted

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Clark's request that his case be tried separately from Johnson's. Johnson's case went to trial first, and a jury convicted him on all indicted charges. Then, after a nine-day trial in September 2017, a jury found Clark guilty of attempted assault in the second degree— purportedly a lesser-included offense of murder in the first degree, and conspiracy in the second degree, a lesser included offense of conspiracy in the first degree.

          Before he was sentenced, Clark moved the Superior Court " to enter a judgment of acquittal for the convicted counts of attempted assault in the second degree, reducing the counts of conviction to counts supported by the evidence; that is, attempted assault third degree and conspiracy third degree." [1] The court denied Clark's motion and eventually sentenced Clark to four years' incarceration, followed by descending levels of supervision.

          In this direct appeal, Clark makes a single claim— that despite the inescapable fact that Teddy Jackson, the only victim identified in the indictment, is dead, the State failed to present sufficient evidence at trial to support the jury's finding that Clark, at the time of the alleged crime, intended to cause " serious physical injury." And because intent to cause " serious physical injury," as opposed to mere " physical injury," is an element of attempted assault in the second degree, according to Clark, the Superior Court erred when it denied his post-trial motion for judgment of acquittal. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that Clark's claim is without merit, and we therefore affirm the Superior Court's judgments of conviction.

          Facts and Procedural History

          On April 3, 2014, a young man approached Doris Reyes, the mother of one of Clark's children, and delivered a threatening message intended for Clark. The young man referred to a " situation he had with [Clark] years ago" and told Reyes and her daughter, " When you see Jeff, say goodbye to him because that will be the last time you see him." [2] Reyes relayed the message to Clark by telephone, who became aggravated and upset upon hearing this news.[3] Clark was with co-defendants, Harris and Johnson, when he received the call from Reyes describing the threatening encounter.

          Harris testified that Clark appeared upset and irate, and wanted to find the man who made the threat so that he could " do something to him." [4] Clark believed that the young man who made the threat was named Kyle, and Clark " wanted to fight" him.[5] Clark told Reyes " not to worry," assuring her that " he wasn't going to let anything happen" to her or their child.[6] Clark explained that, " [i]f he had to take him in the middle of the street,

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fight him, then he would." [7] Reyes informed Clark that Kyle was wearing " Army fatigue pants and a black shirt, or black jacket." [8] Thereafter, Clark " took off running, looking for Kyle." [9]

          Clark, Johnson, and Harris spent the evening searching for Kyle. During their pursuit, they encountered Marcel Swanson at a nearby corner store. Clark asked Swanson about Kyle and explained that he had disrespected someone in his family. Swanson described Clark's demeanor during their interaction as " angry" and " real aggressive." [10] Swanson also noted that Clark was ...


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