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State v. Miles

Superior Court of Delaware

January 15, 2020

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
VON MILES Defendant.

          Submitted: December 20, 2019

          Erika R. Flaschner, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware.

          Von Miles, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, pro se.

          Michael C. Heyden, Esquire.

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

          Katharine L. Mayer, Commissioner.

         This 15th day of January, 2020, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Postconviction Relief, for the reasons that follow, it is hereby recommended that the motion be DENIED:

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 22, 2018, the driver of a Ford Expedition (the "Ford") led police officers on a high-speed chase onto 495 North into Pennsylvania. The Ford swerved several times towards the police vehicle nearly striking it. With the aid of GPS monitoring, Probation tracked Von Miles ("Defendant") traveling at 98 miles per hour on the same route as the pursuit. The next day, officers found Defendant in Wilmington, Delaware standing near a Jeep Cherokee (the "Jeep"). Defendant was arrested for violating his probation. Before conducting an administrative search[1] of the Jeep, and in response to safety concerns, law enforcement transported the Jeep to the police station. While opening the driver's side door, the Probation Officer observed materials he believed to be consistent with heroin and cocaine. A K9 Unit then searched the exterior of the vehicle and indicated the presence of drugs. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the Jeep and eventually located twenty (20) bags of heroin and approximately 3.9 grams of crack cocaine, as well as drug paraphernalia and cash in various denominations.

         On August 27, 2018, an Indictment issued charging Defendant with several offenses. Defendant's trial counsel ("Trial Counsel")[2] filed a Motion to Suppress (the "Suppression Motion") any evidence obtained from the searches. The State filed a Response to the Suppression Motion. On that same date, Defendant plead guilty. Pursuant to the Plea Agreement, Defendant agreed to plead guilty to Reckless Endangering First Degree, Criminal Contempt and Drug Dealing Heroin. In addition, the State and Defendant agreed to a recommended sentence and discharge of Defendant's pending violations of probation in four (4) separate cases. Defendant also executed the Truth-In-Sentencing Guilty Plea Form affirming that he was freely and voluntarily deciding to plead guilty, and that he understood that he was waiving his right to a trial, to challenge the State's case, and present evidence in his defense.

         On March 15, 2019, Defendant was sentenced, collectively, to thirteen (13) years and six (6) months at Level V, suspended after he served one (1) year at Level V with decreasing levels of supervision thereafter. The Court also discharged his remaining Level V and probationary time in four other cases.[3]

         On June 7, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief whereby he claims Trial Counsel was ineffective by:

(1) neglecting to advise defendant that the State did not have an Administrative Warrant, Search Warrant or probable cause before they entered the vehicle;
(2) failing to investigate the facts of the case fully & discuss it with the defendant to prepare an adequate defense or prepare for suppression;[4]
(3) failing to file a motion to have a Flowers[5] hearing so the State can disclose the informant identity-reliability and what information the informant has that can damage the case; and
(4) leaving defendant without a meaningful choice other than to plead guilty. Trial Counsel submitted an Affidavit[6] responding to the allegations and the State filed a Response in opposition. Defendant filed several replies in support of his motion and the matter is now ripe for decision.

         LEGAL ...


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