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Ambrose Sykes - Delaware
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Thread: Ambrose Sykes - Delaware

  1. #1
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    Ambrose Sykes - Delaware




    Facts of the Crime:

    On November 7, 2004, Sykes raped and murdered retired teacher Virginia Trimnell. He then placed her bound and gagged body in a suitcase in the trunk of her car, and drove her car around for a few days before police pulled him over. Sykes escaped, and eluded police for more than three weeks before he was captured.

    Sykes was sentenced to death on September 20, 2006.

  2. #2
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    Sykes' direct appeal was denied on January 24, 2008. The US Supreme Court denied certiorari on October 20, 2008.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.a...s/07-11541.htm

    On February 2, 2009, Sykes filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/del...cv00076/41766/

  3. #3
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    Sykes v. Delaware

    Court: Delaware Supreme Court

    Opinion Date: January 30, 2015

    Appellant Ambrose Sykes appealed the Superior Court’s denial of his Motion for Post-conviction Relief. In 2006 Sykes was convicted by a jury of two counts of Murder in the First Degree, two counts of Rape in the First Degree, one count of Kidnapping in the First Degree, two counts of Burglary in the Second Degree, and other offenses. After a penalty phase hearing, the trial judge imposed the death penalty. On direct appeal, Sykes’ conviction and sentence were affirmed. In this appeal, Sykes raised five issues: (1) he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel in investigating, preparing and presenting mitigating evidence during his penalty-phase hearing; (2) trial counsel was ineffective by failing to argue that an erroneous comment which the trial judge made about allocution during the guilt phase of the trial violated his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury; (3) the trial judge committed error when he failed to remove Juror No. 9 from the jury after her impartiality was called into question during the guilt phase of the trial; (4) the State failed to prove Burglary, Rape and Kidnapping beyond a reasonable doubt; and (5) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move for a judgment of acquittal on the kidnapping charge on the grounds that the restraint of the victim was incidental to, and not independent of, restraint pertaining to the underlying rape charge. After review, the Supreme Court found no merit to any of these claims and affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court.
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  4. #4
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    Supreme Court vacates death sentences for Powell and 12 others

    DOVER — The Delaware Supreme Court ruled Thursday the death sentence for convicted murderer Derrick Powell must be vacated.

    Although the court specifically addressed Powell, it also said its August ruling of the unconstitutionality of the state’s capital punishment statute was a “watershed” one that must be applied retroactively.

    It appears, thus, that the other 12 men on death row will instead have their penalty changed to life in prison, although they may have to formally appeal their death convictions.

    Powell, sentenced to death in 2011 for the 2009 killing of Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer, was appealing his punishment after the court’s August ruling. Justices heard arguments last week and released their decision Thursday, unanimously concluding Powell could not be executed after being sentenced under a statute since thrown out.

    While the news was welcome for some, others disagreed.

    “I think justice for the family and justice for the victims of these crimes is definitely not being served by having these sentences that were duly handed down overturned, but that’s the system that we live in right now,” Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican who attended the hearing last week in support of the Spicer family, said Thursday.

    The August decision is a “watershed rule of criminal procedure,” meaning it meets the standard to apply retroactively, the justices wrote in their findings Thursday.

    Before the summer ruling, “the burden of proof was governed by the lesser standard of a preponderance of the evidence set forth in Delaware’s death penalty statute,” they wrote.

    In prior cases where the Delaware Supreme Court threw out the death penalty, justices ruled it applied retroactively, meaning the individuals on death row at the time had their sentences changed to life in prison.

    August’s ruling came about after a similar federal Supreme Court decision. Delaware justices found the state’s death penalty violated the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees right to a trial by jury. The law did not require the jury to rule unanimously on whether aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating factors and gave the judge final discretion to sentence death.

    Chief Public Defender Brendan O’Neill, whose office represented Powell when he was charged with murder, applauded the decision.

    “I think the Delaware Supreme Court made the right decision. He was sentenced to death under a death penalty scheme that was unconstitutional, so I think it appropriate that the court not allow the state to execute him,” he said.

    “No doubt Mr. Powell committed a horrible crime for which he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail but I think we need to keep in mind that five of the jurors who heard that case voted for a life sentence.”

    The Department of Justice declined to comment.

    Several justices appeared skeptical of the arguments set forth by the state last week, a fact noted by Sen. Pettyjohn, who said he “almost expected the ruling” handed down Thursday.

    While Delaware currently has no death penalty, 15 Republican lawmakers announced in August they intend to bring legislation to reinstate it. The House of Representatives voted down a repeal attempt last year, but the Senate may have the votes to block a bill bringing back capital punishment.

    Gov.-elect John Carney, a Democrat, said in October he would “probably” veto legislation reinstating capital punishment.

    http://delawarestatenews.net/news/su...and-12-others/

  5. #5
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    Supreme Court vacates death sentences for Powell and 12 others

    DOVER — The Delaware Supreme Court ruled Thursday the death sentence for convicted murderer Derrick Powell must be vacated.

    Although the court specifically addressed Powell, it also said its August ruling of the unconstitutionality of the state’s capital punishment statute was a “watershed” one that must be applied retroactively.

    It appears, thus, that the other 12 men on death row will instead have their penalty changed to life in prison, although they may have to formally appeal their death convictions.

    Powell, sentenced to death in 2011 for the 2009 killing of Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer, was appealing his punishment after the court’s August ruling. Justices heard arguments last week and released their decision Thursday, unanimously concluding Powell could not be executed after being sentenced under a statute since thrown out.

    While the news was welcome for some, others disagreed.

    “I think justice for the family and justice for the victims of these crimes is definitely not being served by having these sentences that were duly handed down overturned, but that’s the system that we live in right now,” Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican who attended the hearing last week in support of the Spicer family, said Thursday.

    The August decision is a “watershed rule of criminal procedure,” meaning it meets the standard to apply retroactively, the justices wrote in their findings Thursday.

    Before the summer ruling, “the burden of proof was governed by the lesser standard of a preponderance of the evidence set forth in Delaware’s death penalty statute,” they wrote.

    In prior cases where the Delaware Supreme Court threw out the death penalty, justices ruled it applied retroactively, meaning the individuals on death row at the time had their sentences changed to life in prison.

    August’s ruling came about after a similar federal Supreme Court decision. Delaware justices found the state’s death penalty violated the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees right to a trial by jury. The law did not require the jury to rule unanimously on whether aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating factors and gave the judge final discretion to sentence death.

    Chief Public Defender Brendan O’Neill, whose office represented Powell when he was charged with murder, applauded the decision.

    “I think the Delaware Supreme Court made the right decision. He was sentenced to death under a death penalty scheme that was unconstitutional, so I think it appropriate that the court not allow the state to execute him,” he said.

    “No doubt Mr. Powell committed a horrible crime for which he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail but I think we need to keep in mind that five of the jurors who heard that case voted for a life sentence.”

    The Department of Justice declined to comment.

    Several justices appeared skeptical of the arguments set forth by the state last week, a fact noted by Sen. Pettyjohn, who said he “almost expected the ruling” handed down Thursday.

    While Delaware currently has no death penalty, 15 Republican lawmakers announced in August they intend to bring legislation to reinstate it. The House of Representatives voted down a repeal attempt last year, but the Senate may have the votes to block a bill bringing back capital punishment.

    Gov.-elect John Carney, a Democrat, said in October he would “probably” veto legislation reinstating capital punishment.

    http://delawarestatenews.net/news/su...and-12-others/

  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Hartly man re-sentenced for killing elderly woman

    KENT COUNTY, Del. - A Hartly man convicted of raping and killing an elderly woman in Kent County more than a decade ago has been re-sentenced.

    Officials say Ambrose Sykes was re-sentenced to life without parole for strangling retired teacher Virginia Trimnell.

    Sykes was originally sentenced to death row. However, because Delaware's death penalty was overturned, a new sentencing date was set.

    http://www.wmdt.com/news/delaware/ha...oman/425010904
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  7. #7
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    Delaware High Court Rejects Convicted Murderer's Appeal

    The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that a man serving life without parole for the rape and murder of a 68-year-old woman has failed to offer any new evidence to prove his innocence.

    The Delaware State News reports that the court ruled against Ambrose Sykes's motion for post-conviction relief.

    Sykes, now in his 40s, was sentenced to death for the 2004 rape and strangulation of retired teacher Virginia Trimnell. Delaware abolished its death penalty in 2016, a decision that applied retroactively.

    The court said Sykes' lawyer raised "speculative and implausible theories" about how someone else could have been involved in the crime, and speculated that Sykes had a consensual relationship with the elderly woman without so much as a sworn statement from Sykes himself.

    (source: Associated Press)
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