Carter v. State


Oral Argument
08/22/07 – 08/22/07


Case Description: On July 9, 2006, Kulhanek returned to his home where he found his then 16 year old stepson, Carter.   Kulhanek became involved in a verbal altercation with Carter about Carter's leaving the family home the evening before without permission.   Carter went to his bedroom and slammed the door.   Kulhanek told Carter to stop slamming his bedroom door.   According to Kulhanek, Carter got into his “face,” so he pushed Carter into Carter's bedroom.   In Carter's bedroom, the confrontation continued, and Kulhanek again pushed Carter after he grabbed his lacrosse stick.   While Carter held his lacrosse stick, Kulhanek pushed Carter away a third time, after which Carter struck Kulhanek in the hand with the lacrosse stick.   Kulhanek then called the police.   When Carter attempted to leave the house, Kulhanek blocked the door and a wrestling match between Kulhanek and Carter ensued.Both Carter and Kulhanek testified at trial.   According to Kulhanek, following Carter's arrest, Kulhanek had his hand x-rayed and the results were negative.   Kulhanek complained, however, that his injured hand initially swelled up to “twice its normal size” and was still bothering him at the time of trial.   Carter, who testified in his own defense, admitted slamming his bedroom door on the day of the incident.   Carter recalled that Kulhanek pushed him harder and harder about three times, and after the third push, Carter hit Kulhanek in the hand with a lacrosse stick.   Both Carter and Kulhanek were yelling, and Carter testified that Kulhanek was “egging” him on and telling Carter to hit him.   Carter also explained that the part of the lacrosse stick which made contact with Kulhanek's hand was the plastic part that holds the netting.   After Carter struck Kulhanek with the lacrosse stick, Kulhanek allegedly said, “I got you now.”The State filed a Petition of Delinquency alleging that Carter committed second degree assault by intentionally striking Kulhanek's hand with a dangerous instrument.   At the conclusion of the State's case-in-chief, Carter moved for a judgment of acquittal.   The trial judge denied the motion, found Carter delinquent of second degree assault, and sentenced him to a period of probation in lieu of confinement at a secured detention facility.

Proceeding Description: The trial judge found Carter delinquent of second degree assault under 11 Del. C. § 612(a)(2) and found that the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Carter had (1) intentionally (2) caused physical injury to Kulhanek (3) by means of a dangerous instrument.   In this appeal, Carter contends that the State did not present sufficient evidence for the trial judge to find him delinquent of second degree assault beyond a reasonable doubt.

Outcome: The Supreme Court of Delaware ruled that evidence was insufficient to show that Carter committed second degree assault. The Supreme Court of Delaware reversed the trial court’s determination and remanded.


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