Dabney v. State


11/28/07 – 11/28/07


Case Overview: Because the trial delay exceeded one year between arrest and incarceration to trial, the supreme court found that the length of delay required a consideration of the other Barker factors and found that the majority, if not all, of the lapse of time was attributable to the State, which had decided that DNA analysis was critical to its rape second degree case. The State did not explain why it waited almost four months to send DNA evidence for testing. The perpetrator's identity was never at issue. Defendant had confessed to companion charges. The rape second degree charges were the only counts of the indictment defendant contested (because he denied penetration, an essential element) and arguably the only reason for a trial. The DNA evidence was never necessary because that evidence could not prove penetration. The State's demand that it be available resulted in an unacceptable trial delay. Defendant preserved his speedy trial argument even if the specific words "right to a speedy trial" were not used. Because he was incarcerated during that period, he demonstrated prejudice, without having to address the impairment of his defense.

Proceedings Description: Defendant challenged a decision of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County, which convicted him of rape second degree, Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 772 (2006). Defendant claimed that delays in scheduling his trial on the single count violated his right to a speedy trial, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and Del. Const. art. I, § 7.

Outcome: The court reversed the conviction for rape second degree and remanded the case to the superior court for resentencing on the unchallenged companion convictions.



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