Vanlier v. Carroll

Decision Date20 February 2008
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 05-763-GMS.
Citation535 F.Supp.2d 467
PartiesShawn Hosea VANLIER, Petitioner, v. Thomas L. CARROLL, Warden, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Delaware

Shawn Hosea Vanlier. Pro se petitioner.

Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, DE, for respondent.


SLEET, Chief Judge.


Petitioner Shawn Hosea Vanlier ("Vanlier") is an inmate at the Delaware Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. Vanlier filed the pending application for a writ of habeas corpus ("petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (D.I. 2.) For the reasons discussed, the court will dismiss his petition.


Around 12:30 a.m. on September 9, 1998, a female ("SS") left her home to walk to a 7-11 convenience store to purchase some snacks and tobacco products. On her way to the store, a male stranger greeted SS, saying "hey." SS responded by saying "hey," and continued on to the store. After making her purchases, SS began walking back to her home along the same route she took to reach the 7-11. SS encountered the same stranger near a train overpass, who again said "hey" and asked the woman if she knew "Jose." SS responded that Jose might be out with his girlfriend, but that she did not know the girlfriend's name. The conversation ended, and SS slowed her pace so that the stranger would go on ahead of her because he was now walking in the same direction as she. The stranger walked up to the steps of a nearby residence as if to go to the doorbell, and SS walked past him.

As soon as SS passed the stranger, he stepped behind her and asked her if she had boyfriend. SS responded that she did. The stranger asked if she "messed around." SS replied in the negative, and the stranger responded, `Well, you're going to mess around tonight." The stranger then grabbed SS around her neck with his arm so that she could not scream, dragged her down the embankment under a railroad bridge, and threw her to the ground. The stranger then began to pull SS by her legs along the ground under the bridge. He struck SS several times about the head to force her to release hand-holds that she managed to get on the ground. Once underneath the bridge, the stranger climbed on top of SS, choked her, and threatened to kill her. SS eventually went limp and submitted, removing one of her pant legs. The stranger then attempted vaginal intercourse, although SS was unsure whether he actually penetrated her or ejaculated. Once the stranger stopped, he stated, "Was that so bad? Now put your jeans on. You can go home."

After the stranger departed, SS ran up the embankment in her bare feet. She managed to flag down a passing ambulance by jumping in front of the vehicle. SS advised the paramedics that she had been sexually assaulted and, they transported her to Christiana Care Hospital for treatment and examination. SS described her assailant as a black male, approximately 5'10", 165 lbs., who was wearing a blue shirt with the word "Delaware" printed on it. SS also stated that the assailant was wearing a brimmed hat, which the police later located under the bridge.

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner treated SS when she arrived at Christiana Care. The examination of SS revealed eyes that were red and swollen from crying, cuts to the corner and inside of her mouth, redness on the back of her neck and behind her right ear, scrapes to her left scapula, scratches to her flank area, scrapes and scratches to her left hand and arm, two broken finger nails on her right hand, scrapes to her right upper thigh, and numerous scrapes and scratches on her lower legs. The exam also revealed significant amounts of dirt and debris around her labia, as well as soreness to her labia. SS's clothing had dirt and leaf stains, as well as rips and tears to the fabric.

The police presented SS with two photo arrays; the, first array contained six photos, and the second array contained eight photos, one of which was of Vanlier. SS did not identify her attacker from the first array, but she immediately and unequivocally identified Vanlier as her assailant when presented with the second array.

Based on SS's description of her assailant, the police developed Vanlier as a suspect. After obtaining an arrest warrant and a search warrant, the police officers went VI Vanlier's room at the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington to obtain some of Vanlier's personal items. The police found two shirts that read "Delaware Moving and Storage." While in Vanlier's presence, the police stated that they had found a hat linking him to the crime. Vanlier then said, "If you can tell me how you guys did this from a hat, I'll confess." (D.I. 15, App. to State's Ans. Br. in Vanlier v. State, No. 96,2005, at B-15.)

The police arrested Vanlier on September 9, 1998. See State v. Vanlier, 2004 WL 692633, at *1 (Del.Super.Ct. Mar. 22, 2004). On October 13, 1998, a New Castle County grand jury returned an indictment charging Vanlier with attempted first degree rape, first degree kidnaping, second degree reckless endangering, and third degree assault. Soon after Vanlier's arrest, the police sent hair, samples and other evidence to a FBI forensic lab for testing. In September 1999, the State received an initial DNA report inculpating Vanlier. However, on November 15, 1999, the State received a final mitochondrial DNA report which excluded Vanlier as the source of any of the hair found on the evidence. The defense planned to use the DNA evidence to support its theory of mistaken identification. The State opposed the introduction of the DNA evidence, and filed a motion in limine in June 2000. The parties eventually entered a stipulation stating, "The evidence in this case was collected and preserved and sent to the FBI laboratory. There is no forensic evidence that ties the defendant to the crime." (D.I. 15, Appendix to Appellant's Op. Br. in Vanlier v. State, No. 287,2001, at A-43.)

A three day jury trial commenced in the Delaware Superior Court in March 2001. SS testified for the State, and described the details of her attack and her identification of Vanlier from the photo arrays. Several police officers who investigated the rape scene also testified at trial. Detective Rogers, the chief investigator, described his interviews with SS, the method for collecting evidence, and his investigation of Vanlier as a suspect.

Other evidence introduced at trial established that Vanlier had been a regular employee of a temporary employment agency called Labor Ready, Labor Ready's business records showed that Vanlier had recently been assigned to work for Delaware Moving and Storage. Vanlier routinely wore a fedora, and Labor Ready's bookkeeper unequivocally identified the fedora found at the crime scene as the unique hat that Vanlier wore on a daily basis to work.

Vanlier did not testify, and the defense did not offer any other witnesses. The stipulation regarding the lack of forensic evidence was read to the jury.

The jury convicted Vanlier of all, charges, and the Superior Court sentenced Vanlier to a total of 27 years incarceration followed by probation for the balance of his life. See Vanlier v. State, 813 A.2d 1142 (Table), 2002 WL 31883016 (Del. 2002). On January 2, 2002, Vanlier's defense counsel filed an opening appellate brief and appendix, and a motion to withdraw under Delaware. Supreme Court Rule 26(c). The State filed a motion to affirm on January 10, 2002. The Delaware Supreme Court denied the State's motion and appointed new counsel for Vanlier. Vanlier's new counsel filed an opening brief advancing two arguments: (1) Vanlier was denied his right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment; and (2) the Superior Court judge should have dismissed the case sua sponte under Criminal Rule 48 due to the unreasonable delay in prosecution. See generally Vanlier, 2002 WL 31883016. The Delaware Supreme Court denied Vanlier's arguments as meritless and affirmed his conviction and sentence. Id.

Thereafter, acting-pro se, Vanlier filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") alleging: (1) there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction; (2) the police committed errors during the investigation and a police officer committed perjury at trial; (3) the jury verdict was the result of prejudice against him due to his race, homelessness, and indigence; (4) the jury instructions were improper; (5) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (6) the two and one-half year delay between his arrest and trial violated Vanlier's right to a speedy trial. In March, 2004, the Superior Court issued a preliminary order denying five of the six claims as procedurally, defaulted and meritless, and also ordering an expansion of the record with respect to Vanlier's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. State v. Vanlier, 2004 WL 692633 (Del.Super.Ct. Mar. 22, 2004). Vanlier filed an interlocutory appeal, which the Delaware Supreme. Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Vanlier v, State, 850 A.2d 303 (Table), 2004 WL 1314831, at *1 (Del. June 8, 2004). On February 10, 2005, after reviewing trial counsel's Rule 61 affidavit, the Superior Court held that Vanlier's is effective assistance of counsel claim was meritless, and denied the Rule 61 motion in its entirety. State v. Vanlier, ID# 9809006423, Final Order (Del. Feb. 10, 2005). Vanlier appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's judgment. Vanlier v. State, 884 A.2d 512 (Table), 2005 WL 2254231 (Del. Sept. 16, 2005).

Vanlier filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (D.I. 2.) The State filed an answer arguing that the petition must be denied. (D.I. 13.) Vanlier's petition is now ready for review,


To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Taylor v. May
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Delaware
    • March 31, 2022
    ... ... verdict, the trial court has "wide discretion" to ... determine the appropriate procedure to assess it. See ... Reed v. Carroll, 2005 WL 2086745, at *7 (D. Del. Aug ... 26, 2005). It is well-settled that "voir dire ... provides a means of discovering actual or ... Ryan, 572 F.Supp.2d 528, 534 (D. Del ... 2008); Yost v. Williams, 572 F.Supp.2d 491, 496 n.3 ... (D.Del. 2008); VanLier v. Carroll, 535 F.Supp.2d ... 467, 474 (D. Del. 2008); Mills v. Carroll, 515 ... F.Supp.2d 463, 468 (D.Del. 2007); Zuppo v. Carroll, ... ...
  • VANLIER v. Warden
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • June 17, 2010
    ...with VanLier's failure to demonstrate prejudice... the Delaware Supreme Court did not unreasonably apply Barker." VanLier v. Carroll, 535 F. Supp. 2d 467, 483 (D. Del. 2008). For the reasons given by the District Court, we conclude that the result reached by the Delaware Supreme Court was n......
  • Mercado v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • August 28, 2015
    ...delay weighs against the Commonwealth, the three-month delay weighs only slightly in Mercado's favor. See Vanlier v. Carroll, 535 F.Supp.2d 467, 481-82 (D. Del. 2008). The third factor we must consider is whether the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial. As previously noted Mercad......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT