DOVER — A convicted marijuana dealer was rebuffed in an attempt to reduce a 10-year prison sentence based on misdeeds by the now-defunct Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Edward L. Rust’s 2012 guilty plea held up because he earlier waived impeachment evidence rights and his motion missed a filing deadline, Kent County Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. noted in a 12-page order.
Widespread misconduct at the OCME was exposed two years after Rust’s plea and he questioned drug evidence testing by forensic chemists in his case.
“Poor evidence handling, while a serious concern, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for every defendant,” Judge Witham concluded.
“Defendants are bound by their statements during a plea … and cannot reopen their cases ‘to make claims that do not address [their guilt], and involve impeachment evidence that would only be relevant at trial.”
On Aug. 8, 2012, Rust was sentence to 25 years Level V incarceration, suspended after 10 years followed by six months at Level IV home confinement followed by one year at Level III.
A motion for post-conviction relief must be filed within one year of a plea and sentencing. Rust did not prove that the time mandate was inapplicable to him in his claim, the Court decided.
Rust maintained that his guilty plea was tainted because he was unaware of OCME issues at the time. Judge Witham, however, reasoned, “This Court is bound to reject that assertion under the clear precedent established by our Supreme Court.”
Also, the defendant could not argue that if he knew of the OCME problems a guilty plea to illegally possessing narcotics would not have been entered, according to the Court when citing case law.
“There can be no question on this record that Mr. Rust’s plea was made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily,” Judge Witham stated.
“When asked by the Superior Court judge whether he was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty, he responded in the affirmative. And at his sentencing, Mr. Rust expressly identified the substance he dealt as ‘pot’… ”
The judge said Rust’s “attempt to distinguish his case from all the contrary cases decided by our Supreme Court falls far short of the mark. …”
Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at email@example.com