Dover merchant’s assault conviction upheld

DOVER — A downtown Dover merchant’s conviction for fleeing police and causing an injurious accident in 2013 will stand, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled last week.

James A. Wilson’s appeal was “wholly without merit and devoid of any arguably appealable issue,” Justice James T. Vaughn Jr. wrote in a nine-page order.

Also, according to the Supreme Court, the defendant’s attorney “made a conscientious effort to examine the record and has properly determined Wilson could not raise a meritorious claim in this appeal.”

In Superior Court, Wilson was convicted on second-degree assault and disregarding a police officer’s signal counts in March 2016, along with three motor vehicle offenses. He was sentenced to seven years in prison as a habitual offender followed by a year of probation.

Wilson was acquitted of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

James A. Wilson stands outside the Kent County Courthouse during a break in his trial in March 2016. (Delaware State News/file photo)

According to the decision, Wilson raised five issues for the court to consider, including, among others, police allegedly over-reaching on a search warrant that preceded his arrest near his Many Things business on West Loockerman Street.

Authorities said at the time they were investigating potential drug-related activities at the business.

Justice Vaughn determined that the warrant authorized police to search Wilson even if he wasn’t physically inside his Many Things store. Officers spotted him near the premises and he fled in a vehicle that broadsided a truck at a nearby intersection and seriously injured the driver, police said.

At trial, Wilson claimed he panicked when police approached him with guns drawn, believed they were going to shoot him and fled without the intention of committing assault.

Evidence showed that “any rational juror could have found Wilson guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of second-degree assault causing serious physical injury to the victim by means of a dangerous instrument.”

The injured driver required six staples to his head and had three ruptured discs that continued to need treatment three years later, according to evidence presented at trial.

While Wilson argued that he couldn’t be convicted of assault based on the deadly weapon not guilty finding, the court pointed to a jury’s ability to provide leniency.

Wilson claimed he received ineffectual counsel during the case, but the Supreme Court does not consider that issue for the first time on direct appeal, Justice Vaughn noted.

Wilson submitted his self-generated appeal on Feb. 16.

Judge Jeffrey Clark issued the sentence in Superior Court on Sept. 13, 2016. Deputy Attorney General Greg Babowal prosecuted the case for the state while attorney John Garey represented Wilson.

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