Smyrna man’s rape conviction upheld by Delaware Supreme Court

DOVER — A 34-year-old Smyrna man’s rape conviction was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court which found no validity in his appeal that a victim’s testimony was coerced during a January 2016 trial.

Thus, the eight-year prison sentence of Harold E. Philhower stands, based on a guilty finding of third-degree rape and three counts of dealing in child pornography.

While Philhower’s defense counsel had found no appealable issues, according to the court, he argued that the case was devoid of evidence due to a tainted testimony.

In a five-page order, Justice Karen Valihura wrote, “The jury is the sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses appearing before the trial court and is responsible for resolving any conflicts in the testimony.

Harold E. Philhower

Harold E. Philhower

“It was within the purview of the jury in this case to determine what weight to give the victim’s testimony. We find no merit to Philhower’s argument on appeal.”

Also, according to Justice Valihura, “We are satisfied that Philhower’s counsel has made a conscientious effort to examine the record and has properly determined that Philhower could not raise a meritorious claim in this appeal.”

Philhower’s counsel had filed a motion to withdraw, which was rendered moot after the Supreme Court’s order.

At trial, the defendant’s recorded statement to police on Oct. 6, 2014 was introduced into evidence, and “Philhower admitted receiving three or four nude pictures on his telephone from the then 13-year-old victim.

“During the same interview, Philhower also confessed to engaging in one incident of oral sex with the victim,” according to the order.

From the witness stand, the victim testified to sending nude photographs of herself to Philhower, who confirmed viewing them, the Court pointed out. She also testified to an encounter involving oral sex.

Philhower denied the allegations while testifying at the trial.

Philhower and the minor met at Kaizen Karate Academy in Dover.

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