Biden appeals reversal of Cooke conviction to U.S. Supreme Court

On July 21, 2009, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the March, 2007
murder conviction and death sentence of James E. Cooke and ordered a new trial. That decision was rendered by a deeply divided Court in a 3-2 vote. The Delaware Department of Justice has carefully reviewed the Court’s ruling and researched the treatment of its core issues by other courts. It is clear from that review that this case presents very complex and important legal issues
that are subject to significant debate among legal authorities and have not yet been squarely addressed by the United States Supreme Court. Moreover, these issues can recur not only in this prosecution, but in many other cases as well.

“I have decided that it is in Delaware’s best interest to request a review of this case by the United States Supreme Court,” Attorney General Beau Biden stated. “This case raises issues of profound constitutional significance, and today we are filing a petition for a writ of certiorari to seek the Court’s clarification not only for this case, but for other criminal cases across the country. We have consulted with the family of Lindsey Bonistall, and recognize the pain they continue to experience as this case makes its way through the judicial process. We will continue to fight for justice.”

It is expected that the defendant’s counsel will file his response with the United States Supreme Court early in 2010 and that the Court would rule on the State’s request in due course.
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Supreme Court upholds conviction and sentence of convicted killer

On Wednesday, November 4, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld the 2008
conviction and death sentence of Shannon M. Johnson.

“We are pleased that the conviction and sentence in this case has been upheld,” Attorney General Beau Biden stated. “The maximum sentence handed down and now reaffirmed by the Supreme Court is appropriate, ensures that justice is served, and will keep a dangerous criminal off our streets.”

On September 24, 2006, Johnson shot and killed Cameron Hamlin in Wilmington. The only witness, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, was also an intended target but escaped harm. On November 10, 2006, Johnson was on the run from the police and, as his exgirlfriend drove from her house, approached the car while firing a gun at her. He smashed the driver’s side window, dragged her from the car, shot her, and fled the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital, was treated, and recovered. Johnson was found in hiding five days later.

Johnson was convicted in New Castle County Superior Court on March 27, 2008 of First Degree Murder, First Degree Assault, First Degree Reckless Endangering, three counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Deadly Weapon by a Person Prohibited. On September 5, 2008 he was sentenced by Judge M. Jane Brady to death by lethal injection plus 95 years in prison.
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