Burrell v. DelawareAnnotate this Case
Appellant Justin Burrell, who was three months shy of his eighteenth birthday at the time the crimes were committed, was convicted by jury of first-degree murder, manslaughter, first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, second-degree conspiracy, and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (“PFDCF”). He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole for the first-degree-murder charge plus 50 years’ imprisonment for the remaining charges. In 2012, the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, which declared unconstitutional mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders. In response to this ruling, the Delaware General Assembly enacted legislation modifying the juvenile sentencing scheme. At his resentencing, Burrell did not contest the applicability of the new 11 Del. C. Section 4209A’s 25- year minimum mandatory sentence to his first-degree-murder conviction, but argued that the court should not impose any additional statutory minimum mandatory incarceration for his five other convictions (first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, and the three counts of PFDCF) on the grounds that such additional sentences would run afoul of Miller. The Superior Court disagreed and resentenced Burrell to the minimum mandatory 25 years’ imprisonment for the first-degree-murder charge plus an additional minimum mandatory 12 years’ incarceration for the other offenses. Burrell broadens his challenge to the Delaware Supreme Court, arguing the Superior Court erred when it imposed the 25-year minimum mandatory sentence for the first-degree-murder charge and the additional 12 years for the companion offenses. Further, he claimed the sentencing statutes were unconstitutionally “overbroad.” Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed Burrell's convictions and sentences.