PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: M. Jane Brady
Phone: (302) 893-7999
Date: April 11, 2005
SUPREME COURT RULES LIFE INMATES TO REMAIN IN JAIL UNLESS PAROLED
Attorney General Jane Brady announced that the Delaware Supreme Court today issued an opinion, reversing a previous opinion of the Court, that life sentences subject to parole imposed before June 1990 were indeed life sentences. The Court had previously ruled that, based on language in sentencing law passed in 1989, those life sentences were to be 45 year sentences. The State had requested the Court to reconsider its decision. The Supreme Court issued the revised opinion today. "I am extremely pleased with the decision, as are the several victims with whom I have already spoken, said Brady. "I commend the court for their willingness to revisit this issue."
On September 29, 1982 Ward T. Evans was convicted of Rape in the first degree. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. In 2004, Evans filed a motion in the Delaware Superior Court seeking to have his sentence declared unconstitutional as it was calculated by the state. In this motion, Evans claimed that his life sentence should be considered a 45 year sentence under Delaware law. The Superior Court denied the motion and Evans appealed to the Supreme Court. In an opinion dated November 23, 2004, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court. In response, the General Assembly of the State of Delaware passed, and Governor Minner signed into law House Bill 31. A further request for reconsideration was then filed by the Department of Justice. In the opinion issued today, the Delaware Supreme Court declared HB31 unconstitutional, but upon reconsideration, withdrew its earlier opinion, and now affirms the opinion of the Superior Court.