Dehorty was convicted of reckless driving for colliding with a horse and buggy.
In this opinion, the Delaware Supreme Court finds there is sufficient
evidence to support that conviction and so affirms it.
10th day of June, 2002, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and record
below, it appears to the Court that:
Defendant Appellant, Shelly A. Dehorty, filed this appeal from the Superior
Court's order dated July 20, 2000, which convicted Dehorty of three counts of
Assault in the Second Degree and certain motor vehicle offenses, largely
irrelevant to this appeal, after a bench trial. On October 31, 2001, we remanded
the case to Superior Court and requested that the trial judge address the
applicability, if any, of Bullock v. State, [FN1] to the facts of this case and
requested appropriate findings and conclusions in that regard. On January 3,
2002, we received the report of those findings and conclusions on remand. After
a careful review of the report, we conclude that the trial judge ruled correctly
on each issue raised by Dehorty relevant to her convictions except for Driving
While Revoked. That conviction and sentence is vacated. We affirm the Superior
Court's judgment on all other counts.
FN1. 775 A.2d 1043 (Del.2001).
record reflects that after a bench trial, the trial judge found Dehorty guilty
of three counts of Assault Second, lesser included offenses of Assault First,
arising from reckless conduct while driving her automobile at night into a
horse-drawn buggy within 100 feet of an intersection on an unlighted, unmarked,
shoulderless, narrow, county road. Dehorty drove her vehicle in excess of the
posted speed limit, did not slow down as she approached the buggy from behind
and moved into the left lane in an attempt to pass the buggy after the buggy had
already begun a left turn. At the time she collided with the buggy, the horse
had already completely cleared the road upon which both vehicles were traveling.
Dehorty left only 17 feet of skid marks before the point of impact.
trial judge correctly concluded after detailed findings of fact that these
actions constituted reckless conduct that a trier of fact could not excuse. The
collision resulting from speeding and attempting to pass an appropriately marked
horse-drawn vehicle within 100 feet of an intersection was not outside the risk
of which Dehorty was aware and the actual result involved the same kind of
injury as the probable result. The result was not too remote to have a bearing
on Dehorty's penal liability.
trial judge's opinion on remand carefully examines Del.Code Ann. tit. 11 s 263
and correctly distinguishes Bullock from the facts of this case. Dehorty caused
the collision by being where she had no right to be at a time and place where a
reasonable person could anticipate or foresee that the buggy ahead of her might
make a slow left turn into her path. The folly of approaching a horse-drawn
vehicle at night on a dark, narrow county road and attempting to pass within 100
feet of an intersection at a speed in excess of the posted 50 m.p.h. speed limit
constituted reckless conduct which caused the collision resulting in serious
injury to the buggy's three occupants.
trial judge did not abuse his discretion when he found that all three occupants
of the buggy suffered serious physical injury. Dehorty argues that one occupant
merely suffered from injuries that her emergency room physician characterized as
"significant" rather than "serious."
[FN3] Our standard of review of the trial judge's ruling on this issue is
whether any rational trier of fact could, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the State, find that the occupant suffered "serious physical
injuries" from the collision caused by Dehorty. When measured by a legal
standard, a rational person could find these injuries to be "serious."
FN3. Dr. Craig Hochstein opined at trial that a
"broken clavicle or collar bone, and ... a broken bone in her leg"
along with "numerous abrasions and contusions" were significant but
not "serious or life threatening."
urges this Court to vacate her sentence on the basis that the trial judge abused
his discretion by imposing an excessive term of imprisonment that exceeds TIS
guidelines and is out of proportion to sentences imposed in other similar cases.
The trial judge's sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum for Assault
Second. The fact that the sentence for each Assault Second conviction exceeded
TIS guidelines is not subject to Appellate review. On October 30, 2000, the
Superior Court deferred action on a Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence until
this Court returned the record and mandate to the Superior Court. Dehorty may
wish to address sentencing issues at that time. To the extent a proportionality
analysis is appropriate, the sentencing judge should have an opportunity to
consider the issue initially.
claim that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction of Reckless
Driving is without merit for the reasons stated in this Order's discussion of
the Assault Second convictions.
must, as the State has conceded, vacate the judgment and sentence for the
conviction of Driving While Revoked. While Dehorty did drive at the time of the
offense without having taken steps to reinstate her license, her actual
revocation period expired on May 5, 1998 after a one year revocation period.
This offense occurred on December 24, 1999. At most, the record reflects that
she could have been charged with and convicted of Del.Code Ann. tit. 21 s
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the judgment of the Superior Court is VACATED as
to IK00-02-0199 and AFFIRMED as to all other counts of the Indictment.
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