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11/11/68 STATE DELAWARE v. ROBERT WILLIAMS

November 11, 1968

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
ROBERT WILLIAMS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bifferato

VINCENT A. BIFFERATO, ASSOCIATE JUDGE

UNREPORTED OPINION

Defendant was tried on September 26, 1968, before this Court without a jury. He is charged with possession of a hypodermic needle and possession of narcotic drugs.

The relevant facts are:

On March 15, 1967, members of the Vice Squad of the Wilmington Police Department, armed with a search warrant, approached defendant on the street outside his apartment. The police officers informed defendant that they had a search warrant for him and his apartment. The defendant then took the police officers to his apartment. The officers then immediately began a search of the apartment. One of the police officers, Officer Lennox Smith, searched the bedroom and found a cigarette case on the head board of the bed. The cigarette case contained packets of heroin, a hypodermic needle, and other related items. Officer Smith then warned defendant of his constitutional rights for the first time. The search continued. While the search was in progress, defendant was warned of his constitutional rights for a second and third time. After being warned of his constitutional rights on three separate occasions and during the progress of the search, the defendant stated to police, "You have all of my works. There is no more stuff in the apartment; no need to search any more, you have it all."

Officer Smith testified that defendant was seen entering and leaving the apartment in the company of a woman, believed to be his wife. The bedroom where the cigarette case was found contained men's and women's clothing. The police believed that defendant and his wife shared this bedroom.

Defendant's attorney objected to the admission of defendant's statement into evidence on the basis that defendant was not warned of his constitutional rights when approached on the street by the police officers.

The Court requested memoranda on this point since there is evidence that the bedroom where the cigarette case was found was not under the exclusive control of defendant and the statement made by defendant is crucial to the Court's decision.

The memoranda of the parties present three questions. They are:

1. Should the police officers have advised defendant of his constitutional rights while the party was still on the street before that party lead police officers to his apartment;

2. Did this failure render inadmissible an incriminating statement made subsequently by the defendant after the evidence was discovered in his apartment and after he was advised of his constitutional rights;

3. If the statement was inadmissible, was there other sufficient evidence of possessions to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

The Court will treat the first two questions together.

Defenant contends that he should have been warned of his constitutional rights when he was approached on the street by the police officers because from that moment he was ...


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