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State v. Alexander

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 30, 2013

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MACTAVISH ALEXANDER,

ORDER

Calvin L. Scott, Jr. Judge

AND NOW, TO WIT, this 30th day of July, 2013, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:

Introduction

Before the Court is Defendant Mactavish Alexander's ("Alexander") Motion to Suppress. Alexander argues that statements or evidence were obtained by police as a result of an illegal detention, based on 11 Del. C. § 1902, and an unreasonable delay in presentment, based on 11 Del. C. § 1909. The State argues that § 1902 does not apply because Alexander was not stopped abroad, as required by § 1902, and that the delay was reasonable. The State also contends that, even if the statutes were violated, the evidence obtained would have been inevitably discovered.

Findings of Fact

On August 25, 2012 at 9:44 a.m., 911 received a call from an unidentified person reporting a domestic disturbance at a location described by the caller as "a green house near Center Street on New Castle Avenue." Police officers were dispatched to the area to investigate, but found nothing suspicious. Later that day, the bodies of Joseph Taylor and Mary Dale were discovered by family at 4060 New Castle Avenue in New Castle. The victims were killed by a blunt object which inflicted multiple severe head wounds. A knife blade was recovered from under one of the victims. 4060 New Castle Avenue matched the description of the house described to 911 earlier in the morning.

Several hours later, around 11:30 p.m., a person of interest, Alexander, was located by police at 32 Wardor Avenue in New Castle, the home of Alexander's estranged wife. While at 32 Wardor Avenue, detectives asked Alexander, and Alexander agreed, to drive himself to Troop 2 to answer questions regarding the murders. Detectives followed Alexander in a separate car as he made his way to Troop 2. Once Alexander arrived at Troop 2, he was escorted through a secure entrance, multiple locked doors and left alone in an interview room where he waited until Detective Chambers reentered and read Alexander his Miranda rights at 2:12 a.m. on August 26th.

Alexander immediately invoked his Miranda rights and the interview ended at 2:15 a.m. Detective Chambers then left the interview room while Alexander remained. No questioning was attempted for the next several hours as Alexander continued to wait in the interview room.

The investigation continued with multiple warrants being prepared. A Pen Register warrant was obtained at 3:30 a.m. by Detective Chambers for Mary Dale's missing cell phone. Video surveillance tapes from various locations believed to be on the travel route between 4060 New Castle Avenue and 32 Wardor Avenue were also being reviewed. One of the tapes showed a person matching Alexander's description place an item in a dumpster. At 8:58 a.m., a warrant for Alexander's DNA was executed. Detective Greer provided Alexander with pizza at 9:10 a.m. Detectives received a phone call at 9:11 a.m. from Alexander's wife informing detectives that she found a knife handle in the bathroom Alexander had recently showered in. Detectives drove back to 32 Wardor Avenue to conduct a consent search of the property. The knife handle was retrieved and later positively matched to the blade recovered from the murder scene at 4060 New Castle Avenue. At 9:12 a.m., Detective Chambers sent an email requesting assistance from the current police academy class in conducting a canvas of the general area between 4060 New Castle Avenue and 32 Wardor Avenue.

At 10:42 a.m., Alexander began complaining of chest pains and was transported by ambulance to the hospital for observation. Police followed the ambulance to the hospital and remained near Alexander throughout his treatment. At 12:30 p.m., while Alexander was at the hospital, Detective Greer played the 911 call to Alexander's wife. Alexander's wife identified Alexander as the unidentified 911 caller.

While still at the hospital and resting on a gurney, Alexander waived Detective Mark Ryde over. Alexander began asking questions until Detective Ryde informed Alexander that, if he wished to speak to police, Alexander would be transported back to the station where he would be re-Mirandized.

After being discharged from the hospital at 2:52 p.m., Alexander was returned to Troop 2 by police. Alexander was reread his Miranda rights, which he waived. Alexander then began confessing to the murders. The confession started at 3:54 p.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m. Alexander then left Troop 2, in handcuffs for the first time, with Detective Greer in order to assist with locating the murder weapon. The murder weapon, a bloody hammer, was recovered from a dumpster while the victims' cell phones were recovered at a second location from two trash cans located in front of a vacant house. At 8:25 p.m., Alexander wrote his confession. A warrant for Alexander's formal arrest was issued at approximately 9:20 p.m. and he was presented to the magistrate around 11:04 p.m. on August 26.

Discussion

I. Illegal Detention based on ...


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