Submitted: December 5, 2013
Allison J. Abessinio, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Attorney for the State of Delaware
Jonathan Layton, Esquire Layton & Associates, P.A., Attorney for Defendant
DECISION AFTER TRIAL
Honorable Sheldon K. Rennie, Judge
On December 19, 2012, Defendant Kevin Hynson ("Hynson") was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in violation of 16 Del, C, § 4764, and possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of 16 Del. C. § 4771.
A non-jury trial was held on December 5, 2013. At trial, the Court heard testimony from two witnesses. At the conclusion of trial, the Court reserved decision. This is the Court's decision after trial.
At trial, Officer John Stuart testified as the State's first witness. Officer Stuart has been employed as a police officer for the Middletown Police since 2009. On December 19, 2012, Officer Stuart was on uniform patrol when he observed a tan sedan entering onto U.S. Route 301 from Ash Boulevard in Middletown, Delaware. Officer Stuart testified that he observed Hynson, whom he was familiar with, operating the vehicle. Officer Stuart testified that he conducted a standard DELJIS check (the "DELJIS testimony"). Counsel for Hynson objected to the DELJIS testimony, arguing that such testimony is hearsay not within any exception to the hearsay rule. The State countered that it is established in Delaware case law that information obtained from DELJIS is not barred by the hearsay rule. The Court reserved decision on the hearsay objection, and Officer Stuart was instructed to proceed with his testimony.
Officer Stuart proceeded to testify that he conducted a traffic stop of the tan sedan. He observed Hynson and one passenger in the vehicle. Officer Stuart asked both occupants for identification and asked Hynson for his registration and proof of insurance, which Hynson provided. Officer Stuart noticed that Hynson and the passenger appeared nervous, and he detected an odor of marijuana permeating from the vehicle.
A second officer arrived at the scene, and Officer Stuart instructed Hynson to exit the vehicle. Officer Stuart asked Hynson about the marijuana smell, and inquired if there was anything illegal in the vehicle. Hynson stated that there was one gram of marijuana in a marijuana grinder located in the middle console of the vehicle. At that point, Hynson and the passenger were detained.
Officer Stuart conducted a search of the vehicle and recovered the grinder and the marijuana. Both items were taken back to the police station where the marijuana was weighed and determined to be approximately one gram. Both items were then secured in evidence envelopes and placed in evidence lockers.
On cross-examination, Officer Stuart testified that, although Hynson physically had possession of his license, his license was in fact suspended. Officer Stuart testified that he was only aware of the suspension because of the DELJIS check.
On re-direct, the State moved to admit into evidence the grinder and marijuana recovered from the vehicle. Counsel for Hynson objected on the basis that the items should have been moved into evidence on direct examination. The Court sustained the objection, and the grinder and marijuana were not received into evidence at that time.
The second witness to testify for the State was Dr. Bipin Mody ("Dr. Mody").Dr. Mody testified that he is a forensic chemist, and he has been employed by the ...