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State v. May

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

January 23, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
JAMES A. MAY, Defendant.

Submitted: January 8, 2014

Christina Kontis, Esq. Deputy Attorney General Delaware Department of Justice Attorney for the State

Michael W. Modica, Esq.Attorney for the Defendant

DECISION AFTER TRIAL

Carl C. Danberg, Judge

INTRODUCTION

On August 15, 2013, Defendant James May (hereinafter "Defendant") was arrested and charged with Resisting Arrest in violation of 11 Del. C. § 1257(b), Carrying a Concealed Dangerous Instrument in violation of 11 Del. C. § 1443(a), and Disorderly Conduct in violation of 11 Del C. § 1301(l)(b). A non-jury trial was held on January 8, 2014, during which five witnesses testified. At the conclusion of the trial, the Court reserved its decision.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The State's witness was Corporal Aaron Metzner (hereinafter "Corporal Metzner") of the Wilmington Police Department. Corporal Metzner testified that on August 15, 2013, he had just completed roll call and was starting his patrol when he ran the license plate of a motorcycle and determined that the plate was not associated with the motorcycle. Corporal Metzner followed the motorcycle to a parking lot of the River Commons Apartment Complex. Corporal Metzner inquired with a woman, later identified as Rozlyn Payne, [1] as to the motorcycle's owner. Corporal Metzner testified that he was planning on having the motorcycle towed from the property. Payne proceeded back into the building, and at approximately the same time, a group of individuals, including Defendant, exited the building. One of the individuals was the driver of the motorcycle, later identified as Marvin Harper.[2] Corporal Metzner asked Harper for his license and registration approximately three to four times before Harper produced the items. Harper testified that he questioned Corporal Metzner's purpose for requesting his information, as Harper was not the owner of the motorcycle, and he did not understand why Corporal Metzner was going to tow it. Harper eventually provided the requested materials, and Corporal Metzner returned to his patrol car to record the information.

While Corporal Metzner was in his patrol vehicle, Defendant, who was standing with a group of approximately three other people in the parking lot, began telling Harper to get Corporal Metzner's badge number.[3] Corporal Metzner testified that Defendant was yelling, while Harper and Payne testified that Defendant remained calm. Corporal Metzner testified that he grew annoyed with Defendant's alleged yelling, so he exited his vehicle, walked over to Defendant, stuck his chest out to put his badge in close proximity to Defendant's face, and told Defendant that he could write down the badge number. Corporal Metzner testified that Defendant began calling him a "clown, " and told him (Corporal Metzner) to "get the f — out of my face." Payne, Harper, and Defendant confirmed through testimony that Defendant called Corporal Metzner a "clown, " but they all denied that Defendant used profanity. Payne and Harper also testified that at this time, Defendant spoke in a calm tone and kept his hands in his pockets, while Corporal Metzner appeared agitated and aggressive. Corporal Metzner testified that he decided to arrest Defendant for disorderly conduct. Corporal Metzner asked Defendant if he had any identification. Defendant produced an identification card, held it up, and then returned it to his pocket without handing it to Corporal Metzner. Corporal Metzner testified that he placed Defendant under arrest and grabbed Defendant's arm, but the Defendant pulled away and proceeded to walk around in circles. Both Payne and Harper testified that Defendant did not resist arrest, nor did he run from the police. Corporal Metzner testified that he called for backup and approximately 20-30 officers responded. As the police proceeded to arrest Defendant, they discovered a 4.5" serrated knife clipped to Defendant's right pocket.

THE LAW

The State must prove every element of each offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt.[4]"Reasonable doubt does not mean a vague, speculative doubt, nor a mere possible doubt, but a substantial doubt; it is such a doubt as intelligent, reasonable and impartial men may honestly entertain after a careful and conscientious consideration of the evidence in the case."[5]

"If the Court finds the evidence to be presented in conflict...it is the Court's duty to reconcile these conflicts....If the Court cannot do this, the Court must give credit to the portion of the testimony which... is most worthy of credit and disregard any portion...unworthy of credit."[6]

The Court may not deem a witness to be more worthy of credit simply because of the witness' affiliation with a law enforcement organization.[7] To deem a witness more or less credible there must be some basis to do so drawn from the evidence or from their behavior and demeanor.[8]If the testimony is in conflict and ...


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