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Wright v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 7, 2014

DWAYNE E. WRIGHT, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee

Submitted January 9, 2014.

Case Closed March 25, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. No. 1206005342.

Before BERGER, JACOBS, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Henry duPont Ridgely Justice.

ORDER

On this 7th day of March 2014, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Defendant-Below/Appellant Dwayne Wright appeals from a jury conviction in the Superior Court of two counts of Drug Dealing. Wright raises one claim on appeal. Wright contends that that the trial court erred when it denied his Motion for Judgment of Acquittal. We find no merit to Wright's appeal and affirm.

(2) In 2012 and in response to a complaint about drug sales in the neighborhood, Officer Erin Metzner conducted surveillance using binoculars from a second-story classroom in the Bancroft Elementary School in Wilmington. Officer Metzner saw Wright, who was standing near the school, conducting hand-to-hand drug transactions. According to Officer Metzner, Wright " was approached by several different subjects," who would hand him what appeared to be currency in exchange for a small, imperceptible object.[1] Officer Metzner then saw Wright walk about thirty feet to a trashcan, lean over at the waist and place an object inside the trashcan and walk back. He later testified that the object was small and dark, but he could not tell what it was.

(3) Officer Metzner then had two other officers detain Wright. The officers conducted a pat-down search of Wright and two other individuals who were with him. But they did not find any weapons or other contraband. Officer Metzner also advised the other officers to search the trashcan. Officers discovered a common black garbage bag containing six sandwich bags of marijuana and eleven small bags of heroin in the trash can. The State did not provide any DNA, fingerprint, or other physical evidence linking the bag in the trashcan to Wright. The officers then arrested Wright, conducted a search incident to an arrest, and found $293 in cash in Wright's pockets but no weapons, drugs, paraphernalia, or other contraband.

(4) Wright was indicted on two counts of drug dealing and one count of loitering. The State entered a nolle prosequi on the loitering charge and the case went to a jury trial in the Superior Court. After an initial mistrial, Wright moved for a judgment of acquittal at the end of the second jury trial. The trial court denied Wright's motion. Thereafter, the jury convicted Wright on both counts. The court declared Wright a Habitual Offender and sentenced him to five years in prison. This appeal followed.

(5) Wright contends that the Superior Court erred when it denied his Motion for Acquittal because the State failed to prove that Wright had constructive possession of the drugs found on the scene. " We review de novo a trial judge's denial of a criminal defendant's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal to determine whether any rational trier of fact, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the ...


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