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Williams v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

April 16, 2014

MICHAEL WILLIAMS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee

Submitted February 12, 2014.

Motion for Rehearing filed 4/28/14; Denied 5/1/14. Case Closed May 2, 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 Sussex County. Cr. ID No. 1212009692.

Before HOLLAND, BERGER, and JACOBS, Justices.

OPINION

Jack B. Jacobs, Justice.

ORDER

This 16th day of April 2014, upon consideration of the briefs of the parties and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

1. The Defendant-below/appellant Michael Williams (" Williams" ) appeals from his convictions, after a Superior Court jury trial, of 16 traffic-related offenses, including driving at an unreasonable or imprudent speed and disregarding a police officer's signal. Williams claims that: (i) the trial judge erred by denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal on the unreasonable speed charge, and (ii) the prosecutor made improper statements during closing arguments that denied Williams a fair trial. We conclude that Williams' claims lack merit and affirm his conviction.

2. At around 6:30 p.m. on December 14, 2012, while driving on Concord Pond Road in Sussex County, Delaware, Corporal Charles Simpson of the Delaware State Police (" Simpson" ) observed Williams, who was driving a green Jeep Cherokee, cross over into the road's opposite lane. Simpson began following Williams. After observing Williams once again cross into an opposite lane of travel, Simpson activated his emergency lights and sirens, but Williams did not stop. After driving on various roads while being followed by Simpson,[1] Williams turned left onto Middleford Road without stopping at a stop sign or signaling. Simpson testified that Williams was " probably" driving at least 60 miles per hour, because Simpson was driving around 60 miles per hour to catch up with Williams. The speed limit on Middleford Road was 40 miles per hour. After several more minutes of driving on other roads (during which Williams failed to stop at stop signs and illegally passed other cars), Williams stopped and parked his car at his house.[2] After Williams exited his car, Simpson ordered Williams to drop to the ground.

3. On January 10, 2013, the State filed an information (which was later amended on June 26, 2013) charging Williams with 16 counts of traffic-related offenses.[3] Count 1 charged Williams with disregarding a police officer's signal. Count 12 charged Williams with driving at an unreasonable or imprudent speed on Middleford Road, in violation of 21 Del. C . § 4168(a).[4]

4. On June 27, 2013, a jury trial was held in the Superior Court, at which Simpson testified about his pursuit of Williams on December 14, 2012. During cross examination, Simpson recalled that at 6:30 p.m. on that day, the weather was " clear" and that it was getting dark. Simpson also testified that a deli was located on Middleford Road where there are " a lot of cars, a lot of vehicles that pull in and out of there." [5] Simpson admitted that he could not recall whether he observed any cars entering or exiting the deli while he and Williams were driving on Middleford Road.

5. After the State rested its case, Williams moved for a judgment of acquittal on Count 12 of the information. Williams argued that the State had presented no evidence that the weather or road conditions at the time Williams drove down Middleford Road rendered Williams' speed " unreasonable" ...


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