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Smith v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 25, 2014

DAVID L. SMITH, Defendant Below-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below-Appellee

Submitted April 28, 2014

Case Closed July 11, 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. 1212003243.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

ORDER

Henry duPont Ridgely Justice

On this 25th day of June 2014, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Defendant-Below/Appellant David L. Smith appeals his jury conviction in the Superior Court of Drug Dealing, Conspiracy Second Degree, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Smith raises three claims on appeal. First, Smith contends that the trial court erred when it failed to correctly instruct the jury on the defendant's state of mind. Second, Smith argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to provide a supplemental charge to the jury. And third, Smith claims that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted testimony about comments made by onlookers at the time of Smith's arrest. We find no merit to Smith's appeal. Accordingly, we affirm.

(2) In December 2012, Wilmington Police observed Smith enter a house on North Cleveland Avenue in Wilmington. Roughly ten minutes later, officers watched Smith leave. Officers followed Smith and stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation. As one officer approached the vehicle, he saw Smith making furtive movements. Officers searched the vehicle and found a bag of cocaine. While officers were searching the vehicle, a crowd of people began to form. One officer at the scene, Officer Matthew Kucharski, later testified that there were several onlookers who were on their cellphones and yelling across the street. Specifically, Officer Kucharski testified, " People were yelling across the street that they would take care of it, it's going to be okay." [1]

(3) Based on this information, Officers returned to the house on North Cleveland Avenue where they first observed Smith. Using a key they found on Smith, officers checked to see if it opened the door to the house. Upon seeing that the key worked, officers obtained a search warrant. A search of the house revealed more than fifteen ounces of crack and powdered cocaine along with various drug paraphernalia, tools, and pictures of Smith and his girlfriend.

(4) Smith was charged with two counts of Tier 4 drug dealing, two counts of Tier 5 aggravated possession, and one count each of conspiracy second degree, illegal possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a jury trial, Smith was found guilty of one count of Tier 4 drug dealing, conspiracy second degree, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Smith was found not guilty of illegal possession of a controlled substance, and the State entered a nolle prosequi on the remaining charges before submission to the jury. After the trial, Smith filed a motion for a new trial and a motion for judgment of acquittal, alleging that the jury instructions were deficient. The trial court denied Smith's motions and declared him a habitual offender. The trial court then sentenced Smith to 25 years and 120 days at Level V incarceration, suspended after three years for decreasing levels of supervision. This appeal followed.

(5) Smith contends that the trial court erred when it provided an incomplete jury instruction and abused its discretion when it refused to provide a supplemental instruction. Smith also contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence that was improper hearsay, irrelevant, and unduly prejudicial. We review the trial court's denial of a requested jury instruction de novo.[2] We review the ...


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