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Ayers v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

July 21, 2014

DASHAWN AYERS, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee. MICHAEL E. DEMBY, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee

Submitted June 11, 2014

Case Closed August 6, 2014.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County. Cr. I.D. Nos. 1208001950, 1206011513.

Benjamin A. Schwartz, Esquire (argued), Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law, P.A., Dover, Delaware for Appellant Dashawn Ayers.

André M. Beauregard, Esquire (argued), Brown, Shiels & Beauregard, LLC, Dover, Delaware for Appellant Michael E. Demby.

Andrew J. Vella, Esquire (argued), Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellee State of Delaware.

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

OPINION

Page 1038

BERGER, Justice

In this consolidated appeal we consider, among other things, whether the admission of wiretap recordings in a criminal trial violated appellants' confrontation rights under our state or federal constitutions. Appellants contend that the recordings were " testimonial" because two witnesses explained the meaning of the codes used in the recorded conversations, and appellants were unable to cross-examine the declarants about the coded language. We hold that the wiretap recordings, used to prove that appellants committed the crime of conspiracy, were admissible. There was no constitutional violation, and the appellants' remaining arguments lack merit. Accordingly, the judgments of conviction are affirmed.

Factual and Procedural Background

In May and June 2012, the Delaware State Police led a multi-agency law enforcement team that was investigating drug sales in Kent County, Delaware. The team used wiretaps to monitor communications by Galen Brooks, the target of the investigation. On May 26, 2012, the police heard a phone conversation between Brooks and Michael Demby, which led them to believe that a drug deal was about to take place. Based on that call, the police established surveillance at the McKee Crossing Shopping Center, and at Brooks's father's home on Red Oak Drive in Dover. In the next call, the police heard Brooks telling Demby to prepare a package of cocaine and to bring it to the buyer, who would be driving a Dodge Caravan. Brooks told Demby that the price was $2400. The police saw Demby leave the Red Oak Drive home and place a package in the trunk of a Honda parked at the house. Demby and Brooks' brother, James, then got into the Honda and drove off.

At the McKee Crossing Shopping Center, the police saw Dashawn Ayers seated in a Dodge Caravan in the parking lot. Demby and James arrived in the Honda and parked next to the ...


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