Cynthia L. Faraone, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for State of Delaware.
Joseph M. Leager, Esq., Assistant Public Defender, Public Defender's Office, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Defendant.
On this 6th day of October, 2014, IT IS ORDERED as follows:
Defendant's Motion to Suppress is DENIED.
Calvin L. Scott Judge
Before the Court is Defendant Deon Black's ("Defendant") Motion to Suppress, brought by counsel. Defendant argues that there was no reasonable suspicion for a pat down. Defendant also argues that the evidence found on his person should be suppressed because the search incident to arrest was invalid, as it was a result of an improper pre-textual stop that exceeded the scope of a traffic stop. The Court has reviewed the motion and the State's response and held a suppression hearing. For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion is DENIED.
Findings of Fact
On March 25, 2014, at around 9:00p.m., Detective Leary and Probation Officer Sweeney were on preventive patrol in the area of 8th and North Monroe Street when they observed a Jeep parked on the corner. As the vehicle began to travel, the driver failed to use a turned signal on two occasions. Detective Leary also observed the driver failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Upon observing the traffic violations, Detective Leary activated the emergency equipment in his police vehicle to conduct a motor vehicle stop. The Jeep continued for a short distance before coming to a complete stop. Prior to the Jeep stopping, Detective Leary observed the vehicle passenger, Defendant Deon Black ("Defendant Black"), moving around in the vehicle and turning toward the center console.
Detective Leary approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver, Matthew Norwood ("Norwood"). Detective Leary asked Norwood for his license, registration and proof of insurance. The vehicle was registered to Norwood, but Norwood was unable to provide a license or insurance card. Detective Leary returned to his police vehicle to check Norwood's information and prepare a summons for multiple traffic violations. Detective Leary then asked Norwood to step out of the vehicle so that he could explain the summons and have Norwood sign it. Prior to having Norwood sign the summons, Detective Leary asked Norwood general questions about who he was with in the vehicle and where they were heading. Norwood told Detective Leary that he was giving his buddy – Defendant Black – a ride to Newark to see his kids. Norwood said he didn't know his buddy's name, but that he had met him in AA. Detective Leary also asked Norwood whether he had anything illegal in the car or on his person. Norwood responded that he did not and volunteered his consent for Detective Leary to search the vehicle. Prior to searching the vehicle, Detective Leary frisked Defendant Black. A cell phone and money were found on Defendant Black's person. These items were returned to Defendant Black after the pat down.
After the pat down of Defendant Black, Detective Leary searched the vehicle. During his search, Detective Leary found several chunks of an off-white chunky substance on the driver's side floor board, two pipes near the driver's seat and door, and a blue digital scale in the center console. Both Norwood and Defendant Black were placed under arrest and transported to the City of Wilmington Police Department for further investigation.
Once at Wilmington Police Department, both Norwood and Defendant Black were also searched incident to arrest. Nothing was found on Norwood. A search of Defendant Black's person revealed several chunks of suspected crack cocaine in the front pouch of Defendant Black's hoodie. There was also $147 cash found in Defendant Black's pants' pocket, though Defendant Black said that it was only $100. Pursuant to filling out the defendant history form at intake, Detective Leary learned that Defendant Black was unemployed at that time. Defendant Black chose not to offer information as to how or why he was in possession of the money.
Defendant Black was subsequently indicted on charges of Drug Dealing and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. On July 30, 2014, Defendant ...