Submitted October 8, 2014
Case Closed November 5, 2014.
Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County.
Nicole M. Walker, Esquire, Office of the Public Defender, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellant.
Karen V. Sullivan, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellee.
Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, and RIDGELY, Justices.
STRINE, Chief Justice:
Andrey Zhurbin appeals from a conviction by a jury for leaving the scene of a collision, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4201, following an accident that took place in the Delaware Park Casino parking lot. Zhurbin alleges on appeal that his conviction should be vacated because the collision occurred on private property, and he contends that a collision must occur on a public highway to give rise to an offense under 21 Del. C. § 4201. But Zhurbin misreads the Delaware Code; a collision can occur on public or private property for purposes of § 4201, based on the plain language of the statute and the General Assembly's express purpose in amending a previous version that did have such a limitation. Further, because Zhurbin did not raise this issue before the Superior Court, any failure of the court to grant a judgment of acquittal because of this issue must be plain error, which it was not. Zhurbin's appeal is therefore without merit.
The relevant facts from the record are undisputed. On the evening of October 9, 2012, Zhurbin was playing blackjack at the Delaware Park Casino when he was asked to leave for engaging in " disorderly conduct." Because he appeared to be intoxicated, the casino's security guard did not want Zhurbin to drive himself. Another patron, who did not appear to know Zhurbin, volunteered to take him home. The security guard watched the two exit the casino parking lot in the other patron's car. But a short time later, another patron saw Zhurbin's Pontiac Firebird crash in the casino's parking lot, hitting multiple median guards and spinning into a ditch, before exiting onto the public street. That patron called 911 for assistance, then followed the car to a Denny's restaurant off of Route 273. When the police arrived, the patron identified Zhurbin as the person exiting the vehicle. Zhurbin at first told the responding police officer that the Firebird was not his, but he had the keys to the car in his pocket, and he was injured in a manner consistent with the accident described by the casino patron and the damage to the vehicle. Zhurbin later insisted to the police officer that his friend " Bob" had been driving, but he could not describe Bob or where he had gone after parking the car.
Zhurbin was indicted on four counts related to the accident: driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, removal of a vehicle from an accident scene, and no proof of insurance. He was acquitted by a jury of driving under the influence, and the state dismissed the ...