Submitted: November 18, 2014.
Upon Defendant's Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea. Denied.
D. Benjamin Snyder, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the State.
John S. Malik, Esquire, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.
Before the Court is Jermaine Brinkley's Motion to Withdraw A Guilty Plea pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 32(d). Jermaine Brinkley (hereinafter "Defendant") makes his motion based on the recent investigation surrounding the Chief Office of the Medical Examiner (hereinafter "OCME" or "crime lab").
On April 5, 2012, the Defendant was stopped by a police officer after changing several lanes without using a turn signal. The Defendant was driving the vehicle and was accompanied by his brother in the passenger seat. Upon stopping the car, the arresting officer, Patrolman Peter Martinek (hereinafter "Officer Martinek") smelled marijuana and called for backup. Once backup arrived, Officer Martinek asked the Defendant to step out of the vehicle, and as he did, two blue baggies fell from the Defendant's clothing to the ground. The officer identified the items as heroin, and also found Defendant to be in possession of more than 100 blue baggies in his waistband. The Defendant's brother was also in possession of the following illegal substances: a small amount of marijuana, 31 grams of crack cocaine, and a digital scale. Officer Martinek field tested all of the substances seized from the Defendant. The heroin that was seized had an estimated total weight of 3.51 grams (.03 grams per bag), distributed among 117 baggies.
In the State's answering brief it notes that Counsel met with officers on January 17, 2014, at the Dover Police Headquarters and inspected the evidence in preparation for trial. Upon examination of the drugs in preparation for trial, the State did not find any evidence of tampering associated with the drugs in question in this case. The Defendant was charged with additional charges relating to drugs and drug paraphernalia that were retrieved from his brother. The State did not pursue those charges and as a result, the Defendant pled guilty to the two remaining drug charges.
On January 21, 2014, the Defendant entered into a guilty plea for the following: Drug Dealing- Heroin in violation of 16 Del. C. § 4752(2) and Aggravated Possession of Heroin in violation of 16 Del. C. § 4756. The Defendant also executed a Plea Agreement and Truth-in Sentencing Guilty Plea prior to the guilty plea colloquy.
At the time of Defendant's guilty plea, the Defense was not aware of any investigation into the OCME. Defense counsel says that it did not inspect the heroin that was allegedly found on the Defendant, and did not review any of the bench notes or data from the OCME. The Defense believes that, because it was unaware of any investigation into the OCME, the Defendant did not enter his guilty plea through an intelligent waiver of his trial rights. The Defendant also states that had he known of the possibility that the OCME tampered with evidence, he would have sought leave of Court to have an independent analysis conducted of the substances in question. The State contends that the colloquy and plea lack any sort of defect that would render the Defendant's plea as inadequate, thus requiring withdrawal.
Filings by Counsel
The Defendant filed the Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea pursuant to rule 32(d) on March 25, 2014. The State filed its response on April 4, 2014. The Defense filed an opening memorandum in support of its motion on May 1, 2014, and the State filed an answering brief on August 8, 2014. Judge Carpenter's case in State v. Irwin was decided November 17, 2014. This Court requested that if the parties had any additional memoranda to submit to the Court in light of the Irwin decision, it should do so by February 2, 2015. The State filed a memorandum in light of the Court's request. Further, the Supreme Court of Delaware issued its decision in Brown v. State of Delaware,  involving a Defendant-Appellant who believed he was entitled to a new trial based on the evidence of misconduct at the OCME, and wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, and have a new trial. The ...