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State v. Chandler

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

April 2, 2015

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MICHAEL CHANDLER, Defendant

         Submitted March 23, 2015.

          Corrected: April 14, 2015

Page 134

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 135

          Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress: GRANTED.

         Zachary Rosen, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for the State.

         Natalie S. Woloshin, Esquire, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for the Defendant.

          OPINION

Page 136

         Jan R. Jurden, President Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is the defendant's Motion to Suppress. For the reasons that follow, the defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         II. FACTS

         On May 7, 2014, Trooper Matthew Radcliffe of the Delaware State Police was conducting a routine traffic patrol in an unmarked patrol vehicle on Delaware Route 1 in New Castle County, Delaware.[1] At 3:47 p.m., Trooper Radcliffe observed a 2014 black Dodge Charger bearing a Pennsylvania license plate traveling 48 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. Trooper Radcliffe activated the emergency equipment on his patrol vehicle and conducted a motor vehicle stop on the right shoulder of Route 1.[2] As Trooper Radcliffe approached the vehicle on the passenger side, he observed the defendant, Michael Chandler, as the driver and sole occupant. According to Trooper Radcliffe, Chandler appeared extremely nervous. Trooper Radcliffe told Chandler that he was speeding and asked for his license, insurance, and registration. As Chandler produced the requested documents,[3] Chandler's hands were visibly shaking, his chest was moving up and down due to his heavy breathing, he avoided eye contact, and he fumbled with his license. Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler about his trip. Chandler hesitantly stated that he was from Philadelphia and was headed to Virginia to see family. Trooper Radcliffe did not ask any further questions about Chandler's travels. Trooper Radcliffe testified that he saw four cell phones scattered throughout the center console of Chandler's vehicle.

Page 137

          Following this interaction, Trooper Radcliffe returned to his vehicle to call for backup assistance and conduct routine computer checks. Trooper Radcliffe called for backup because Chandler was so nervous.[4] While waiting for backup, Trooper Radcliffe conducted a routine computer check which indicated that Chandler's license was valid and that the vehicle was rented under the name of Michael Chandler.

         Approximately 18 minutes after the initial stop, Trooper Macauley of the Delaware State Police arrived as backup. Immediately upon arrival, Trooper Radcliffe and Trooper Macauley discussed the circumstances of the traffic stop. Trooper Radcliffe told Trooper Macauley that Chandler's hands were shaking a lot when he reached for his wallet, he was driving a rental vehicle, he was from Philadelphia and going to visit family in Virginia, and that he had an alias of " Robert Page." Trooper Macauley asked Trooper Radcliffe if there were " any air fresheners or anything," and Trooper Radcliffe said he did not see any. At that point, Chandler's criminal history check came back showing that Chandler had an extensive criminal history, including weapons and drug trafficking charges. Trooper Radcliffe cautioned Trooper Macauley, " be careful, he is so nervous it is making me nervous," before they both approached the defendant's vehicle. Trooper Radcliffe approached on the driver's side of the vehicle and Trooper Macauley approached on the passenger side. Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler to exit the vehicle and asked to see Chandler's hands as he was exiting. Trooper Radcliffe told Chandler to stand at the left rear of the vehicle. Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler if he had any weapons and Chandler responded " No." Trooper Radcliffe advised Chandler he was going to conduct a pat down for officer safety. Trooper Radcliffe patted down Chandler and found no weapons.

         After completing the pat down, both officers stood with Chandler behind the vehicle. Trooper Radcliffe told Chandler that he was pulled over for speeding and asked, " what is up with the two names, do you have another name?" When Chandler responded " uhh," Trooper Radcliffe asked, " how about Page, is that you as well?" Chandler responded, " Yes." Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler what his real name was, and he responded " Michael Chandler." Again, Trooper Radcliffe inquired about the name of " Page" and Chandler replied, " that was an alias." Trooper Radcliffe then asked, " so Page is an alias and Chandler is your real name?" Chandler responded, " Yes."

         Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler why he was so nervous in his vehicle and Chandler said there was no reason. Trooper Radcliffe again inquired about the name of " Page," and asked Chandler when he last used the name " Page." Chandler explained that the last time he used the name Page was in 1998. Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler how long he has used the name " Chandler," and Chandler answered, " all my life." In response to more questioning, Chandler admitted that he had been in trouble with the law in the past under the name of Page. Trooper Radcliffe asked Chandler, " is anything illegal in the vehicle that you tend to travel with like guns, drugs, knives, bombs, used currency, anything crazy like that?" Chandler responded, " No." Trooper Radcliffe continued questioning Chandler as follows:

Page 138

Trooper Radcliffe: Do you mind if I check real quick to get you on your way?
Chandler: No I don't--I don't--I do mind.
Trooper Radcliffe: You do mind?
Chandler: Because I was pulled...
Trooper Radcliffe: [inaudible]
Chandler: I do mind because I'm getting pulled over for speeding [gestures towards his vehicle] . . .
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: and now that--
Trooper Radcliffe: Well I've just explained all those--the two names, the nervousness, and all that--all that stuff alright--
Chandler: I'm not nervous.
Trooper Radcliffe: --makes me suspicious alright and that's the reason why I am asking.
Chandler: I'm not nervous.
Trooper Radcliffe: So I'm--I'm respecting you, okay? I want to know if I have your right--your consent for me to look in your vehicle due to all the stuff I explained to you?
Chandler: No sir.
Trooper Radcliffe: No? Okay.
Chandler: Because I'm on my way to go see my family--
Trooper Radcliffe: Uh huh.
Chandler: I've been in trouble in 1998--
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: and now I'm being pulled over--
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: for something in 1998--
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: Do you understand what I'm saying? I get--I got--
Trooper Radcliffe: Simple question. Yes or no. You are saying no?
Chandler: No. Yes.
Trooper Radcliffe: Alright have a seat in your vehicle, I'll be right with you okay.

         As Chandler returned to his vehicle (as instructed by Trooper Radcliffe) and began to open the driver's door, Trooper Macauley stopped Chandler and directed him to stand by the rear passenger side tire. Meanwhile, Trooper Radcliffe returned to his patrol vehicle and called for a narcotic canine unit (" K9" ).

         As Chandler leaned back against his vehicle, Trooper Macauley began to question him. After about two and a half minutes, Chandler turned around, faced his vehicle, folded his arms, and leaned on the trunk. Trooper Macauley turned his back to Chandler and walked toward Trooper Radcliffe's patrol vehicle. For about 2 minutes, with his back still to Chandler, Trooper Macauley informed Trooper Radcliffe that Chandler had no idea where he was going in Virginia. Trooper Macauley explained that Chandler said he was going to Norfolk, Virginia to visit his cousin but could not provide the cousin's name or say if the cousin was male or female. Trooper Macauley told Trooper Radcliffe that he told Chandler, " you are nervous--you have no valid answer to any of the questions-- [inaudible] so we are just going to call the K9 now."

         Trooper Radcliffe then confirmed with dispatch that Trooper Nicholas Ronzo was on the way with his K9 partner. Trooper Macauley re-approached Chandler and stood next to him. Chandler remained leaning on the trunk. Several minutes later, Trooper Radcliffe approached Chandler and the following exchange occurred:

Trooper Radcliffe: Alright man, gonna let you know what is going on alright. We have a narcotic K9 coming. [inaudible] Okay? Why you sweating?

Page 139

Chandler: . . . I'm being asked a whole bunch of questions and it don't make no sense . . .
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: you pulled me over for speeding . . .
Trooper Radcliffe: Okay.
Chandler: [inaudible] --and now you trying to make it something else--
Trooper Radcliffe: Alright look I'm just trying to be respectful. I'm letting you know what's going on okay. It is what it is. Alright?
Chandler: [ nods head ]
Trooper Radcliffe: When was your last criminal charge?
Chandler: I choose not to answer no more ...

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