Submitted: March 27, 2015
Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress: DENIED.
Barzilai K. Axelrod, Deputy Attorney General, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for the State.
Joseph M. Leager, Jr., Esquire, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for the Defendant.
JAN R. JURDEN, PRESIDENT JUDGE
Before the Court is the defendant's Motion to Suppress. For the reasons that follow, the defendant's motion is DENIED.
Dale K. McNeill a.k.a. Charles Deshields ("Defendant") was arrested following an administrative search of his motel room. At the time of the search, the defendant was serving Level II probation under the supervision of the Delaware Department of Correction as a result of a 2013 conviction. As part of the defendant's "zero tolerance" probation conditions, he was required to report any change of residence within 72 hours to his supervising probation officer. The address of record that the defendant provided to Probation was The Harriet Tubman Safe House in Wilmington, Delaware.
On July 28, 2014, Senior Probation Officer William DuPont ("DuPont"), who is assigned to Operation Safe Streets ("Safe Streets"), a joint task force of New Castle County Police and Probation and Parole Officers, learned that the defendant was staying at The Dutch Inn Motel ("Dutch Inn") in New Castle County, Delaware. The guest registration for the Dutch Inn recorded that the defendant was staying there for seven days. The defendant was registered to check into Room 51 on July 22, 2014, and check-out on July 25, 2015. The defendant was also registered to check into Room 51 on July 25, 2014, and check-out on July 26, 2014. Finally, the defendant was registered to check into Room 11 on July 26, 2014, and check-out on July 29, 2014.
On July 29, 2014, a Safe Streets team went to the Dutch Inn with the purpose of ascertaining if the defendant was residing there. The Safe Streets team consisted of DuPont, Senior Probation Officer Richard Negley, Detective Thomas Bruhn of the New Castle County Police Department ("NCCPD"), and Officer Peter Stewart of the NCCPD.
DuPont testified that, through his training and experience, he is aware that probationers often secure a motel room or maintain a separate residence than the residence provided to Probation in an effort to conceal illegal activities from Probation. DuPont also testified that probationers will often change motel rooms several times to further conceal any illegal activities.
DuPont and Detective Bruhn testified that the Dutch Inn is located in a well-known, high crime area. The Safe Streets team knew that the defendant had an extensive criminal record, including drug related crimes and violent arrests. When the officers arrived at the Dutch Inn on July 29, the officers noticed a rental vehicle parked in front of the defendant's room. DuPont testified that probationers often use rental vehicles in an effort to conceal their activities from Probation.
At approximately 9:19 a.m., DuPont knocked on the door to Room 11. The defendant asked, "who is it?" DuPont identified himself as a Probation and Parole Safe Streets Officer and the defendant responded, "what do you want?" DuPont testified that he could see into Room 11 through a small four to six inch gap between the window and the curtain. DuPont told the defendant he wanted to talk, and the defendant said "okay." At this point, DuPont could still see the defendant standing inside the room and it appeared as if the defendant was unsure whether to open the door. The defendant then closed the curtains and the ...