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Elmore v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 9, 2015

AMIR ELMORE, Defendant-below, Appellant.
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-below, Appellee

Submitted May 13, 2015.

Case Closed July 8, 2015.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County. Cr. I.D. No. 1404013039B.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and VALIHURA, Justices.

OPINION

ORDER

Karen L. Valihura, Justice.

This 9th day of June 2015, upon consideration of the parties' briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Appellant Amir Elmore (" Elmore" ) was convicted of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited (" PFBPP" ) and Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited (" PABPP" ). Elmore was sentenced to a total of fifteen years at Level V incarceration, suspended after ten years for one year of Level III probation. On appeal, Elmore argues that the Superior Court erred as a matter of law when it denied his Motion for Judgment of Acquittal as to the element of possession in both of the charges against him. We disagree, and for the reasons stated herein, AFFIRM the judgment below.

(2) On April 18, 2014, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Dover Police Officer Rankin responded to a call about a possible domestic dispute in room 201 at the Capital Inn Motel. When Officer Rankin arrived at the Capital Inn, he observed a black male dressed in black clothing, later identified as Elmore, on the balcony of the second floor of the motel -- the same floor on which room 201 is located.

(3) Officer Rankin proceeded to the second floor of the Capital Inn, but the individual he observed earlier was no longer present. Officer Rankin and Delaware State University Officer Johnson knocked on the door of room 201 several times, but no one answered. The officers observed a woman, later identified as Aisha Legrand (" Legrand" ), poking her head out of a different room down the hall. Officer Rankin escorted Legrand down to the lobby of the Capital Inn to conduct a field interview.

(4) Soon thereafter, Dover Police Officer Wood arrived on the scene, and began checking the area for Elmore. While Officer Rankin was interviewing Legrand, Elmore appeared in the lobby of the motel, and admitted to hitting Legrand, stating " Stop beating around the bush. Tell them I hit you."

(5) Officers Rankin and Wood removed Elmore from the lobby. A search of Elmore's person revealed contraband. Elmore was then handcuffed and taken into custody. Elmore was placed in the back of Officer Wood's police car and driven to the location of Officer Rankin's vehicle. During the drive, Officer Wood did not question Elmore. However, Officer Wood testified that Elmore made an unprovoked statement, asking " to have his gun back that he left in the hotel room." Elmore told Officer Wood that the gun was " under the first bed as you entered the hotel room." Officer Wood testified that Elmore " just asked that he have it back. He stated that the victim and the children didn't know the firearm was in the room under the bed, didn't want to leave it in there with them." Later, Officer Rankin looked under the first bed in room 201, and " found a loaded sawed-off shotgun, one round in the chamber, one round beside it." [1]

(6) When Elmore was taken to the Dover Police Station, his criminal history revealed that he been convicted of the felony offense of Robbery Second Degree in June 2010. As a convicted felon, Elmore was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under 11 Del. C. § 1448(a)(1).[2] On September 29, 2014, a one-day bench trial was held in the Superior Court. After the State presented its case, Elmore moved for a judgment of acquittal, which the Trial Court denied. The Superior Court found Elmore guilty of PFBPP and PABPP.[3]

(7) We review " de novo a trial judge's denial of a criminal defendant's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal to determine whether any rational trier of fact, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, could have found the essential ...


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