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State v. Westcott

Superior Court of Delaware

January 23, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
QUALEEL WESTCOTT, Defendant.

          Submitted: January 13, 2017

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Granted.

          Stephen R. Welch, Jr., Esquire of the Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the State.

          Edward C. Gill, Esquire of the Law Office of Edward C. Gill, P.A., Georgetown, Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.

          ORDER

          William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge

         Before the Court is a motion to suppress filed by Defendant Qualeel Westcott. In his motion, Mr. Westcott seeks to suppress (1) statements made in an interview with a Milford Police Department detective and (2) evidence collected from mobile phones pursuant to a search warrant.

         At the hearing on the motion, the State conceded the portion of the motion that sought suppression of the interview after Mr. Westcott's ambiguous invocation of his right to counsel.

         The motion to suppress evidence collected from mobile phones pursuant to a search warrant is granted.

         FACTS

         Mr. Westcott stands charged with Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, and various other counts arising out of a shooting that occurred on May 11, 2016 in or around Milford, Delaware.

         Mr. Westcott was taken into custody by Detective Sergeant Horsman of the Milford Police Department on May 11, 2016.

         Detective Horsman applied for and received a search warrant on May 24, 2016, to search "data and cellular logs" from mobile phones that the State believed belonged to Mr. Westcott. The affidavit alleged that a shooting had occurred and that Mr. Westcott had committed it. It also alleged that during a consent search of an apartment in which Mr. Westcott was staying, the police found drugs and three mobile phones. One of the mobile phones was a Samsung and was located on the floor in the living room beside a television stand along with ninety-one bags of heroin and a quantity of marijuana. Another Samsung mobile phone was found in the bed where Westcott said he was sleeping. And an iPhone was found on the dining room table. The tenant at the apartment "stated that the iPhone was not there before Bolden and Westcott came to her apartment and she did not know who owned it." Based on his allegations, the detective sought to search "the three phones to look for physical evidence or confession of the shooting or the illegal distribution of heroin contained therein."

         THE PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         Mr. Westcott contends that the search warrant affidavit was devoid of probable cause because the detective failed to provide a logical nexus between the mobile phones and the crime, and the warrant lacked sufficient particularity.

         The State argues that the affidavit alleged facts that established a reasonable basis to believe that evidence would be found on the phones.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When evidence is collected according to a search warrant, the defendant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the search or seizure violated his rights under the United ...


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