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State v. Davis

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

February 17, 2017

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
KEENAN DAVIS, Defendant

          Submitted: February 8, 2017

          Erik Towne, Esquire Attorney for the State of Delaware

          Raymond Radulski, Esquire Attorney for Defendant

          DECISION AFTER TRIAL

          The Honorable Carl C. Danberg Judge

         By Information dated September 13, 2016, the State of Delaware brought an action against Keenan Davis (hereinafter the "Defendant"), which charges him with Driving Under the Influence and Failure to Remain Within a Single Lane. On February 8, 2016, a DUI trial was convened on the matter. At the conclusion of the trial, the Court reserved decision. This is the Court's final decision after trial.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         After a verbal colloquy with the Court, the Defendant elected to waive his right to a jury trial, and the case was tried as a bench trial. As such, the Court sat as the sole trier of fact. Therefore, it is the Court's responsibility to assess the credibility of the testifying witnesses and, where there is a conflict in the testimony, to reconcile these conflicts, "if reasonably possible[, ] so as to make one harmonious story."[1] In doing so, the Court takes into consideration the demeanor of the witnesses, their apparent fairness in giving their testimony, their opportunities to hear and know the facts about which they testified, and any bias or interest that they may have concerning the nature of the case.[2] Based upon the facts established at trial, the Court must then determine whether the State has met each and every element of the specified offenses beyond a reasonable doubt.[3]

         FACTS

         On August 29, 2016, at approximately 8:40 p.m., Corporal Andrew Pietlock of the Delaware State Police Troop 1 ("Corporal Pietlock") was on uniformed patrol when he arrived at the scene of an accident on northbound 1-495. Multiple vehicles had been involved in collisions, blocking the flow of traffic, with a Budget rental box truck (the "Truck") in front of the other vehicles, resting against the left side concrete barrier. Initially, Corporal Pietlock had devoted his attention to the drivers of the vehicles behind the Truck, as another Delaware State Police officer - Trooper Marcione - was speaking with the driver of the Truck. However, after hearing the driver become argumentative, Corporal Pietlock approached to lend assistance.

         Upon approaching the Truck, Corporal Pietlock identified Defendant as the driver. Immediately after the accident, Defendant had been found inside the Truck with his seatbelt on. He was the sole occupant.[4] Defendant was subsequently asked to exit the Truck and to provide documentation, to which Defendant responded by handing Trooper Marcione several credit cards. At this point Defendant became loud, uncooperative, and argumentative, prompting Corporal Pietlock's approach. While standing next to Defendant, Corporate Pietlock noticed an odor of alcohol, glassy, bloodshot eyes, and balance issues.[5] Defendant was unable to stand still; he was swaying and staggering throughout the entire encounter.

         At this point, Corporal Pietlock detained Defendant and led Defendant to Corporal Pietlock's patrol vehicle. Once inside, Defendant began complaining of chest pains, causing Corporal Pietlock to summon an ambulance; Defendant was ultimately removed from the scene in the ambulance and taken to the emergency room. After Defendant had left, Corporal Pietlock performed an investigation of the accident scene. The Truck, which was found resting against a concrete barrier, had front-end damage, consistent with contacting concrete barriers on both front sides of the Truck. Corporal Pietlock also found an open, cold beer bottle on the ground outside the passenger side of the Truck. Corporal Pietlock considered the fact the beer was cold to be significant, given the incident occurred in August.

         Once Corporal Pietlock was able to leave the scene of the accident, he responded to Troop 1 and secured a search warrant to draw blood from Defendant. Corporal Pietlock went to the emergency room, where he found Defendant on a stretcher and wearing a neck collar. When asked about the accident, Defendant claimed he was driving in either the center or the left lane when an unknown vehicle cut him off, causing Defendant to swerve, lose control of the Truck, and ultimately crash into the concrete barrier. Defendant could not provide any details of this second vehicle whatsoever.[6] Defendant also advised Corporal Pietlock he had consumed one beer earlier and the one in the Truck.[7]

         Corporal Pietlock provided the search warrant to hospital staff. However, the staff refused to draw blood without Defendant's written consent. Defendant had initially refused to consent, but then signed the consent form. Despite having received consent at approximately 12:30 a.m., the hospital still had not drawn the blood after approximately five hours had passed from the time of the accident. Corporal Pietlock abandoned his attempt to secure a blood draw. No further ...


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