Submitted: April 13, 2017
Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Granted in Part; Denied
Gregory R. Babowal, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover,
Delaware; attorney for the State.
J'Aime L. Walker, Esquire, Office of the Public Defender,
Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.
WLLLIAM L. WITHAM, JR. RESIDENT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Suppress filed by Defendant Darren
Z. Hall and the State's Response in opposition. In his
motion, Mr. Hall seeks to suppress evidence obtained from a
search of his person after a traffic stop. Police stopped the
vehicle in which Mr. Hall was a passenger because the driver,
James White, was the subject of a search warrant. Officers
found seventeen packages of suspected PCP in Mr. Hall's
wallet, which was on his person. After Mr. Hall was searched,
he was taken into custody and later strip-searched at the
Hall argues that the traffic stop of the car in which he was
a passenger was pretextual and that the police lacked a
reasonable and articulable suspicion to pull the car over,
and that there were no grounds for the subsequent search of
his person, his arrest, or the strip search. The motion is
granted as to the PCP only.
search or seizure is conducted in the absence of a search
warrant, the State has the burden of proving that the search
or seizure complied with Delaware statute and the federal and
passenger in the vehicle, Mr. Hall has no standing to
challenge the stop of the vehicle itself, only the seizure of
his person. Even if he had standing to challenge
the stop, and even if the stop was pretextual, as Mr. Hall
argues, the stop was supported by the officers'
observation of the driver and a valid search warrant for the
driver's person. To the extent State v.
Heath would appear to mandate a subjective
inquiry into the officers' intent when pretext is
alleged, the Court declines to follow it.
the search of his person, the parties' submissions and
the hearing testimony do not explain why Mr. Hall was
searched and his wallet opened. The State has argued, without
presenting any evidence on the topic, that the search of Mr.
Hall's person was a protective search. The detective
testified that police were searching for contraband or a
weapon, but he offered no basis for their belief that Mr.
Hall had either. And even if there were grounds to conduct a
protective search, the detective's testimony failed to
explain how a wallet's "plain feel" would
indicate to an officer that it contained contraband or a
weapon. Indeed, the detective that testified
was not even present for the search.
Court has been unable to discover another ground for the
search of Mr. Hall's person. The State has not argued
that the search was incident to arrest, likely because the
detective did not testify to any probable cause for arrest
before the challenged search revealed PCP. It is the
State's burden to show that the search was proper, and it
has not met its burden. The evidence obtained from the search
of Mr. Hall's person during the traffic stop is
Hall argued at the hearing, apparently for the first time,
that the search of Mr. White's residence was improper. It
is unclear on what ground he bases that assertion. Regardless
of the basis, the evidence adduced at the hearing did not
demonstrate that Mr. Hall had a reasonable expectation of
privacy in Mr. White's residence. The Court thus holds
that he has no standing to challenge its search or the
validity of the warrant that supported it.
Mr. Hall has not identified any evidence collected as part of
the strip search, the Court will not consider its legality.
Hall's Motion to Suppress is GRANTED IN
PART as to the PCP and DENIED IN PART as to the strip search
and as to the evidence obtained at Mr. ...