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Clark v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

January 10, 2018

OMARI E. CLARK, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: December 13, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID No. 1006026385

          Before VALIHURA, VAUGHN, and TRAYNOR, Justices.



         This 10th day of January 2018, having considered the briefs and the record below, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) In March 2015, a Superior Court jury found Omari Clark guilty of Manslaughter and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony ("PDWDCF") in connection with the June 2010 stabbing death of Wyatt Brower.[1] Thereafter, Clark was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment, suspended after 22 years, followed by probation. Clark raises one argument on appeal-that the failure of the Superior Court to provide a "missing evidence" jury instruction deprived him of due process and his right to a fair trial. Finding no merit to Clark's contention, we AFFIRM Clark's convictions.

         (2) The incident leading to Brower's death began when Clark went to the Brower residence in Wilmington, Delaware looking for his infant daughter's mother, Nish, who was the girlfriend of Brower's grandson. When Clark knocked on the front door, Vanessa Brower, Wayne Brower's wife, answered. Clark asked Vanessa if Nish was in the house. At first, Vanessa believed that Nish was not present and so advised Clark, who then left. But shortly after Clark left, Vanessa learned that Nish was in her home, so she went out into the street to see if Clark was still in the vicinity. He was, and Vanessa told him that Nish was in fact at the Brower residence and would come out to speak with him.

         (3) After Clark engaged in a physical altercation with Nish outside the residence, Wayne Brower exited the residence and announced his intention to call the police. Clark responded by punching Brower in the face. The situation deteriorated further when two of Brower's sons and his grandson came to his defense. One of Brower's sons hit Clark in the back of the head with a metal chair. Clark then fled on foot, but not long thereafter returned to the Brower residence wielding a knife.

         (4) When Clark returned with the knife, Wayne Brower came back out of the residence with a walking stick. As Brower came out of the house, he beat the stick on the steps and hollered, "I'm tired of this, "[2] and "leave my family alone."[3]The banging of the walking stick caused it to break in two, but Brower was able to hold on to the skinnier part of the stick.

         (5) According to Teheshia Morris, another of the Browers' children who was watching from the front door, Brower was trying to get his family members back into the house while backing up the steps, when he lost his balance and fell backwards. As Brower lay supine, Teheshia witnessed Clark "run[] up [and] stab[] [her] father [in the] stomach."[4] After he stabbed Brower, Clark ran to his car. As he drove away, Nigel Morris struck Clark's car with one of the pieces of the broken walking stick, but that did not impede Clark's escape.

         (6) Shaunte Brown, a witness called by the defense, confirmed that Brower was wielding a stick, which she also described as "like a mop head, " when he came out of his house before his final encounter with Clark.[5] Brown described how "the older man, [Brower]" was swinging the stick like a "baseball bat, "[6] and "actually connected more than the younger one [Clark] because he had a long stick."[7]According to Brown, as Brower began to walk backwards toward his house, he started to lose his footing, "but the stick [was] out extended this way, he's still hitting."[8] Brown testified that Clark then punched Brower and did not see the knife with which the other witnesses saw Clark stab Brower.

         (7) When the police interviewed Clark after his arrest, he claimed that Brower came at him with "a bat, " and that he was defending himself when he stabbed Brower.[9] Brower died later that evening as a result of the stab wounds.

         (8) The responding officers from the Wilmington Police Department ("WPD"), who arrived on the scene at 10:22 p.m., approximately three minutes after being notified of the fight, were told that "a person had been stabbed."[10] They rendered first aid to Brower and called for an ambulance, which arrived within five minutes. They then secured the scene and talked to the people who were inside the residence asking them to describe what happened.

         (9) Sergeant Karchner of the WPD Evidence Detection Unit arrived at the scene at 11:30 p.m. Because a stabbing had occurred, he collected, among other things, a knife from a butcher block found in the Browers' kitchen, fingerprinted various items, and took photographs of the scene. He recalled seeing sticks and debris in the street in front of the residence but, because the presence of such material "wouldn't be uncommon . . . in the roadway . . . of a tree-lined block in the city, " and ...

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