Submitted: March 22, 2018
RK12-06-0541-01 DDeal Tier 4 (F) RK 12-09-0213-01 CCDW (F)
RK12-09-0214-01 PDWDCF (F) RK12-09-0216-01 Consp
2nd (F) RK 12-09-0211-01 PossMarj(M)
Jeffrev J Clark Judge.
6th day of April, 2018 upon consideration of
Defendant Ansara Brown's ("Mr. Brown's")
Motion for Postconviction Relief, the Commissioner's
Report and Recommendation (the "Report"), Mr.
Brown's appeal, and the record in this case, it appears
1. Mr. Brown was found guilty, following a jury trial on
September 11, 2013, of one count of Drug Dealing Tier 4, 16
Del. C. § 4752(1); one count of Possession of
Marijuana with Aggravating Factors, 16 Del. C.
§ 4764(1); one count of Tier 5 Possession, 16 Del.
C. § 4752(3); one count of Carrying a Concealed
Deadly Weapon, 11 Del. C. § 1442; one count of
Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a
Felony, 11 Del. C. § 1447; one count of
Conspiracy in the Second Degree, 11 Del. C. §
512; and one count of Criminal Solicitation in the Second
Degree, 11 Del. C. § 502.
2. On October 17, 2013, the State filed a motion to declare
Mr. Brown an habitual offender. The Court granted the motion
on October 30, 2013 and sentenced him to life in prison on
both the Drug Dealing and Tier 5 Possession of Cocaine
charges. On the remaining charges, the Court sentenced Mr.
Brown to a total of twenty-seven years unsuspended time.
3. Mr. Brown filed a timely Notice of Appeal to the Delaware
Supreme Court. At oral argument, Mr. Brown's counsel
raised the issue before the Supreme Court that one of the
Office of Chief Medical Examiner's employees who had
handled the evidence seized in his case had been indicted for
improper conduct in evidence handling. The Supreme Court
remanded the case permitting Mr. Brown to file a Motion for
New Trial. On remand, the Superior Court denied the motion.
After further appellate proceedings, the Delaware Supreme
Court found no merit in any of Mr. Brown's claims and
affirmed his conviction and sentence.
4. Mr. Brown then filed his initial postconviction motion on
October 2, 2015 and several amended motions thereafter. His
appointed counsel ultimately filed a motion to withdraw
because he concluded that the motion was without merit and
that no meritorious grounds for relief existed. The Court
granted that motion on May 9, 2017. Mr. Brown then
supplemented his Rule 61 motion and after several revised
briefing schedules, the Commissioner considered his amended
5. The Commissioner recommended in her Report that the Court
deny Mr. Brown's Motion. The Court has reviewed the
Report and considered Mr. Brown's appeal challenging the
Report, which raises no new issues.
THEREFORE, after a de novo review of the
record in this action, review of the Report, and considering
Mr. Brown's appeal challenging the Report;
IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Commissioner's Report
and Recommendation attached as Exhibit "A" is
adopted by the Court in its entirety. Accordingly, Mr.
Brown's Motion for Postconviction Relief pursuant to
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 is DENIED.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Defendant's Amended Motion for Postconviction Relief
Pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
S. Hartman, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of
Justice, for the State of Delaware.
M. Brown, Pro se.
defendant, Ansara M. Brown ("Brown") was found
guilty, following a jury trial on September 11, 2013, of one
count of Drug Dealing Tier 4, 16 Del. C. §
4752(1); one count of Possession of Marijuana with
Aggravating Factors, 16 Del. C. C. §
4764(1); one count of Tier 5 Possession, 16 Del. C.
§ 4752(3); one count of Carrying a Concealed Deadly
Weapon, 11 Del. C. § 1442; one count of
Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a
Felony, 11 Del. C. § 1447; one count of
Conspiracy in the Second Degree, 11 Del. C. §
512 and one count of Criminal Solicitation in the Second
Degree, 11 Del. C. § 502. Prior to trial the
State severed one count of Possession of a Deadly Weapon By a
Person Prohibited and entered nolleprosequis for one
count of Possession of Marijuana and one count of
Racketeering. On October 17, 2013 the State filed a motion to
declare Brown an habitual offender. The Court granted the
motion on October 30, 2013 and sentenced Brown to life in
prison on both the Drug Dealing and Tier 5 Possession of
Cocaine charges. On the remaining charges he was sentenced to
a total of twenty-nine years and six months, suspended after
serving twenty-seven years Level V, for
timely Notice of Appeal was filed with the Delaware Supreme
Court by Brown's Trial Counsel. In the appeal the
following claims were raised: (1) that the trial court abused
its discretion in admitting the evidence obtained as a result
of the traffic stop; (2) that the trial court abused its
discretion in admitting into evidence telephone calls that
had been intercepted by the court-ordered wiretap; and (3)
that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting
cocaine into evidence when the State failed to establish an
adequate chain of custody.
argument Brown's counsel informed the Supreme Court that
one of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner's
("OCME") employees who had handled the evidence
seized in Brown's case had been indicted of alleged
improper practice. The Supreme Court remanded the case so
that Brown could file a Motion for New Trial. On remand, the
Superior Court denied the motion. Back at the Supreme Court
the parties filed supplemental briefs concerning the denial
of the new trial motion. The Delaware Supreme Court found no
merit in any of the claims and affirmed Brown's
conviction and sentence on June 17, 2015 stating in part:
We conclude that the Superior Court was within its discretion
to deny Brown's motion for a new trial. Although sloppy
evidence-handling practices and potentially worse behavior by
OCME employees is disappointing and regrettable, there is no
rational basis to infer that any sloppiness or other
improprieties at OCME resulted in any injustice to Brown.
Brown admits that he possessed cocaine in more than
sufficient amount to justify his convictions, and there was
overwhelming evidence of his guilt separate from the drugs
seized from him. Accordingly, we affirm the Superior
Court's denial of his motion for new trial.
filed his initial postconviction motion on October 2, 2015
and several amended motions thereafter. Ultimately
Christopher S. Koyste, Esquire ("Appointed
Counsel") was appointed to represent Brown in his
postconviction motion pursuant to Superior Court Criminal
Rule 61. After an extremely thorough and conscientious review
of the facts, the record and the law in the case, Appointed
Counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel having
concluded that the motion was wholly without merit and that
no meritorious grounds for relief existed. Brown was sent a
copy of the motion to withdraw and given 30 days to file a
Brown moved to supplement his Rule 61 motion on April 13,
2017. Appointed Counsel's motion to withdraw was granted
on May 9, 2017. After several revised brief schedules the
matter finally completed briefing and was sent for
are the facts as set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court:
Brown's arrest resulted from an extensive police
investigation into an alleged drug trafficking syndicate run
by Galen Brooks.FN 2 In addition to using
undercover purchasers and confidential informants, the police
obtained a warrant to wiretap Brooks' cell phones, and
conducted video surveillance Brooks' house and physical
surveillance of the entrance to his neighborhood. On May 31,
2012, officers listened to four calls, in which Brooks and an
unknown man arranged for the man to buy cocaine from Brooks.
In the last call, which took place at 5:35 . p.m., the man
told Brooks that he would be at Brooks' house in
approximately seven minutes to pick up the drugs. The
officers listening to the telephone conversations, including
Sergeant Lance Skinner of the Delaware State Police, relayed
that information to the officers conducting surveillance.
Sergeant Skinner then travelled to the area near Brooks'
house to wait for the unknown man.
At the same time, Detective Jordan Miller of the Dover Police
Department was conducting video surveillance of Brooks'
house. Detective Miller watched another man, John Price,
leave Brooks' home at 5:48 p.m.FN3 The police
were familiar with Price's voice and telephone number
from the investigation and believed that Price was not the
unknown man from the four telephone calls. Three minutes
after Price left, or roughly sixteen minutes after the fourth
phone call, and unknown woman and a man later identified as
Ansara Brown arrived at Brooks' home. Brooks came out to
meet them and they went around the side of the house, out of
view of the camera. Approximately five minutes later, Brown
and the woman left Brooks' home. Brooks himself left a
minute later, indicating to the police that he was no longer
waiting for the unknown man from the telephone call to
arrive. Detective Miller informed the other officers involved
with the investigation.
Sergeant Skinner followed Brown's vehicle in his patrol
car for two to three miles after it left Brooks' house.
Sargent Skinner then stopped the vehicle and asked Brown to
step outside on the pretext that there was a problem with his
registration. Sergeant Skinner testified at Brown's trial
that he recognized Brown's voice from the telephone calls
earlier that day.FN4 when Brown stepped out of his
vehicle, Sergeant Skinner arrested him. He then conducted a
pat-down search of Brown and found what he described as two
bags of cocaine contained in a pouch in brown's front
pocket. One of the bags contained three smaller bags, for a
total of five bags. Sergeant Skinner transported the drugs to
the police station, where two other officers, sergeant
Jeremiah Lloyd and Master Corporal Jeffrey Lavere,
field-tested and weighed the contents and sealed the bags to
transport to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
According to Sergeant Skinner's testimony at trial, three
of the bags contained crack, and one of the bags contained
powder cocaine.FN5 There was also a small amount
of powder cocaine in the bag that contained the three smaller
bags. The Delaware State Police Evidence Report indicated
that the bags together contained approximately 1.2 grams of
powder and 20 grams of crack cocaine.FN6
Sergeant Skinner searched Brown again at the police station
and found a small bag of marijuana and a pair of brass
knuckles in Brown's pocket. In a statement to the police,
Brown admitted that he had an ounce of cocaine (approximately
28 grams) and that he intended to sell it. He gave the police
his cell phone number, which matched the one captured on the
wiretap. After he was released, Brown was also recorded on a
wiretap speaking on the phone with Brooks, describing his
arrest and the seizure of the drugs, and assuring Brooks that
he would not 'fall short.'FN7
Ultimately, fourteen defendants were indicted for their
involvement in the drug syndicate, including Brooks and
Brown.FN8 Brown moved to sever his case from the
other defendants, which the Superior Court granted. Brown
also filed two pre-trial motions, one to suppress the
evidence seized from him following his arrest and another to
suppress the evidence from the wiretaps. The Superior Court
denied both of those motions.
At Brown's trial, Sergeant Skinner, Sergeant Lloyd, and
Master Corporal Lavere all testified about the cocaine seized
from Brown. Despite the evidence report filed by Sergeant
Lloyd and Master Corporal Lavere indicating that Sergeant
Skinner had seized 1.2 grams of powder cocaine from Brown,
Sargent Skinner testified that he had collected 8 grams of
powder cocaine from Brown, in addition to the three bars of
crack cocaine.FN9 Patricia Phillips, the OCME
forensic examined responsible for testing the cocaine seized
from Brown, also testified at trial. She stated that when she
received the envelope containing the drugs seized from Brown,
the seal was intact and there was no sign of tampering.
Phillips' report indicated that there were five bags of
cocaine, but in different quantities than the officers
indicated: one bag of 'white powder' containing 7.03
grams; one bag of 'white powder' containing 0.67
grams; and three bags of an 'off white chunky
substance' containing approximately 15.53
During Phillips' testimony, Brown objected to the
admission of the cocaine evidence. He contended that the
discrepancies between the Police Evidence Report and the
Medical Examiner's report suggested that there were
concerns with the integrity of the evidence, and thus its
admissibility.FN11 In particular, Brown emphasized
that the police officers' account of which bags contained
crack or powder did not match the Medical Examiner's
report.FN12 Brown's attorney requested that
she be able to question Phillips about the 'transport
from Troop 3 to the medical examiner's
office.FN13 The Superior Court denied that
request, noting that 10 Del. C. § 4331 defines
the chain of custody as the 'seizing officer, the
packaging officer, and the medical examiner, ' all of
whom had testified at Brown's trial, which Brown's
In responding to Brown's objection, Phillips clarified in
a sidebar with the superior Court and both attorneys that her
references to particular bags were not intended to correspond
to the officers.FN15 The State pointed out that
both reports described three bags of crack cocaine and one
bag of powder cocaine, in addition to the outer bag, which
contained a small amount of powder cocaine, although there
were weight differences between the reports of powder and
crack.FN16 Phillips also explained during the
sidebar that 'sometimes ... powder ... clumps together
and it appears to be a chunky substance when it is more
powdery.... My description is that it's chunky.
That's not a clinical or chemical differentiation. It is
a description of how the evidence appears.FN17 She
noted that because Delaware's drug laws do not
differentiate between powder and crack cocaine, she did not
specifically delineate the form of the cocaine beyond its
appearance in her report.FN18 Phillips also
explained that she did not weigh the drug packaging, which
the State offered as an explanation for the discrepancy
between the weight of the powder cocaine she testified to
compared to Sergeant Skinner's testimony, even though the
total amount of cocaine she reported (23.23 grams) was more
than that reported by the police (21.2 grams). The Superior
Court determined that the drug evidence was admissible,
noting that 'I don't think there's any reasonable
possibility that the drugs got mixed up with some other drugs
that were not on [Brown's] person into those
Following a three day trial, Brown was convicted by the jury
of one count each of drug dealing at Tier 4, aggravated
possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed
deadly weapon, possession of a deadly weapon during the
commission of a felony, conspiracy in the second degree,
criminal solicitation in the second degree, and possession of
marijuana. The Superior Court sentenced Brown as a habitual
offender to two life sentences for the charges of drug
dealing and aggravated possession of a controlled substance.
Brown was sentenced to twenty-nine years and six months'
imprisonment, suspended after 27 years, on the remaining
FN2 See State v. Brooks, 2013 WL 4051049
(Del. Super. July 30, 2013); see also Ayers v.
State, 97 A.3d 1037, 1038 (Del. 2014.)
FN3 The record does not indicate the time that
price arrived at Brooks' house.
FN4 App. To Opening Br. At 66 (Trial Test. Of
Skinner, Sept. 9, 2013).
FN5 Id. At 74.
FN6 Opening Br., Ex. F (Delaware State Police
State v. Brown, ID # 1205025968A, at
5 *Del. Super. Dec. 18, 2014) (letter ...