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State v. Fields

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

July 2, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
RANDY FIELDS, Defendant.

          Submitted: May 30, 2018

          Julie Mayer, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Attorney for the State of Delaware

          Joseph Hurley, Esquire Attorney At Law Attorney for Defendant

          DECISION AFTER TRIAL

          Alex J. Smalls, Chief Judge.

         On January 7, 2018, Randy Fields, ("Defendant") was arrested by the Delaware State Police and charged with the following offenses; Assault Third Degree in violation of 11 Del. C. §0611; Reckless Endangering Second Degree in violation of 11 Del. C. §0603; and Malicious Interference with Emergency Communications in violation of 11 Del. C. §1313. The Court reserved the decision following a trial on May 30, 2018.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         After a verbal colloquy and execution of a written waiver, the Defendant elected to waive his right to a jury trial, and have the case heard 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 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 in hearing and knowing the facts about which they testified, and any bias or interest that they may have concerning the nature of the case.[2]

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The following facts were presented as evidence at trial. The State's first witness, Hanna Purse ("Hanna"), the Defendant's prior girlfriend at the time of the incident around January of 2018, and is a Junior at the University of Delaware. Hanna testified that she and the Defendant dated for approximately three (3) years. On January 7, 2018, Hanna went to hang out at the Defendant's house and watch him and his friend Jordan Swann ("Jordan") play video games. Later that day, Hanna offered to drive the Defendant and his friend Jordan to the gym. Hanna remained at the gym while the males worked out. Thereafter, they all decided to go to Wal-Mart to purchase food to take back to the Defendant's house. Jordan's girlfriend picked him up from the gym and the Defendant and Hanna drove in her vehicle towards Wal-Mart. While driving, Hanna testified that she told the Defendant she was failing at school and his response was "it's your fault, you are stupid and worthless." Hanna testified the Defendant started getting angry and aggressive and began yelling so Hanna yelled back. Hanna further testified the Defendant then hit her in the side of her face causing her head to hit the driver's side window. At that point, she pulled into a parking lot.

         Hanna first testified that after she parked she told Defendant she was going to call her dad who is a police officer and Defendant snatched the phone out of her hand and threw it on the floor by his feet. She then changed her testimony that her phone may have been in the center console and the Defendant grabbed it before she could. Hanna further testified that she kept trying to grab her phone so Defendant put her in a headlock and told her to never disrespect or talk like that to him again. Hanna further testified he later freed her from the headlock and called Jordan to come pick him up while continuing to push her body away from her phone. Jordan showed up within two (2) minutes and Defendant exited Hanna's vehicle and went with Jordan.

         After Defendant left, Hanna testified she called her dad who arrived to where she was parked. She then realized one of the four (4) earrings she wears in her left ear had been punctured through her ear and was bleeding. She later found the earring on her car seat. Hanna and her father drove home and called the police. When they got home Hanna took a picture of the left side of her face.[3] Hanna testified she attempted to make contact with Defendant through telephone calls and social media to ask him "why he did it."

         On cross-examination, Hanna testified that her relationship with Defendant had no problems prior to this incident. Defense counsel questioned Hanna about the statement to the police officer regarding what happened to her phone in the car which was different to her present testimony that the Defendant did not "smack" the phone out of her hand. Defense counsel also demonstrated how difficult it would be for Defendant to put Hanna in a choke hold with each arm, showing the difference in Hanna's testimony and the police report.

         Trooper Marco Ferraro ("Ferraro") testified he was assigned to investigate the incident. Ferraro responded to Hanna's residence regarding a domestic violence call and interviewed Hanna without her parents present. Ferraro testified Hanna had a red mark on her forehead and her ear lobe had blood on it. After Ferraro left Hanna's residence he called the Defendant to get his version of events. Ferraro instructed Defendant to report to Troop 2 where he was arrested for the above offenses.

         On redirect, Hanna testified regarding a print out of a text message.[4] Hanna testified this text message was sent from her to Jordan about one (1) week after the incident which stated in part, "I'm gonna do everything I can to make sure ...


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