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State v. Layton

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

August 2, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MATTHEW A. LAYTON, Defendant.

          Submitted: July 18, 2018

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Granted.

          Gregory R. Babowal, Esquire of the Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the State.

          Anthony J. Capone, Esquire of the Office of the Public Defender, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.

          ORDER

          HON. WILLIAM L. WITHAM, JR. RESIDENT JUDGE

         Upon consideration of the Defendant's, Matthew A. Layton's, Motion to Suppress and the State of Delaware's Response in opposition, it appears that:

         1. On March 27, 2018, at approximately 6:32 P.M., Trooper First Class ("Tfc") Holl of the Delaware State Police observed a vehicle parked in an unmarked, paved area that extended past the side of the Sandtown Deli in Felton, Delaware. The paved area, although unmarked, appears to the Court to be an overflow lot for the deli.

         2. Three men were standing next to the vehicle with the doors open.

         3. The officer believed that the vehicle's location was suspicious, especially because the officer had previously arrested another individual in the same location for dealing drugs.

         4. As Tfc. Holl began to re-position his patrol vehicle to "conduct a stop" of the parked vehicle, he observed the three men get into the vehicle. The officer further observed the men shifting around in the vehicle, as if to possibly hide or conceal illegal contraband.

         5. Tfc. Holl then positioned his patrol vehicle in front of the parked vehicle, blocking the occupants from leaving. Next, the officer exited his vehicle and approached the occupants of the parked vehicle.

         6. The Defendant, sitting in the passenger seat of the parked vehicle, informed Tfc Holl that he had driven his own vehicle to the deli and that he was merely "talking" with another occupant of the parked vehicle, who he identified as his uncle. During this conversation, according to Tfc. Holl, the Defendant displayed "obvious signs of nervousness." The officer also noticed that the Defendant had a pocket knife, which he immediately turned over to the officer. Tfc. Holl subsequently instructed the Defendant to wait in front of the officer's patrol vehicle.

         7. Tfc. Holl asked the occupant located in the driver's seat of the vehicle how he was related to the Defendant. The occupant replied that he was not the Defendant's uncle, "however they were good friends." The occupant also confirmed that he and the Defendant were "talking" prior to the officer's approach. During this time, the Defendant paced back and forth in front of Tfc. Holl's vehicle.[1]

         8. After speaking with the occupant located in the driver's seat of the parked vehicle, Tfc. Holl approached the Defendant. The officer asked the Defendant why he appeared nervous. The Defendant stated that he was cold. But, Tfc. Holl noticed that he was wearing multiple layers of clothing, including a thick flannel shirt and hooded sweatshirt.

         9. Tfc. Holl also noticed a bulge in the front pocket of the Defendant's sweatshirt. As a result, the officer claimed that he decided to conduct a "pat-down" of the Defendant's clothing. However, the officer immediately reached out, grabbed the bulge, and asked "what is this? Is it crack?" The Defendant replied, "you know what that is, drugs man" and "I ain't gonna run dude, I ain't gonna run." Tfc. Holl removed the object from the interior of the Defendant's sweatshirt pocket.

         10.When asked again, "what is this?," the Defendant further stated that "it's a scale, and some crystal." "Crystal" referring, of course, to Methamphetamine. The Defendant also told Tfc. Holl that he was in possession of ...


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