Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Love

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

September 27, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
IKEEN L. LOVE, Defendant.

          Submitted: September 13, 2018

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress Denied

          Lindsay A. Taylor, Esquire of the Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the State of Delaware.

          Zachary A. George, Esquire of Hudson, Jones, Jaywork, & Fisher, LLC, Dover, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Hon. William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge.

         Before this Court is Defendant Ikeen L. Love's ("Love") Motion to Suppress evidence seized from searches conducted by the Delaware Department of Corrections Probation and Parole ("Probation") and a statement taken subsequent to his arrest. Love is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited[1] and Possession of Firearm Ammunition by a Person Prohibited.[2] After careful consideration of all submissions and oral arguments, the motion is denied.

         FACTS

         On February 12, 2018, Probation Officer (PO) Ricky Porter ("Porter") reviewed a Snap Chat video post depicting Love[3] in possession of what appeared to be three firearms[4] while parked outside a known probationer's home in a silver Ford SUV.[5] Love, a Level III probationer and a person prohibited, was subsequently identified by the Dover Gang Intelligence Unit and Delaware State Bureau of Identification (SBI). A DACS[6] search indicated that Love resided at 390 Post Blvd., Dover, but had not had a positive home visit with Probation in two years. Further investigation in DELJIS showed Love had used a phone number associated with 21 Clark's Corner in Harrington, [7] the residence of Randi Harris ("Harris"), who had a "no-contact" order against Love.[8] Porter, suspecting Love was lying about his residence due to his negative home visit history and connection to Harris, asked his partner to coordinate a drive-by of 21 Clark's Corner to verify the presence of Love's vehicle from the Snap Chat posting.[9] Harrington Police later viewed a silver Ford Expedition, with a distinctive red steering wheel cover, parked at 21 Clark's Corner on the initial drive-by and a subsequent drive-by the next day.

         After receiving the subsequent verification on February 13, Porter contacted the Clark's Corner property manager and asked if she was familiar with Love or the Expedition. The manager confirmed the Expedition was parked outside the residence, but was unfamiliar with Love. Porter emailed a photograph of Love to the manager and asked if she could make any further identification. Approximately an hour later, she reported to Harrington Police that a man matching the photograph had recently departed the residence in the Expedition.

         Porter, believing Love was en route to Melvin's office, contacted her and asked to be notified when he arrived. Upon his arrival later, Porter made contact with Love and obtained his consent to search the Expedition.[10] Porter's search yielded one BB-gun from the Snap Chat posting, but no other weapons. Deducing from the evidence already uncovered, Porter reasoned the outstanding weapons may be located at 21 Clark's Corner. In accordance with Probation Procedure 7.19 ("7.19") protocols, Porter obtained an administrative search warrant to search 21 Clark's Corner.[11] The search yielded a .357 magnum and ammunition, resulting in Love's arrest.[12] Love subsequently waived Miranda rights and made a statement.[13]

         Love filed this motion to suppress evidence and the statement obtained as a result of those searches.[14] This Court heard oral arguments on September 13, 2018, and reserved judgment on the motion.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Reasonable Suspicion to Search Love's Residence.

         Love argues that the .357 magnum seized should be suppressed, first because Porter failed to follow 7.19 and second, because an insufficient nexus existed between the Snap Chat video posting and 21 Clark's Corner.[15] For the forthcoming reasons, this Court disagrees.

         The Constitution of the United States and the State of Delaware protects individuals, including probationers, from unreasonable searches and seizures.[16]Probation is a criminal sanction[17] however, and thus, probationers do not have the same liberties as ordinary citizens.[18] While Delaware probation officers are authorized to conduct searches of probationers, [19] probationers never "surrender all [ ] privacy rights" simply because they are on probation.[20] It has been long settled in Delaware that suspicionless searches of probationers are unlawful.[21] As a result, Delaware follows the "reasonable suspicion" standard in justifying searches of probationers.[22] "Reasonable suspicion" exists when the "totality of the circumstances" indicate a "particularized and objective basis" for suspecting a probationer of wrong doing.[23]

         To ensure probationers' rights are protected, Probation adopted regulations governing searches of probationers.[24] A probation officer is deemed to have acted reasonably so long as they "substantial[ly] compl[y]" with regulations.[25]

         a. Porter's alleged failure to comply with 7.19

         Love first argues that Porter had insufficient reason to believe he possessed firearms and failed to comply with 7.19.[26] 7.19 provides guidelines to consider when determining the reasonableness of a probationer search including:

1) Sufficient reason to believe the offender possesses contraband;
2) Sufficient reason to believe the offender is in violation of probation/parole;
3) Information from a reliable informant, indicating offender possesses contraband or is violating the law;
4) Information from the informant is corroborated; and
5) Approval obtained from [a] Supervisor, Manager, or Director is granted.[27]

         In this case, this Court finds Porter was not just in "substantial compliance" with 7.19, but in full compliance. First, Porter testified under oath that he followed all protocols of 7.19.[28] Second, the evidence presented supports Porter's testimony and demonstrated he had sufficient reason to believe that Love possessed firearms, a probation violation. This belief was not based on any unsubstantiated and/or anonymous tip, but rather on Porter's knowledge and experience with firearms and probationers; coupled with Love's own admission of having "three straps." Third, Porter had suspicions regarding Love's negative home visit history that were heightened when he learned of Trice's disclosure to Melvin.[29] Finally, in accordance with 7.19, Porter obtained authorization from his supervisor prior to conducting a administrative warrant search at 21 Clark's Corner.[30]

         Assuming arguendo, that Porter was not in full compliance with 7.19, that in itself is not fatal to the State's case. In Pendleton, our Supreme Court, finding an probation officer achieved "substantial compliance:" held:

[ ]'s failure to complete the technical requirements does not negate the importance of his discussion of the five factors with [the supervisor]. Although he did not physically fill out the pre-search checklist, [ ]'s conduct fulfills the spirit of the guidelines. In analyzing the factors, rationally assessing the facts known to him, and obtaining supervisory approval, [ ] ensured that the Department of Corrections had sufficient grounds before searching Pendleton's home.[31]

         Likewise in Fuller, our Supreme Court again held substantial, not full, compliance was sufficient.[32] The Fuller Court stated:

[ ] purpose of [7.19] is to ensure that [Probation] has sufficient grounds before undertaking a search. The individual procedures advance that goal but are not independently necessary, as demonstrated by the fact that the regulations explicitly state exceptions for when the search checklist need not be used.[33]

         Thus, this Court finds Porter fully complied with 7.19 and that the resulting administrative search of 21 Clark's Corner was lawful.

         b. Insufficient nexus - 21 Clark's Corner and Snap Chat posting

         Love next argues an insufficient nexus exists between the video posting and the search of 21 Clark's Corner.[34] Love contends that even if Porter had a reasonable belief that he possessed firearms, 21 Clark's Corner was not where the Snap Chat posting was created and additionally the search of 21 Clark's Corner took place 4 days after its posting, thus, creating the lack of nexus and an unlawful search.

         In support, Love relies upon State v. Fax[35] and State v. Johnson, [36] both cases involving administrative searches of probationers that resulted in this Court suppressing evidence due to a lack of nexus. Here, however, Love's reliance on those cases appears misplaced.

         In Fax, a probationer tested positive for marijuana, yet was not cited for a violation of probation.[37] Fifteen days later, another probation officer discovered Fax's positive urinalysis and based an administrative search request solely on that failed test.[38] Probation officers searching Fax's home later found drugs, including cocaine and heroin.[39] In suppressing the evidence, this Court held that the fifteen day old failed urinalysis was not sufficient to establish ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.