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State v. McElderry

Superior Court of Delaware

October 1, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
LAMAR MCELDERRY, Defendant.

          Submitted: September 14, 2018

         Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Suppress, DENIED.

          Rebecca Song, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for the State.

          James O. Turner, Jr., Esquire, Assistant Public Defender, Office of Defense Services, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Defendant.

          OPINION

          Vivian L. Medinilla Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Lamar McE1derry ("Defendant") filed this Motion to Suppress after he was approached by police while sitting as a passenger in a parked vehicle in the early morning hours in Wilmington. Defendant argues that the officers seized him in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, and Delaware statutory law. For the reasons that follow, this Court finds that the officer had reasonable articulable suspicion to justify the seizure in this case. As such, Defendant's Motion to Suppress is DENIED.

         RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

         On April 7, 2018, at approximately 1:05 a.m., Wilmington Police Department Officers Coffiey and Vasquez were patrolling the area of E. 10th Street and N. Kirkwood Street, identified as a high drug, high crime area. The Officers observed a tan 2001 Mercury Marquis with Delaware registration parked on the 600 Block of E. 10th Street. The vehicle was registered to a Newark, Delaware address. When the Officers passed the vehicle, the driver and rear passenger of the vehicle ducked down in their seats as if to hide or conceal their presence.

         After the officers drove around the block and returned to the vehicle, they parked directly behind it and did not activate their emergency equipment. The Officers contacted WILCOM for officer safety due to the location and time of night, and reported to dispatch that they were conducting a "suspicious vehicle stop." Officers Vasquez and Coffiey approached the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle, respectively.

         The Driver, James Delgenio ("Driver") was asked by Officer Vasquez what he was doing in the area, and he responded that he was giving a "buddy" and his girlfriend a ride home. Driver's "buddy" was Defendant, seated in the passenger seat; the "girlfriend," Tyeshia Carroll ("Passenger"), was seated in the rear seat. Defendant provided a different answer to Officer Coffiey and told the officer that he knew neither Driver nor Passenger, and was just getting a ride home.

         Officer Coffiey testified that Defendant appeared nervous, and refused to make eye contact, instead staring straight forward while the officer spoke to him. When Officer Coffiey asked Defendant for his name, he gave the name "Cordell Young." Defendant continued to stare straight ahead and continued to appear nervous. The officer asked Defendant to look at him and instantly recognized him by his real name from a drug arrest made four months prior.[2] Officer Coffiey told Defendant he knew Defendant to be Lamar McEldeny and that he was placing him under arrest for Criminal Impersonation. Upon command to exit, Defendant stepped out of the vehicle and immediately reached for his waistband. The Officer testified he believed Defendant was armed and "going for" a weapon.[3] Officer Coffiey managed to gain control of Defendant's hands and placed him in handcuffs.

         A pat-down search for weapons yielded a hard rock-like substance in a clear plastic baggy in Defendant's waistband area that the officer believed to be crack cocaine. As the officer continued to search Defendant's pockets, Defendant turned away and started running while in handcuffs. Officer Coffiey chased after him and placed him into custody. Defendant also had $402 on his person. A vehicle search was conducted wherein the officers found a Samsung cell phone on the front passenger seat that Defendant admitted was his. A DELJIS search showed Defendant had two active capiases. Defendant was indicted for Drug Dealing Tier 2, Resisting Arrest, and Criminal Impersonation.

         Defendant filed this Motion to Suppress on August 7, 2018. The State responded on August 30, 2018, and a hearing was held on September 14, 2018. Having considered all pleadings ...


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