Submitted: April 8, 2019
Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Denied.
A. Motoyoshi, Esquire of the Department of Justice, Dover,
Delaware; attorney for the State.
Suzanne MacPherson-Johnson, Esquire of the Office of the
Public Defender, Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge.
before the Court is Defendant Brent M. Harris (hereinafter
"Defendant") and his Motion to
Suppress. After carefully considering the
Defendant's motion, the State's response in
opposition, and oral arguments made at the suppression
hearing, it appears to the Court that:
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
May 18, 2018 at approximately 5:50 p.m., Delaware State
Trooper Corporal Demalto (hereinafter "Cpl.
Demalto"), observed a light blue Buick Le Sabre with a
Maryland registration, traveling westbound on Delaware State
Route 42 (hereinafter "Route 42") west of Cheswold,
Delaware. Cpl. Demalto was on the lookout for a Buick that
matched that description from a report that it had been
previously observed by the members of the Governor's Task
Force at a Wal-Mart located at 36 Jerome Driver, in Dover,
Delaware, as part of an ongoing criminal drug
Cpl. Demalto began to follow the Buick, he observed that it
was following a preceding Sports Utility Vehicle (hereinafter
"SUV") "within a dangerously close
proximity." Cpl. Demalto testified that he estimated
that the Buick was less than one car length from the SUV,
consistently tapping his brakes, and swerving from side to
After approximately four miles, Cpl. Demalto observed the
Buick pass the SUV on its right hand side as the SUV was
attempting to make a left hand turn, without utilizing its
right turn signal. As a result of this, and his previous
observations, Cpl. Demalto initiated a traffic stop on the
Buick. As a result of the traffic stop, the Defendant, the
driver and sole occupant of the Buick, was arrested and
charged with, amongst other drug related charges: (1) 1 count
of Following a Vehicle Too Closely, a violation of 21
Del. C. § 4123; and (2) 1 count of No Turn
Signal, a violation of 21 Del. C. §
Defendant subsequently filed this untimely motion to suppress
on February 11, 2019, moving to suppress all evidence seized
as a result of Cpl. Demalto's alleged illegal
search. The State's response in opposition was
filed on March 12, 2019. A suppression hearing, including
oral arguments, was held on April 8, 2019 and the Court
reserved its decision at that time.
Defendant argues that the traffic stop conducted by Cpl.
Demalto was pretexual and made in furtherance of a criminal
investigation and surveillance associated with that
investigation, rather than any traffic infraction observed by
Cpl. Demalto. He specifically argues that since Cpl. Demalto
had no probable cause to believe the Defendant had violated a