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State v. Washington

Superior Court of Delaware

July 12, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff,
v.
HANIF WASHINGTON, Defendant.

          Date Submitted: May 17, 2019

         Upon Consideration of Defendant Hanif Washington's Motion to Suppress DENIED.

          Zachary Rosen, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for State.

          James O. Turner, Jr., Esquire, Assistant Public Defender, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant.

          Calvin L. Scott, Jr. Judge.

         Before the Court is a Defendant Hanif Washington's Motion to Suppress. Defendant argues that the evidence seized as a result of his arrest September 15, 2018, was seized illegally and is in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Delaware; and under Delaware law. A suppression hearing was held before this Court on May 17, 2019. The Court is now prepared to render its decision.

         Findings of Fact

         In September 2018, Officer Gruber of the New Castle County Police Department received information that a male by the name of Hanif Washington was selling heroin in the area of Kirkwood Highway. The informant additionally provided a phone number which, through computer inquiries, was determined to be associated with Defendant on multiple occasions. Upon further inquiry, Officer Gruber discovered that Defendant had a capias from the Rehoboth Alderman's Court for failure to appear and a suspended license.

         On September 15, 2018, Officer Gruber engaged in a text message conversation with the aforementioned phone number to arrange a drug transaction. In that conversation, Officer Gruber texted "can I get 6," immediately followed up with "6 B's," to which the recipient replied "when n where." Officer Gruber testified that he has learned from his training and experience that a "B" is shorthand for a bundle, which signifies 13 bags of heroin bound together with a rubber band - a common method of transporting, storing, and selling heroin. The parties arranged to meet at a Royal Farms located on Kirkwood Highway and Defendant informed Officer Gruber that the six bundles of heroin would cost $100.

         Upon establishing surveillance at the location, officers observed a white Chrysler enter the parking lot. Around the same time, Defendant texted Officer Gruber that he was in a white car. Officers established that the white Chrysler was registered to an individual who Officer Gruber had previously confirmed was the mother of Defendant's children. Defendant was then taken into custody. Officers did not recover any drugs in Defendant's possession.

         In the affidavit of probable cause, dated September 16, 2018, Officer Gruber also avers the following:

[W]hen taking Hanif into custody, he stated "what are you all looking for dope?" and started laughing, then stated "I'm smarter than you all." I observed a red cell phone iPhone 7 in the vehicle, which when I called Hanif s number ... it rang. Further, when I responded to the back of the car to speak with Hanif he made a whole unsolicited statement advising that he knew why we were out here. He further made an unsolicited statement saying that he was just going to drive her (the female he thought he was selling to) into the city to meet up with one of his friends so they could pick up the heroin and he could sell it to her. . . . Hanif was provided Miranda warnings which he waived. He again stated he was just going to pick up the individual that he was at the Royal Farms to meet, and was going to drive them to the intersection of Sycamore and Van Buren to pick up the six bundles to then sell.
Hanif provided me consent to search his phone and signed a consent waiver for the same. I observed text messages from my phone to his, and he confirmed that he was the one texting to set up the deal.

         Parties' ...


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