April 26, 2019
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, C.A. Nos.
S16M-11-001 & S16M-12-002
Roderick Brown, pro se.
J. Garrison, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware
for Appellee State of Delaware.
STRINE, Chief Justice; SEITZ and TRAYNOR, Justices.
police arrested appellant Roderick Brown for drug dealing and
money laundering, they also seized several cars and tens of
thousands of dollars. Brown filed petitions for the return of
that property, but after an evidentiary hearing, the Superior
Court denied the bulk of Browns claims. Brown then filed
this appeal. Because we conclude that the State failed to
meet its burden for the seizure of two of Browns cars, we
reverse in part. We affirm the remainder of the Superior
A. The seizures
an investigation, Delaware State Police arrested Brown on
August 26, 2016, while he was sitting outside of 206 Houston
Circle in Millsboro, Delaware in a 2003 Honda Accord. The
police seized the Honda, which was registered to Brown, as
well as a set of keys from Browns person. The police also
executed a search warrant for an apartment at 206 Houston
Circle. In the apartment, police found cocaine, marijuana,
heroin, and $1,644 in cash. The police also found a computer
with the name "Brown" on the login screen, a
doctors appointment card for Brown, photos of Brown, and
unsigned mortgage papers bearing Browns name.
police also searched two garages in the Houston Circle
complex and seized a 2002 Mercedes-Benz, which is not at
issue in this appeal, and a 1972 Cadillac, which was
registered to Brown. The police searched the garage in which
the Cadillac was stored because the owner of that garage told
police that Brown paid her $50 per month to keep a car in the
garage. The police found no drugs or other contraband in the
Cadillac or in the garage. The police seized the Cadillac
because they believed that Brown had purchased it with the
proceeds of drug sales.
police also executed a search warrant for a property on Berry
Road in Frankford and seized a 1968 Oldsmobile registered to
Brown parked behind the property. As with the Cadillac, the
police seized the Oldsmobile because they believed that it
had been purchased with drug proceeds. The police found no
drugs or other contraband in the Oldsmobile or at the Berry
their investigation, the police learned that Brown stored
drugs and drug proceeds at a property on El Coleman Drive in
Millsboro. The police searched the El Coleman property and
found cocaine, heroin, drug packaging materials, digital
scales, guns, ammunition, $3,813 in cash, and two
keys from the El Coleman property were for two safe deposit
boxes at PNC Bank branches in Millsboro and Selbyville, but
only the contents of the Millsboro safe deposit box are at
issue in this appeal. The police obtained and executed search
warrants for the safe deposit boxes. In the Millsboro safe
deposit box (owned by Brown and a woman named Shawanda Knox),
the police found $73,000 separated into $1,000 stacks. Brown
and Knox also had two bank accounts at PNC Bank. One account
contained $2,513 and the other account contained $2,022.52.
The police seized the cash in the safe deposit boxes and the
funds in the bank accounts because they believed that the
money constituted proceeds from the sale of drugs. Brown
originally denied ownership of the money in the Millsboro
safe deposit box and bank accounts. Police sent the cash to
the Delaware National Guard for forensic testing.