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. Bell

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

August 28, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
DUSTIN BELL, Defendant.

          Submitted: August 26, 2019

         Upon Defendant's Motion to suppress GRANTED

          ORDER

          Noel Eason Primos Judge

         On this the 28th day of August, 2019, having considered the Motion to Suppress of Defendant Dustin Bell (hereinafter "Defendant") and the State's response, as well as the arguments of the parties presented at the hearing held on August 26, 2019, the Court finds that the search warrant affidavit does not establish probable cause to obtain a sample of Defendant's DNA, and the motion to suppress is GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         The allegations of the affidavit of probable cause attached to the search warrant (hereinafter the "Affidavit") are, in summary, as follows:

         On January 10, 2019, Detective Brian Beck of the Delaware State Police (hereinafter "Affiant"), along with officers from Troop 3 and members of the Delaware State Police Special Operations Unit, executed a search warrant on a residence located at 212 Wheat Drive in Marydel, Delaware (hereinafter the "Residence"). The Residence was allegedly occupied by Defendant as well as other individuals, namely Lindsey Harris, Justin Sarria, and Richard Harris.

         During a search of the Residence, numerous firearms, illegal narcotics, and drug paraphernalia were recovered. In the room known to be occupied by both Lindsey Harris and Defendant, officers located one High Point 9mm pistol, two baggies containing approximately 11.33 grams of meth, one baggie containing approximately 1.65 grams of marijuana, and one baggie containing 1.5 pills of Methylphenidate. Additional firearms, illegal narcotics, and drug paraphernalia were seized from the rooms known to be occupied by Mr. Sarria and by Richard Harris.

         Based upon the evidence recovered, Affiant applied for a search warrant to take a buccal swab from the inside of Defendant's cheek for a DNA sample. The Affidavit states that "the sample will be used to compare any DNA evidence that is collected off of any of the firearms and drug paraphernalia seized not only from the known room of Target Subject [Defendant], but also from the other rooms of the residence." Defendant challenges the issuance of this search warrant, arguing that the four corners of the search warrant affidavit do not establish probable cause to obtain his DNA.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion to suppress challenging the validity of a search warrant, the defendant bears the burden of establishing that the challenged search or seizure was unlawful.[1] A search warrant may not issue unless there is a showing of a factual basis for probable cause within the "four corners" of the affidavit that was submitted to the magistrate in the officer's application for the warrant.[2]

         When considering the affidavit, the magistrate is to make a "practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the 'veracity' and 'basis of knowledge' of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place."[3] In other words, a logical nexus must be established between the items being sought and the place that law enforcement wishes to search.[4]

         A magistrate's determination of probable cause "should be paid great deference by reviewing courts" and should not "take the form of a de novo review."[5]In determining whether probable cause exists to obtain a search warrant, Delaware courts apply a "totality of the circumstances" test.[6] In considering "whether the warrant application presented the issuing magistrate with a 'substantial basis' to conclude that probable cause existed," this Court "eschews 'a hypertechnical approach to the evaluation of the search warrant affidavit in favor of a common-sense interpretation.'"[7]

         III. Discussion

         Defendant's main contention for the suppression of his seized DNA evidence is that absent law enforcement recovery of a comparison sample of DNA, a DNA swab search warrant is unsupported by probable cause. The Affidavit states that the sample of Defendant's DNA obtained through the buccal swab "will be used to compare any DNA evidence that is collected" (emphasis supplied), thus confirming that no such DNA evidence had been collected at the time of the application.

         Defendant argues that pursuant to State v. Campbell[8] the unsupported belief of Affiant that DNA evidence may be recovered from an object fails to establish the necessary nexus between Defendant's DNA and the evidence obtained from the crime scene. Defendant also cites decisions from other jurisdictions holding that only when law enforcement has previously recovered a comparison sample of DNA is there probable cause for a DNA search warrant.

         The State, in response, argues that a DNA warrant does not require a heightened finding other than probable cause and that Delaware courts have expressly rejected the requirement that police obtain a DNA sample from the evidence seized from the crime scene before applying for a search warrant of the defendant's DNA. The purpose of collecting the buccal swab in this case was to compare Defendant's DNA to any DNA collected from the firearms and drug paraphernalia previously seized. Therefore, the magistrate could ...


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.