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State v. Palmer

Superior Court of Delaware

September 30, 2019

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
MICHAEL K. PALMER, Defendant.

          Submitted: September 19, 2019

          In and for Kent County

          Nicole S. Hartman, Esquire

          John R. Garey, Esquire

          ORDER

         Upon Defendant's Motion to Suppress DENIED

         Upon consideration of Defendant Michael Palmer's (hereinafter "Defendant") Motion to Suppress of and the State's response, as well as the evidence and closing arguments presented at the hearing held on September 19, 2019, the Court finds that the police had probable cause to seize Defendant and search the Vehicle and the Package, and therefore the motion to suppress is DENIED.

         I. Factual Background

         In January 2019, a confidential informant relayed information to Detective Joshua Boesenberg of the Dover Police Department that Defendant was sending mail laced with controlled substances to a Delaware Department of Correction facility from 16 Evergreen Circle, Dover, Delaware (hereinafter "the Residence"). The confidential informant also informed Detective Boesenberg that Defendant was in possession of firearms and that he lived at the Residence with an individual named Jasmine Street. The police later confirmed that the Residence was owned or leased by an individual named Michael Street."

         In February 2019, Homeland Security Investigations (hereinafter "HSI") Special Agent Sean Downey informed the Dover Police Department as well as U.S. Postal Service officials in Dover that Customs and Border Patrol had intercepted a U.S. Postal Service package (hereinafter the "Package"), addressed to the Residence, that contained illicit narcotics. Law enforcement authorities arranged for the Package to be delivered to the post office located at 55 Loockerman Plaza, Dover, Delaware (hereinafter the "Post Office"), where it would be provided to the recipient.

         On February 21, 2019, an individual later identified as Sheldon Claud entered the Post Office and inquired about the Package. A postal worker instructed Mr. Claud to call a general information phone number to inquire further about the Package. A call was made on the evening of February 21 to the phone number that had been provided to Mr. Claud. On February 22, 2019, a postal service agent contacted the number from which the inquiry had been made on the evening of February 21 and left information that the Package had been located and could be picked up at the Post Office on February 22.

         On February 22, Detective Matthew Krough of the Dover Police Department observed Defendant leave the Residence in a silver Dodge Caravan (hereinafter the "Vehicle"). Later that day, Detective Boesenberg and Special Agent Downey, who were seated in a vehicle outside the Post Office, observed the Vehicle enter the vicinity of the Post Office and park nearby. Defendant was in the driver's seat, and an individual later identified as Mr. Claud was in the passenger's seat. Defendant then drove the Vehicle to the other side of the Post Office. Detective Boesenberg and Special Agent Downey, along with Master Corporal Jordan Miller of the Dover Police Department, who was stationed on the other side of the Post Office, believed that Defendant and his passenger were engaging in counter-surveillance: Defendant and Mr. Claud drove slowly around the Post Office, remained inside the Vehicle, and eventually left the area.

         Master Corporal Miller followed the Vehicle and observed Defendant park in front of 30 South New Street, Dover, Delaware. Mr. Claud exited the Vehicle, entered the building, and soon returned with another unknown individual later identified as Stanley Stanford. After Mr. Claud and Mr. Stanford entered the Vehicle, Defendant drove back to the Post Office and parked nearby. All three men exited the Vehicle but walked separately as they entered the Post Office. A Postal Service agent inside the Post Office texted Special Agent Downey, informing him that someone had signed for the Package and was now carrying it out of the building. Master Corporal Miller observed Mr. Stanford carrying the Package, accompanied by Defendant and Mr. Claud. Defendant, Mr. Stanford, and Mr. Claud were taken into custody after they returned to the Vehicle. Master Corporal Miller conducted a pat down search of Defendant and recovered $6, 904.00 in cash.

         The Vehicle was impounded and searched. Law enforcement found the Package inside the Vehicle with the narcotics previously discovered by Customs and Border Patrol. Law enforcement also recovered other illegal drugs, a firearm, other contraband, and mail addressed to a Department of Correction facility laced with narcotics.

         II. ...


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