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Bordley v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

January 7, 2020

DAIQUAN BORDLEY, Defendant Below, Appellant,
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: November 6, 2019

          Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware Cr. ID. No. 1604019780

          Before SEITZ, Chief Justice; VAUGHN and TRAYNOR, Justices.


          James T. Vaughn, Jr. Justice.

         On this 7th day of January 2020, upon consideration of the parties' briefs, oral argument, and the record on appeal, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) Officers arrested Daiquan Bordley and co-conspirators Chelsea Braunskill and Zhyree Harmon in connection with a robbery-turned-murder that occurred at the Port Mahon fishing pier on the Delaware Bay. A grand jury indicted Bordley on counts of Murder First Degree, Robbery First Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Conspiracy Second Degree. Braunskill and Harmon entered into plea agreements and testified at Bordley's trial. Bordley's trial was by the Superior Court without a jury. The trial judge convicted Bordley on all counts. This appeal followed.

         (2) Bordley makes three claims on appeal. First, he contends that his due process rights[1] were violated because of prosecutorial misconduct. Second, he contends that his due process rights were violated because the trial judge admitted into evidence text messages that were not properly authenticated. Finally, he contends that his due process rights were violated because the trial judge did not consider whether notes Harmon had written impeached his trial testimony. We find no merit to Bordley's claims and affirm the trial judge's findings of guilt.

         (3) Bordley and Chelsea Braunskill devised a plan to lure Dontray Hendricks to the Port Mahon pier east of Little Creek for the purpose of robbing him. Braunskill and Hendricks knew each other through marijuana sales, with each having sold marijuana to the other. At some point, Harmon also joined the conspiracy. On the day of the murder, Braunskill contacted Hendricks and said she wanted to buy marijuana and smoke it with him that evening. They agreed that Hendricks would pick Braunskill up in his car. Braunskill invited her college roommate, Alexis Golden, to go along, and when evening came the three of them set out for the Port Mahon pier. As they drove to the pier, Braunskill texted Bordley to keep him informed of their activity. When they arrived at Port Mahon, Hendricks, Golden, and Braunskill walked out onto the pier and smoked marijuana. About 10 or 15 minutes later, Bordley, Harmon, and Harmon's brother-in-law, Christopher Gartner-Hunter, arrived at the pier in Bordley's vehicle. The three exited Bordley's vehicle and walked out on the pier. Bordley and Hendricks then engaged in what Golden called a tussle and Harmon described as wrestling. Bordley then shot and killed Hendricks. Braunskill's testimony was that Bordley "walked straight up to him and shot him."[2] Bordley, Harmon, and Gartner-Hunter then fled in Bordley's vehicle and Braunskill and Golden fled in Hendricks' vehicle.

         (4) Bordley's first contention is that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct - specifically witness intimidation - depriving him of his due process rights. During the defense's case, Bordley's counsel called Christopher Gartner-Hunter as a subpoenaed witness. After Gartner-Hunter had taken the witness stand and been sworn, but before defense counsel asked a question, one of the prosecutors, in open court, informed the trial judge, "Your Honor, before we begin testimony with this witness, I believe it would be appropriate for the Court to do a colloquy with him. He is still a suspect in this case, and he has not been arrested at this time."[3] The trial judge asked, "And then you request a colloquy?"[4] The prosecutor replied:

That's correct, Your Honor. The Court has heard testimony regarding Mr. Gartner-Hunter and his involvement. He has not been charged yet. It doesn't mean he will not be charged. I don't know if he's had any opportunity to meet with a defense attorney regarding whether or not he should testify.[5]

         Bordley's attorney then responded:

I think with a murder charge everyone could be a suspect. I believe Ms. Golden was a suspect at one point in time. I think the detective told us that. I would hate to see the State try to threaten this particular witness to silence him so he can't give information in Mr. Bordley's case. He had an attorney that represented him on several different charges that are out there pending.
When we spoke with him, we are going to try to limit his testimony to just the ride back from the pier that evening in a very select topic. So we are not going to go outside that topic, and I believe that when he speaks to that topic it will not be incriminating on his part. But, you know, he's over the age of 18. He was involved in this.
We are talking, Your Honor, also two-and-a-half years that the State comes forward now and says, "Well, he is still a suspect. We still might arrest him," just to quiet him on the stand. I think we have a lot of -- there was a similar incidence of intimidation, possible intimidation of another witness by the State. You know, Your Honor, we want the truth here. We want it to come out. It's going to be limited testimony.[6]

         The trial judge then engaged in the following colloquy with Gartner-Hunter:

The Court: Sir, are you represented by counsel?
The Witness: No, sir.
The Court: Have you consulted with counsel concerning any matters which you may be called to testify today?
The Witness: At one point in time I did.
The Court: All right. Is that counsel still representing you at the present time?
The Witness: No.
The Court: All right. Do you understand, I hope what's just been said in court, that -- I am not sure -- I'm the finder of fact and law here in this case, but I don't know what your involvement would be. But if there is a risk you are involved and there is a possibility that based ...

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