Clayton Police chief’s trial on DUI charge to begin Monday

DOVER — After more than 14 months a northern Kent County police chief is scheduled to face a misdemeanor first offense DUI of alcohol charge in a Court of Common Pleas trial scheduled for Monday morning.

Clayton Police Chief Brian C. Hill, 48, of Dover, was placed on paid administrative leave during a town council meeting to discuss the situation shortly after the alleged late night incident near Clayton on Aug. 12, 2017.

Lt. Carl Hudson was named the town’s acting chief of police at the time.

Chief Hill pleaded not guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, and requested a jury trial. The trial was first scheduled for Jan. 29, 2018. The trial was later continued at his attorney’s request until April 4, 2018. On March 23, 2018, the Delaware Department of Justice filed a letter providing continuing discovery to defense attorney James E. Liguori.

On Nov. 29, 2017, according to a court docket, a plea offer was rejected.

Brian C. Hill

Through his attorney, the chief filed a motion to suppress results of an intoxilyzer test conducted by Delaware State Police at Troop 9 in Odessa after he was taken from the scene on Sunnyside Road near Clayton, according to court documents. The matter was submitted to Judge Anne Hartnett Reigle on June 10, 2018.

In a 10-page decision on Aug. 7, 2018, the Court recounted supposed circumstances of Chief Hill’s situation and compared it to past case law that she found justified probable cause to make an arrest.

The trooper arrived to find Chief Hill’s disabled vehicle on railroad tracks at approximately 10 p.m., according to the judge’s order. The chief was familiar with the area due to patrol duties, two signs existed and no other roads were nearby that could be mistaken for a turn, the Court reasoned.

The judge also pointed to statements the police chief reportedly made, his glassy eyes and stuttered speech seen and heard by a trooper, and an attempt to call a friend and fellow officer rather than a tow truck, according to papers.

Defense counsel argued that an odor of alcohol and traffic violation was insufficient to establish probable cause for a DUI investigation and State Police improperly took Chief Hill from the scene and mishandled field sobriety and intoxilyzer tests afterward, according to the order.

Chief Hill was also charged with an improper lane change violation.

According to Delaware Code, a first offense DUI conviction results in a fine of $500 to $1,500 or not more than a year in prison, or both. A prison sentence may be suspended.

Deputy Attorney General John W. Donahue represented the Delaware Department of Justice at a suppression hearing on April 9.

According to the town in August 2017, the police chief was paid $80,828.80 annually. On Friday, the town reported his yearly salary as $82,451,20.

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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