Court upholds Hartly man’s DUI conviction

DOVER — A Hartly man’s quest to overturn his DUI conviction and lengthy prison sentence was denied in Delaware Supreme Court last week, with four claims deemed lacking merit and a fifth ruled to be irrelevant.

Dale A. Guilfoil was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended after six years, on June 8, 2015; the case centered on an incident after a yard sale in Hartly where he was contacted by police while in a truck in a driveway on July 6, 2014.

Dale A. Guilfoil

Dale A. Guilfoil

Guilfoil was sentenced in Superior Court as a seven-time DUI offender, according to the court order, though other offenses had been recorded.

The Supreme Court agreed with Guilfoil’s claim that an investigating Delaware State Police trooper was not qualified to be an expert in administering an eye test that was admitted as evidence, but that did not outweigh other evidence described as “overwhelming” and pointing toward a conviction.

Otherwise, the Supreme Court found Guilfoil’s defense that the truck was inoperable due to a broken transmission correctly was disregarded by a jury since no expert testimony had been given that established that.

The Supreme Court also noted the defense was allowed “to argue that Guilfoil was ‘stranded’ and ‘unable to drive anywhere.’

“Consequently, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting defense counsel’s closing argument. Nor was Guilfoil subject to undue prejudice.”

Also, the Supreme Court maintained that even though an Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s employee who handled a blood sample was disciplined for recreational drug use, he was not required to testify. The Superior Court judge had “ordered the state to provide defense counsel” with the employee’s address to possibly serve a subpoena.

The Supreme Court also said that since the information was provided to the defense before the trial and any delay was inadvertent, the jury could consider it.

Additionally, the Supreme Court found the employee “was disciplined for conduct unrelated to his employment at OCME and which did not implicate tampering with evidence …”

The employee did not have to testify at trial to establish a chain of custody, since the Delaware State Police process that took place eliminated “any reasonable probability that the evidence had been tampered with, altered, or misidentified …”

The defense also questioned jury instructions regarding “operating” and “operability” of a motor vehicle, a claim that the Supreme Court found to be insufficient and without merit.

Justice Karen Valihura wrote the opinion, with Chief Justice Leo Strine and Justice Randy Holland weighing in.

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