Judge won’t suppress evidence in Smyrna drug case

DOVER — A 26-year-old Clayton woman’s bid to suppress evidence seized in a drug investigation was denied in Superior Court Wednesday.

Pamela E. Dunning contested the reliability of an informant’s tip regarding alleged heroin possession that prompted a search warrant execution of a room at the Best Western Hotel at 190 Stadium Street in Smyrna. An arrest was made in early June and drug dealing and endangering the welfare of a child charges followed.

In a 13-page order Judge Noel Eason Primos determined that there was sufficient probable cause when a magistrate approved a warrant during investigation by Delaware State Police and Smyrna Police. The entire opinion was posted by the State of Delaware online at courts.delaware.gov.

The order indicated that an informant was developed after a wanted person was detained during a traffic stop on June 4 and supposedly found to be placing an order for heroin on his cell phone. According to police, a phone connected to Ms. Dunning was determined to be texting the informant regarding the alleged sale.

The informant informed police he had allegedly bought heroin from Ms. Dunning the previous night had just “re-up’ed her supply.” The informant supposedly pinpointed the heroin to being located in a box under Ms. Dunning’s bed at the hotel.

Ms. Dunning was confirmed to be staying at the hotel room through June 5, police found, and located outside the room sitting in her vehicle smoking a cigarette. The warrant followed, with heroin and drug paraphernalia contraband located, papers said.

The defendant claimed that police made no independent investigation to corroborate the tip, thus invalidating the search and results (including her statement) from it.

Judge Primos noted that the informant “detailed evidence of drug activity, and demonstrated that the informant had particularized knowledge about concealed criminal activity on the part of Ms. Dunning and the specific location where the alleged drug activity was taking place.”

Also, police supposedly found the informant as he was arranging a drug deal with the defendant, confirming her identity and seeing her outside the hotel room, according to the Court.

Earlier this week a trial was scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Kent County Courthouse.

Deputy Attorney General Gregory R. Babowal represented the state, with attorney Zachary A. George arguing for Ms. Dunning.


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