Brothers face illegal hunting, drug charges

SMYRNA — On the opening day of Delaware’s shotgun deer season Friday, investigation into possible illegal hunting brought the arrests of two brothers on drug and firearms charges, DNREC said in a news release.

Wayne D. Whitby, 40, of the 100 block of Pinewood Acres in Dover, and Michael J. Whitby, 43, of the 800 block of Sawmill Road in Smyrna, entered not guilty pleas after being taken into custody by DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources police, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

As DNREC conducted a surveillance operation at a residence in the 800 block of Sawmill Road at approximately 4:30 a.m. Friday, two men allegedly were seen walking toward the woods with what appeared to be rifles of an unknown caliber, according to papers, wearing “camo clothing without hunter orange which is required during the firearms deer season.”

Authorities said brothers Michael J., left, and Wayne D. Whitby were arrested Friday on the fist day of Delaware’s shotgun deer season. (Submitted/DNREC)

Authorities said brothers Michael J., left, and Wayne D. Whitby were arrested Friday on the fist day of Delaware’s shotgun deer season. (Submitted/DNREC)

The men returned at approximately 5:20 p.m., police alleged, each carrying a firearm while wearing camo clothing with no hunter orange.

A DNREC officer said in papers he contacted the men and identified himself before taking a rifle loaded with four bullets from Michael Whitby, who allegedly did not have a hunting license in his possession.

According to DNREC in court documents, Wayne Whitby allegedly “refused to open his truck and show me his firearm that he had been using to hunt.”

Both men were handcuffed, DNREC said, and read Miranda warnings at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Wayne Whitby was asked no questions after invoking his Miranda rights, DNREC said in papers.

After speaking with Michael Whitby, police said in papers, a .22 caliber rifle was located in a closet of the residence and turned over to a DNREC officer.

“(Michael Whitby) made statements that he messed up and that he shouldn’t have gone out to hunt,” DNREC claimed in court documents.

“He stated that it was his first time hunting this year and that the rifle was a gift. …”

Both men were placed in a patrol vehicle and taken to the Smyrna Police Department for processing, authorities said in documents.

Search warrant ensues

A search warrant was obtained for Wayne Whitby’s truck, DNREC said in papers, and “a .270 caliber rifle was seized along with camo clothing and what appeared to be marijuana and pipes allegedly used for smoking marijuana, The substance was weighed at Smyrna Police Department and weighed a total of 10.5 grams.”

In papers, DNREC said Michael Whitby was convicted of second-degree assault on Feb. 16, 1996, in Kent County Superior Court, which prohibited him from possessing a deadly weapon or firearms, along with any firearms ammunition.

Also, DNREC said in papers, Michael Whitby also was arrested Dec. 18, 2010, for alleged hunting violations and possession, purchase, own or control a firearm or ammunition by person prohibited.

Wayne Whitby was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, along with not wearing hunter orange while hunting during a firearms deer season, and hunting protected wildlife with a rifle instead of longbow or shotgun.

Wayne Whitby was presented through video at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and released on $2,200 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing in the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas, DNREC said.

Michael Whitby was charged with three felony counts regarding possession of firearms and ammunition by person prohibited, unlicensed hunting, not wearing hunter orange while hunting wild animals except migratory game birds and hunting deer with a rifle instead of longbow or shotgun.

After a video arraignment at Justice of the Peace Court 7, Michael Whitby was released on $25,150 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing in the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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