Case of Dover man accused of fleeing cops and crashing car, injuring two, returns to court

 

DOVER — A defense attorney described it as the “oldest case on by far” before initial Judge Robert Young and the prosecution quickly concurred.

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James Wilson

Scheduled eight times since Sept. 17, 2013, the trial of a 51-year-old Dover man accused of vehicular assault during a police chase returned to Kent County Superior Court on Monday morning.

Defendant James A. Wilson was arrested on April 4, 2013, after Dover Police Department alleged that he sped away from the scene of a search warrant execution for a drug investigation and then crashed into a pickup truck after running a red light, injuring two persons.

Mr. Wilson was indicted on June 6, 2013, on charges including, among others, second- and third-degree assault, resisting arrest, possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, disregarding a police officer signal, two counts of criminal mischief, leaving the scene of a collision and injury, and unsafe speed.

On Monday no resolution was reached by 4:45 p.m. as a plea deal was apparently being considered following a suppression hearing. If nothing is negotiated beforehand, a trial is scheduled to begin after a jury is assembled at 9 a.m. today.

As Mr. Wilson and a longtime friend left Kent Courthouse late in the afternoon, his lawyer John Garey was re-entering the building with a phone to his ear and in a conversation. Judge Jeffrey Clark, who oversaw a suppression hearing regarding the validity of a search warrant and contact with Mr. Wilson, had given a 4:30 p.m. deadline for any plea to be announced and noted that the defendant was presumed innocent.

Police said Mr. Wilson fled from the area of a search warrant execution at the “Many Things” business at 239 W. Loockerman Street. Mr. Wilson was named on the search warrant, according to authorities. No drugs were found, but an undisclosed amount of cash was seized as an investigation continued.

According to authorities, Mr. Wilson exited his vehicle and fled on foot before being apprehended a short distance away in the area of S. New and W. North Streets.

During a suppression hearing on Monday afternoon, Mr. Wilson testified that he “panicked” when he put up his hands as two Dover police officers with guns drawn approached, and fled a short distance in a vehicle before an accidental crash.

Mr. Wilson said he feared being shot in the face, and was later kicked in the head twice and several times overall while taken into custody.

Answering questions from Deputy Attorney General Greg Babowal, Mr. Wilson acknowledged that he knew a police officer coming toward him, but the men did not identify themselves.

Dover Police Officer Christopher Bumgarner testified he witnessed the incident unfold and heard, “Stop. Police. Get out of the car.”

Mr. Garey, the defense lawyer, argued that the police search warrant did not allow officers to approach Mr. Wilson approximately a half block down the street since he was not at the site named on the warrant and “everything after that flows from their” unauthorized conduct.

Mr. Garey said police made an over broad interpretation of the search warrant and authorities “can’t just grab him anywhere off the street.”

Deputy Attorney General Greg Babowal maintained that the warrant allowed a search of Mr. Wilson, and “nowhere in the search warrant is there a requirement that he has to be in the building.”

DAG Babowal said the search and detainment was valid and “this wasn’t a situation where police went miles to search for the defendant … He came to the store.”

Citing the Delaware Constitution, Judge Clark said that the search warrant “does not by any of its language limit the search to be just at 239 W. Loockerman Street.”

The driver and passenger in the vehicle were injured when his by Mr. Wilson’s vehicle, then treated and released from Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover, police said earlier.

Mr. Wilson testified that he came to the business after receiving a call that police were there. He said he feared that his fiancée’ had perhaps been a robbery victim and arrived to see a man in handcuffs outside the store while “wondering what was going on.”

No drugs were located at the business, police said, and an undisclosed amount of cash was seized.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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