Ayala v. DelawareAnnotate this Case
In July 2015, police officers stopped Javier Ayala for driving a vehicle with a suspended license. During a search of his vehicle and a subsequent search of his home under a previously issued warrant, officers found a .22-caliber pistol and 1,286 bags of heroin. The net weight of the bags’ contents was approximately 15 grams. In separate trials, two juries convicted Ayala of multiple charges relating to the contraband police found in Ayala’s home and vehicle. Because Ayala had been previously convicted of four other felonies, the Superior Court declared Ayala to be a habitual offender and sentenced him to a mandatory minimum prison term of seven years and six months. On appeal, Ayala challenged his convictions and sentence, contending: (1) the Superior Court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence regarding the identity and weight of the substance in the bags seized from his home and vehicle because the chemist who tested the suspected heroin bags did not lay a proper foundation for the admission of her hypergeometric-testing results; and (2) as a matter of law, he should not have been adjudged a habitual offender because the offenses forming the basis of three of his predicate felony convictions were no longer felonies when he was sentenced in this case. Finding no abuse of discretion, and that the habitual offender sentence enhancement was properly applied, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Ayala's conviction and sentence.