Chavis v. DelawareAnnotate this Case
Dakai Chavis was indicted by grand jury on four counts of trespassing with the intent to peer or peep, four counts of burglary in the second degree, three counts of burglary in the second degree, and one count of theft of a firearm. A jury acquitted Chavis on all but one of the charges, finding him guilty of the second degree burglary of an apartment at 61 Fairway Road in Newark, Delaware. At that address, unlike the other residences identified in the indictment, the police had obtained a DNA sample from a bedroom window. The police sent that sample to an out-of-state laboratory for analysis, and when they later arrested Chavis and swabbed his mouth for DNA, they sent that sample to the same lab. According to one of the lab’s analysts, the evidentiary sample taken from the bedroom window at the burglary scene matched the reference sample taken from Chavis. It was undisputed that several analysts from the lab handled and performed steps in the analytical process on both samples. Even so, before the trial, the State moved in limine for an order declaring that the out-of-state laboratory’s DNA findings would be “admissible via the testimony of [the lead analyst], and that no one else from [the laboratory] needs to appear for trial.” Chavis opposed the motion, citing the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause and 10 Del. C. sec. 4331. The Superior Court agreed with the State and granted its motion. Finding no reversible error in the Superior Court's judgment, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed.