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State v. Crespo

Supreme Court of Connecticut

May 19, 2015

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
VICTOR CRESPO

Argued December 1, 2014.

Page 448

Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of carrying a pistol without a permit, having a weapon in a motor vehicle without a permit, and possession of an assault weapon, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, geographical area number two, where the court, Rodriguez, J., denied the defendant's motion to suppress certain evidence; thereafter, the case was tried to the jury before Rodriguez, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Bear, Alvord and Sheldon, Js., which affirmed the trial court's judgment, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

SYLLABUS

Pursuant to statute (§ 54-1c), any oral or written statement obtained from an accused person who has not been presented to the first session of the court following his or her arrest shall be inadmissible.

Convicted of the crimes of carrying a pistol without a permit, having a weapon in a motor vehicle without a permit, and possession of an assault weapon, the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court. On January 18, 2010, a police officer, S, received information from a confidential informant that a man had offered to sell an Uzi-type pistol to the informant in the parking lot of a local store. The informant described the man to S and stated that the pistol was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag and had been removed from a white van. On the basis of this information, S went to the store parking lot to investigate and observed the defendant, who matched the informant's description, standing near a white van. S approached the defendant and ordered him to raise his hands. After conducting a patdown search, which did not reveal any weapon on the defendant's person, S observed a black plastic bag through an open door of the van. The police seized the bag and found an Uzi-type pistol therein. The defendant volunteered to the police that the van was his vehicle, and he then was arrested. Thereafter, the defendant, unprompted by interrogation, told the police that he was holding the pistol for an acquaintance, F. The next morning, on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, at approximately 10 a.m., the police asked the defendant to make a statement, and, after being advised of his constitutional rights and executing a waiver of those rights, the defendant provided a written statement in which he reiterated that he had agreed to hold the firearm for F. The defendant first appeared in court in connection with his arrest on Wednesday, January 20, 2010. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of conviction, rejecting the defendant's claims that the trial court improperly had denied his motion to suppress his written statement pursuant to § 54-1c and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of carrying a pistol without a permit. On the granting of certification, the defendant appealed to this court. Held :

1. Contrary to the defendant's claim, the Appellate Court correctly determined that § 54-1c did not bar the admissibility of his written statement; on the basis of this court's review of the language and legislative history of § 54-1c, and the principles of law that the statute was intended to embody, this court agreed with the Appellate Court that the suppression remedy of § 54-1c applies only to statements that an accused person makes after the time that the person should have been presented in court, and, because the defendant made his written statement prior to the expiration of the first session of the court, the trial court properly denied his motion to suppress.

2. The Appellate Court correctly determined that the evidence was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had carried a pistol in violation of the statute (§ 29-35 [a]) proscribing the carrying of a pistol without a permit; on the basis of S's testimony that the defendant told him that F had given the defendant the pistol and that the defendant was " holding" the pistol for F, the defendant's admissions that he owned the van in which the pistol was found and that, after he became impatient with F, he went to a local store to see if the owner of that store was interested in the pistol, and evidence that the pistol was in a black garbage bag in the defendant's van at the time of his arrest, the jury reasonably could have inferred that the defendant had placed the pistol in the van himself or that he at least had some physical contact with the pistol at some point between the time that F asked him to hold it and the time of his arrest.

Megan L. Weiss, assistant public defender, with whom was Martin Zeldis, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

Leonard C. Boyle, deputy chief state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state's attorney, and Nicholas J. Bove, Jr., senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald and Robinson, Js. PALMER, J. In this opinion the other justices concurred.

OPINION

Page 449

[317 Conn. 3] PALMER, J.

The primary issue presented by this appeal is whether General Statutes § 54-1c,[1] which renders inadmissible " [a]ny . . . statement . . . obtained from an accused person who has not been presented to the first session of the court" following his or her arrest, applies to a statement elicited from an accused who, although not presented to the first session of court, provided the statement before the expiration of that first court session, when his presentment still would have been timely. The defendant, Victor Crespo, was charged with one count each of the crimes of carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 29-35 (a),[2] having a weapon in a motor vehicle without a permit in violation [317 Conn. 4] of General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 29-38 (a), and possession of an assault weapon in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 53-202c (a). To establish the defendant's guilt with respect to these offenses, the state relied, in part, on a written confession that the defendant had given to the police following his arrest. After a trial, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged, and the trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the jury verdict.[3] The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment; State v. Crespo, 145 Conn.App. 547, 582, 76 A.3d 664 (2013); and we granted the defendant's petition for certification to appeal, limited to two issues. First, did the Appellate Court correctly conclude that the trial court properly rejected the defendant's claim under § 54-1c that he was entitled to the suppression of his written statement because he was not presented to the first session of the court and, second, was the evidence sufficient to establish that he had carried a pistol in violation of § 29-35 (a) even though the pistol was discovered in the defendant's vehicle. See State v. Crespo, 310 Conn. 953, 953-54, 81 A.3d 1181 (2013). With respect to the first issue, we agree with the Appellate Court and the trial court that § 54-1c did not bar the state's use of the defendant's written statement because § 54-1c is inapplicable when, as in the present case, the statement is elicited prior to the expiration of the first session of court. With respect to the second issue, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support a jury finding that the defendant carried the pistol in violation of § 29-35 (a). We therefore affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

Page 450

The opinion of the Appellate Court sets forth the following relevant facts that the jury reasonably could have found. " On January 18, 2010, at approximately [317 Conn. 5] 10:45 p.m., Officer Hugo Stern of the Bridgeport Police Department received a tip from a confidential informant (informant) that [he] had been approached by a man (seller) in the parking lot of the T Market in [the city of] Bridgeport offering to sell the informant an Uzi-type pistol. The informant described the seller as a 'Hispanic male' with a '[s]lender build, approximately [five foot, seven inches tall], [wearing] a black jacket, blue jeans, and . . . a multicolor knitted hat . . . .' The informant stated that the gun was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag. The informant told Stern that the seller had removed the gun from a white van . . . [that] was parked in the parking lot of the T Market.[4] Armed with this ...


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