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State v. Adams

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 22, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
LORENZO ADAMS

Argued September 18, 2015

Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Danbury, Roraback, J.

Deren Manasevit, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

Sarah Hanna, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Stephen J. Sedensky III, state’s attorney, and Colleen P. Zingaro, assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

Lavine, Beach and Sheldon, Js.

OPINION

SHELDON, J.

The defendant, Lorenzo Adams, appeals from the judgment of conviction for conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree, in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48[1] and 53a-125b, [2] which was rendered against him by the trial court on February 10, 2014, on the basis of his alleged conduct at a Microsoft store in Danbury with a named coconspirator, one Stacey Rossman, on December 13, 2012. The trial court found that on that date, the defendant conspired with another person to steal Beats by Dre (Beats) headphones from the Microsoft store in Danbury and that one of them committed the overt act of stealing at least one pair of such headphones from the store in furtherance of that conspiracy. Following the trial, at which the court also acquitted the defendant, inter alia, of larceny in the sixth degree in connection with that same alleged course of conduct, the court sentenced the defendant on the conspiracy charge to a term of ninety days in jail. This appeal followed.

The defendant claims on appeal that the evidence before the trial court was insufficient to support his conviction for conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree. He claims, more particularly, that the evidence admitted against him was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) he conspired with anyone to commit the offense of larceny in the sixth degree on December 13, 2012; (2) he had the intent to commit the crime of larceny in the sixth degree on that date; or (3) while acting with that intent, he or Rossman stole Beats headphones on that date in furtherance of their alleged conspiracy. We agree with the defendant that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree, and thus remand this case to the trial court with direction to vacate his conspiracy conviction and enter a judgment of acquittal on that charge.

The following facts are relevant to this appeal. This case was tried on a three count long form information charging the defendant as follows: (1) with larceny in the sixth degree (‘‘on or about December 13, 2012 . . . [the defendant] did take the property of Microsoft to wit: headphones in violation of [§] 53a-125b’’); (2) with conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree (‘‘on or about December 13, 2012 . . . [the defendant] with the intent to commit a larceny in the sixth degree, did agree with Stacey Rossman to commit larceny in the sixth degree by taking the property of Microsoft to wit: headphones in violation of [§§] 53a-48 and 53a-125b’’); and (3) with attempted larceny in the sixth degree (‘‘on or about December 14, 2012 . . . [the defendant] attempted to take headphones from the Microsoft store in violation of [§§] 53a-49 and 53a-125b’’). After the defendant waived his right to trial by jury and elected to be tried by the court, trial commenced on January 16, 2014.

The state presented two witnesses in its case-in-chief at trial. Only one of them offered any testimony concerning the events of December 13, 2012, upon which the defendant’s challenged conspiracy conviction was based. The sufficiency of the state’s evidence to support that conviction thus depends directly upon the nature and substance of that witness’s testimony and of the inferences that can be reasonably drawn from it.

Nancy John, the manager of the Microsoft store in the Danbury Fair Mall, testified that the store was busy with holidaycustomersonDecember13and was staffed with about fifteen employees. John noticed a male and a female customer enter the store and walk to the accessory area at the back of the store. The accessory area contained small merchandise items and accessories for electronic equipment. John noticed these particular customers because one of them was carrying a shopping bag from H&M, a store that was no longer in the mall, a fact to which she had been trained to be alert. A few minutes after the two customers left the accessory area, a store associate went over to the area and noticed that ‘‘a few’’ Beats headphones were missing. John testified that it would have been easy to determine that headphones were missing because the store only put one or two pieces of that type of merchandise out on the floor at a time. After the store associate informed John of the missing merchandise, she pulled up security footage on her laptop. John testified as follows as to what she saw on the security footage, which was not produced for or introduced as evidence at trial: ‘‘I saw that the Beats had been . . . picked up, moved around, held in hand, put back, and then one was pulled off and the one toward the back was pulled forward . . . to make it look like there wasn’t one missing at the time.’’

John later testified that Beats headphones had been stolen on December 13.[3] Although John testified on cross-examination that she was able to track what specific items from the store’s inventory had been placed on the floor on December 13, and claimed that the store had given the numbers of those items to the police, the state never offered any such numbers or any other inventory records concerning the missing items into evidence.[4] John admitted that, although a store employee had reported the headphones missing on December 13, it was possible that someone else was carrying them around the store at the time of the employee’s observation. Moreover, individual pairs of headphones did not have security devices on them that would have sounded an alarm or otherwise alerted store employees if someone were attempting to remove them from the store without paying for them.

John also testified briefly as to events that allegedly occurred on two subsequent days, December 14 and 18. On December 14, she stated, the defendant again came into the store along with the same female companion who was carrying the same H&M shopping bag and another female. They headed once again to the accessory area of the store, where they looked at headphones. After they left the store, store employees found that ‘‘items were missing once again.’’ John called the police and filed a report after the disappearance of the missing merchandise was discovered on December 14. Later, on December 18, the defendant came to the store a third time, along with the same female companion who had accompanied him on December 13, and were in the accessory area of the store. After this visit as well, Beats headphones were reported to be missing. John immediately reported the events of December 18 to the police, who thereafter apprehended the defendant and his companion in the mall and arranged a showup to have John view them. John identified them as the same individuals who had come into her store on December 13, 14, and 18.

At trial, John was shown a still photograph taken from the store’s security footage on December 13, in which she pointed out the man and the woman whom she claimed to have stolen Beats headphones on that date. She specifically identified the defendant as the male customer depicted in the photograph. The state also introduced a still photograph taken from the store’s security footage on December 14, ...


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