Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Soto

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 22, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
LUIS XAVIER SOTO

          Argued April 19 2017

          W. Theodore Koch III, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Linda F. Currie-Zeffiro, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Jonathan M. Sousa, former special deputy assistant state's attorney, John C. Smriga, state's attorney, and Nicholas J. Bove, Jr., senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Alvord, Prescott and Mullins, Js.

         Syllabus

         The defendant, who was convicted after a jury trial of criminal possession of a pistol and risk of injury to a child on the basis of evidence that was discovered in the execution of a search warrant at his cousin's apartment, appealed to this court. The jury heard conflicting testimony regarding whether the defendant owned the pistol that was seized from the closet of the bedroom in which he had been staying. Police officers who executed the search warrant testified that the defendant made certain inculpatory statements. The defendant also testified, denying that he owned the pistol and that he made any such inculpatory statements. The defendant filed a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the state's case-in-chief, but did not file any postverdict motions. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the jury's verdict was against the weight of evidence presented at trial. Held that this court declined to review the defendant's claim, raised for the first time on appeal, that the evidence against him was so weak as to raise a substantial question regarding the reliability of the verdict and that he was entitled to a new trial, as the defendant failed to file a motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial after the jury returned its verdict and the defendant failed to provide an adequate record to review his claim under State v. Golding (213 Conn. 233); contrary to the defendant's claim, filing a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the state's case-in-chief did not preserve for appellate review his challenge to the verdict as against the weight of the evidence, and moreover, only the judge who presided over the trial where the verdict was returned was legally competent to decide whether that verdict was against the weight of the evidence, and because the defendant here failed to file a postverdict motion for a new trial, the trial court was not asked to reweigh the jury's credibility determinations or to make findings regarding the evidence and, consequently, this court could not determine from the record whether the trial court abused its discretion because that court was never called upon to exercise its discretion.

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of stealing a firearm, criminal possession of a pistol, possession of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school and risk of injury to a child, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield and tried to the jury before Dennis, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty of criminal possession of a pistol and risk of injury to a child, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          OPINION

          MULLINS, J.

         The defendant, Luis Xavier Soto, appeals from the judgment of conviction rendered after a jury trial of one count of criminal possession of a pistol in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217c (a) (1) and one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1). The defendant's sole claim on appeal is that this court should remand the case for a new trial because the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence. We decline to review the defendant's claim because it is unpreserved and not entitled to review under State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989). Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On June 11, 2014, at approximately 5 a.m., police officers with the Statewide Urban Violence Cooperative Crime Control Task Force (task force) executed a search warrant on the second floor apartment at 217 Hough Avenue in Bridgeport. The task force had obtained the warrant on the basis of a confidential informant's tip that Francisco Pineiro, the defendant's cousin, was in possession of a black semiautomatic handgun. When the task force officers applied for the warrant, they believed that, in addition to Pineiro, Christina Jimenez and her two children resided at the apartment.

         Upon entering the apartment, task force officers encountered Pineiro, Jimenez, two children aged ten and five, and the defendant. Some of the task force officers detained the apartment's occupants in the kitchen while other officers searched the apartment. The apartment had three bedrooms, one of which eventually was determined to be the defendant's. In the closet of that bedroom, Detective David Edwards found a leather backpack containing a bag of cocaine, three loose .40 caliber rounds, and a semiautomatic pistol that was fully loaded with twelve rounds. The task force officers eventually determined that the pistol had been stolen several years earlier. Edwards also found the defendant's state identification card on a television stand in that bedroom and some clothes hanging in the bedroom closet.

         While being detained in the kitchen, the defendant became aware that task force officers found a pistol in the bedroom. At that point, Officer Ilidio Pereira, who was detaining the apartment's occupants in the kitchen, overheard the defendant ask Pineiro in Spanish, ‘‘quie´nvaatomar, '' which means ‘‘who's going to take it.''

         After recovering the pistol, Edwards questioned Pineiro, Jimenez, and the defendant about the pistol. Both Pineiro and Jimenez denied possession and knowledge of the pistol. Additionally, Jimenez was ‘‘genuinely concerned and shocked'' about the pistol's presence in the apartment and ‘‘placed the blame'' on the defendant for the pistol. The defendant, who was a convicted felon, stated that the pistol was not his, that he had never seen it before, and that he did not know to whom it belonged. The defendant did indicate, however, that he was staying in that bedroom, that the clothes hanging in the closet belonged to him, and that he had been ‘‘in and out of the closet multiple times.''

         As a result of the search and questioning of the apartment's occupants, task force officers arrested the defendant on several gun and drug offenses. The state charged the defendant with stealing a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-212 (a), criminal possession of a pistol in violation of § 53a-217c (a) (1), possession of a controlled substance within 1500 feet of a school in violation of General Statutes § 21a-279 (b), and risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (1). The defendant elected a jury trial.

         At trial, the state sought to establish that the defendant constructively possessed the pistol, ammunition, and cocaine seized from Pineiro's apartment. Specifically, it sought to link the defendant to those items with statements he had made to Pineiro and to task force officers at Pineiro's apartment. The defendant's statements were introduced through the testimony of several task force officers who had participated in executing the warrant at Pineiro's apartment. In particular, those officers testified that the defendant asked Pineiro ‘‘who's going to take it'' in reference to the pistol, that he indicated that he was staying in the bedroom in which the items ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.