September 19, 2017
J. Foster, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
M. Ralls, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the
brief, were Richard J. Colangelo, Jr., state's attorney,
and Susan M. Campbell, assistant state's attorney, for
the appellee (state).
Lavine, Elgo and Flynn, Js.
evidence that plays an actual and direct part in the
incidents giving rise to a criminal trial may be properly
authenticated because it was found or seized at the crime
scene. Where that real evidence is a narcotic substance, the
state's proof of that narcotic character is properly
authenticated by presenting testimony tracing the evidence
from the time it was found or, in this case, purchased to the
time it is offered in the courtroom with sufficient
completeness to render it reasonably probable that what is
offeredis the original and has neither been changed nor
defendant, Daryl Petitt, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of three counts of
illegal sale of narcotics in violation of General Statutes
§ 21a-277 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims the trial
court abused its discretion in admitting into evidence crack
cocaine from the second and third sales the defendant made to
an undercover police officer, who could not authenticate the
drugs because he made no distinguishing mark on the
contraband. The defendant also claims that the trial court
committed plain error by not striking from evidence the crack
cocaine from the first sale the defendant made to the officer
because the evidence was not first properly authenticated. He
seeks reversal of all three counts and a new trial on each of
them. We conclude that because the chain of custody was
properly established for all three pieces of evidence, the
trial court neither abused its discretion nor committed plain
error in admitting them into evidence for the jury's
consideration. We accordingly affirm the judgment.
following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found,
and procedural history are pertinent to this
appeal. In the fall of 2013, a confidential
informant informed Stamford Police Officer Michael Connelly
that a man who went by the name ‘‘DP''
was selling crack cocaine. The informant provided Connelly
with DP's cell phone number, which one could call to make
arrangements with DP to buy drugs. Connelly identified DP as
the defendant and, as officer in charge, proceeded to conduct
an investigation using an undercover officer.
investigation consisted of three drug buys using money
provided by Connelly, which were conducted by Waterbury
Police Detective Maximo Torres acting as undercover officer.
Torres wore a Kel monitoring device, which recorded and
transmitted audio and global positioning system (GPS)
information to other officers stationed nearby. After each
sale, Torres met Connelly at a prearranged safe location and
gave Connelly the drugs he purchased from the defendant.
first sale took place on October 29, 2013. On that date,
Torres called the defendant and asked for $100 worth of
cocaine. The defendant agreed to sell Torres the cocaine and
had Torres meet him at a bodega. There, the defendant and a
man the defendant introduced as his cousin got into
Torres' car. During the ride, the Kel device recorded the
defendant stating that he had three bags left to sell and
that he sold ‘‘base.'' Torres drove the
two to another location, where the cousin briefly left. The
cousin returned with drugs that he then handed to the
defendant. Torres drove the two back to the bodega, where the
defendant gave Torres six pieces of cocaine in bags in
exchange for $100. The defendant and the cousin left. Torres
met police at the safe area, where he gave Connelly the six
bags of cocaine that he obtained from the defendant. Connelly
weighed, field-tested and secured the drugs in an evidence
locker pending further testing at the state laboratory.
second sale occurred on November 5, 2013. Torres called the
defendant, and they arranged to meet in downtown Stamford.
Torres was met by the defendant and a woman he introduced as
his girlfriend. Torres drove them to another location. While
the three were in the car outside of the Stamford Police
Department, the defendant exchanged six bags of cocaine with
Torres for $100. Torres eventually drove the two to a
restaurant and dropped them off. Torres met police at the
safe area, where he gave Connelly the six bags of cocaine
that he obtained from the defendant. Connelly weighed,
field-tested and secured the drugs in a police property
locker pending future testing at the state laboratory.
third sale also occurred on November 5, 2013. Torres called
the defendant asking for $50 worth of cocaine. Torres picked
up the defendant and his girlfriend at the restaurant and
drove them to an apartment complex. Upon arrival, the
defendant exchanged three bags of cocaine with Torres for
$50. After dropping them off, Torres met police at the safe
area, where he gave Connelly the three bags of cocaine the
defendant had given to him. Connelly weighed, field-tested
and secured the drugs in a police property locker pending
future testing at the state laboratory.
drugs Torres purchased from the defendant, which had been
weighed, field-tested, and secured by Connelly, later were
delivered to the state laboratory by Stamford Police Officer
Terry Lauf on June 17, 2014. Vivian Texidor, a forensic
science examiner at the state laboratory, was assigned to
analyze the drugs to confirm that they indeed were narcotics.
She opened the packaging on June 23, 2014, but did not test
the drugs until June 30, 2014. After taking photos of the
drugs and weighing them, Texidor performed tests and
determined that the drugs were cocaine in freebase
form.After testing, Texidor sealed the drugs in
bags, labeled them and initialed them. At trial, Texidor
identified the drugs by the label and her initials.
defendant was charged with three counts of illegal sale of
narcotics. Following a jury trial, he was convicted on all
counts, and was sentenced to a total effective sentence of
twelve years of imprisonment, followed by five years of