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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

June 26, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
JACQUI SMITH

          Argued April 18, 2018

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of criminal possession of a firearm, possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield and tried to the jury before Kavanewsky, J.; thereafter, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Mary Boehlert, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rita M. Shair, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom were John C. Smriga, state's attorney, and, on the brief, C. Robert Satti, Jr., supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Lavine, Bright and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The defendant, Jacqui Smith, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a trial to a jury, of criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217 (a) (1), [1] possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle in violation of General Statutes § 29-38 (a), and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 (a).[2] On appeal, the defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence from which the jury reasonably could have found him guilty of the three crimes. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         On the basis of the evidence before it, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. On July 28, 2014, Keith Johnson was living near the intersection of Indian Place and Indian Avenue in Bridgeport. Tonahja Cohen and Johnson are cousins. At approximately 5:30 p.m. on that date, the defendant called Cohen and asked him to come to the place where Johnson was living. Cohen drove to the location in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo automobile and parked behind the defendant's Chevrolet Malibu automobile. He met the defendant, who was angry, but Cohen did not know why. The defendant had a handgun, which Cohen took from him and put in the trunk of the Monte Carlo. Cohen wanted to ensure that nothing happened. He then went into the house and asked Johnson to come outside. When Johnson came out, he too had a gun, which was put in the trunk of the Monte Carlo. The defendant, Johnson, and Cohen got into the Malibu, which the defendant drove around while they tried to work things out. According to Cohen, Johnson and the defendant were arguing about ‘‘some bullshit.''

         At about that time, Officer Brian Pisanelli of the Bridgeport Police Department received a radio communication from Officer Bruno Rodrigues that prompted Pisanelli to drive to Indian Avenue. Detective Martinez was in a car directly behind Pisanelli. As Pisanelli drove north on Indian Avenue, approaching its intersection with Indian Place, he saw a Malibu with three occupants and an unoccupied Monte Carlo parked on the right side of the street. He drove along the left side of the Malibu. The defendant attempted to drive off at a high rate of speed but Pisanelli was able to pull in front of the Malibu and block it.

         Pisanelli approached the Malibu and asked the defendant for his operator's license, registration, and insurance card, which the defendant was unable to produce. Pisanelli issued a motor vehicle summons to the defendant, who gave his address as 190 Denver Avenue in Bridgeport. Pisanelli arrested the defendant, placed him in the rear seat of his patrol car and drove him to the police department on Congress Street. During the drive, Pisanelli did not question the defendant but the defendant spontaneously stated, ‘‘I brought that gun over to settle the score with [Johnson].''

         Other Bridgeport police officers arrived on the scene: Rodrigues, Officer Ilidio Pereira, Detective Borrico and Detective John Tenn. Those officers interacted with Cohen and Johnson. Rodrigues asked Cohen if he could search the Monte Carlo. Cohen agreed, gave Rodrigues the keys, and stated that whatever is in there was not his. Rodrigues used the keys to open the trunk of the Monte Carlo, where he saw two handguns. Cohen was placed under arrest and later was charged with possession of firearms in a motor vehicle.

         In May, 2016, the defendant was charged in a substitute information with criminal possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a felony in violation of § 53a-217 (a) (1), [3] possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle in violation of § 29-38 (a), [4] and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit in violation of § 29-35 (a).[5]At trial, he stipulated that he was a convicted felon.

         Cohen testified at trial that he was charged with two counts of possession of weapons in a motor vehicle and that he pleaded guilty to those charges and could be sentenced to ten years incarceration, execution suspended after five years in prison, with the right to argue for less. He, however, expected that the sentencing judge would be informed of his testimony in the present matter and that he would receive a sentence of probation only. Cohen also testified that he was convicted of two felonies in 2013, was sentenced to probation, and that he had violated his probation. Given his two ...


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