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State v. Crewe

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

October 15, 2019


          Argued March 7, 2019

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of possession of a narcotic substance, possession of a narcotic substance with intent to sell, and conspiracy to possess a narcotic substance with the intent to sell, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven and tried to the jury before Klatt, J.; verdict of guilty of possession of a narcotic substance; thereafter, the court denied the motion filed by the defendant for a judgment of acquittal; judgment in accordance with the verdict, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Timothy H. Everett, assigned counsel, with whom were Adam Antar, certified legal intern, and, on the brief, Karen Mitchell, certified legal intern, Julie Mos-cato, certified legal intern, and Uriel Lloyd, certified legal intern, for the appellant (defendant).

          Lisa A. Riggione, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patrick J. Griffin, state's attorney, and Robert F. Mullins, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Keller, Moll and Beach, Js.


          BEACH, J.

         The defendant, Jeffrey Orlando Crewe, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of possession of a narcotic substance in violation of General Statutes § 21a-279 (a). The defendant's sole claim on appeal is that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On August 18, 2014, Hamden Police Officers Greg Curran and Enrique Rivera were patrolling by bicycle in the area of Dixwell Avenue and the Farmington Canal Trail (trail). The officers were assigned to this specific area in response to reports of bicycle thefts and drug use by teens and young adults. At approximately 6:12 p.m., Curran and Rivera observed a young man walk across the trail in a westerly direction toward Dixwell Avenue and cut through a hole in a six-foot fence that separated the trail from the adjacent property. Rivera, who was familiar with the cut in the fence, pointed it out to Curran because he thought knowledge of the hole might be useful in a future pursuit situation.

         The officers proceeded through the hole in the fence and entered an adjacent parking lot situated behind several businesses. Upon approaching the parking lot, Curran noticed a van parked behind bushes that concealed the van's presence from passersby on Dixwell Avenue. Curran testified that ‘‘[i]t was odd for them to be sitting there so [he] went over to check on them.'' As Curran approached the van he could see that there were two people in the front seats.[1] As Curran approached the van, the front seat passenger, later identified as the defendant, quickly reached down behind the driver's seat. Curran, for safety concerns, asked the defendant what he was reaching for. In response, the defendant held up a used car magazine.

         As Curran was talking to the defendant, he noticed a third individual, later identified as JonMichael Young, in the back seat. At that point, Young reached down toward his seat, but Curran asked him to place his hands on the headrest in front of him. He complied. Curran questioned the driver, later identified as Lachee McGee, as to why they were parked in that area. She said that they were looking for frogs in a nearby puddle. As Curran was talking to the occupants, he observed two bundles of heroin on the center console next to the defendant's left leg.[2] At this point, Rivera approached the van on bicycle and Curran said ‘‘104'' to him, which was a police signal indicating that drugs were present.

         Curran asked the defendant to exit the vehicle and stand near Rivera, and he complied. As the defendant exited the vehicle, Curran stood at the driver's window. He testified that McGee looked down at the center console and, seeing the bundles of heroin, picked up the used car magazine that the defendant had displayed and placed it on top of the bundles of heroin.[3] At this point, Curran asked McGee to turn over the keys to the vehicle. Curran then was able to take possession of the drugs that he had seen on the center console.[4] The remaining occupants of the van were removed from the vehicle and were detained by other officers who had arrived on the scene.[5] The police searched the defendant and found nothing of note on his person.

         When McGee exited the van and was patted down, police observed a small pink glassine bag sticking out of the front of her pants. The bag resembled the bags found on the center console. When McGee was asked if she had any other drugs in her possession, she answered positively and said that she had shoved drugs down the front of her pants. A female officer who had been called to the scene retrieved the drugs from the front of McGee's pants. The officers seized nine bags of narcotics from the person of McGee. Curran continued to search the vehicle and discovered several other bags of heroin on top of the center console, as well as a bottle of a substance known as Super Mannitol.[6] In total, twenty-five pink glassine bags were retrieved from the center console. A search of the back seat revealed a white dinner plate, two metal strainers, sixty pink glassine bags each filled with a substance that later field-tested positive as heroin, and a Ziploc type of bag with a large amount of the same substance. Rivera also found bags stuffed between the seats in the rear passenger area of the van where Young had been sitting. On the basis of his training and experience, Curran believed that he had interrupted the occupants while they were mixing the heroin with the Super Mannitol in order to package the narcotics for sale.

         The police seized ninety-four small bags and one larger bag, all containing heroin. At trial, the seized evidence was introduced as five exhibits as follows: (1) twenty-five pink glassine bags containing powder that tested positive for heroin and Super Mannitol and weighed 1.09 grams; (2) sixty pink glassine bags that tested positive for heroin and weighed 2.415 grams and contained Super Mannitol; (3) a Ziploc bag containing powder that tested positive for heroin and weighed 1.892 grams; (4) a white bottle containing Super Mannitol, a mixing ...

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