STATE v. VICTOR CRESPO, SC 19242

Judicial District of Fairfield

 

  Criminal; Whether Statement was Inadmissible Under § 54-1c Because the Defendant was not Timely Presented for Arraignment After his Arrest; Whether Evidence was Sufficient to Prove Carrying Element of Crime of Carrying Pistol Without Permit. On January 18, 2010, Bridgeport police received a tip from an informant that a man had tried to sell the informant an Uzi-type pistol in the parking lot of a local market and that the seller had removed the weapon, which was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag, from a white van.  On the basis of that information, a police officer went to the parking lot and observed the defendant, who matched the informant's description, standing near a white van.  Because the side door of the van was open, the officer was able to observe a black plastic garbage bag inside.  The bag was seized and inside it the police found a loaded, semiautomatic Uzi-type pistol.  The defendant volunteered to the officer that the van was his and that he was holding the pistol for an acquaintance.  The defendant was arrested and, the next morning, a detective asked the defendant to make a statement.  In a written statement, the defendant admitted that he had agreed to "hold” the firearm in exchange for heroin.  The defendant was presented in court for arraignment the following day.  After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of several weapons charges, including carrying a pistol without a permit.  He appealed, claiming that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his written statement.  He claimed that the statement was inadmissible because he was not presented in court on January 19, 2010, and because General Statutes § 54-1c prohibits admission of “[a]ny . . . statement . . . obtained from an accused person who has not been presented to the first session of the court” after his arrest.  The Appellate Court (145 Conn. App. 547) rejected the claim, noting that the purpose of the statute was to create a prompt arraignment scheme that prohibited the admission of statements obtained by the police after an impermissible period of delay.  The court held that § 54-1c renders inadmissible any admission, confession or statement given by an accused person who remains in state custody after the time at which he should have been presented in court but does not invalidate statements made by a defendant prior to that time due to later, unrelated wrongdoing by the police in prolonging the period of his pre-presentment detention.  The Appellate Court also rejected the defendant’s claim that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 because the state failed to prove the carrying element of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  The court noted that the defendant had repeatedly claimed that he was “holding” the pistol for another man and held that the jury reasonably could have found that the defendant, on receiving the pistol from the man, carried it to the van, wrapped it in a black plastic garbage bag and placed it in the van for storage.  The Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court correctly determined that (1) the defendant’s written statement was properly admitted at trial, and (2) although the pistol was discovered in the defendant’s car, the jury reasonably could have found that the defendant had carried the pistol in violation of § 29-35.