STATE v. RICARDO ETIENNE, AC 27500
Judicial District of Stamford/Norwalk
Criminal; Whether Evidence Sufficient to Support Forgery Conviction; Whether Evidence of Defendant's Deportation Wrongly Admitted; Whether Statements to Police Should have been Suppressed Because they were Obtained in Violation of Defendant's Miranda Rights. The defendant was arrested after police officers conducting undercover surveillance of a Stamford park observed what they believed to be drug activity in and around a parked car and subsequently detected the smell of burning marijuana emanating from the car. The police found a state of Florida identification card in the defendant's wallet bearing the defendant's picture but the name and birth date of the defendant's brother, Alain Etienne. While the defendant initially told police that he was Alain Etienne, he later admitted at police headquarters that he was Ricardo Etienne and told the police that he had been deported from the United States and had re-entered the country through Orlando, Florida. Following a trial to the court, the defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana and forgery in the second degree in connection with his possession of the Florida identification card. On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the forgery conviction because the state failed to produce anyone, such as a Florida official, to testify that the identification card was in fact forged. In further support of his evidentiary insufficiency claim, the defendant notes that his brother never testified as to whether he had given the defendant permission to sign the identification card or affix his photograph to it. The defendant also claims that the court wrongly permitted the state to introduce evidence of his deportation because that evidence was irrelevant to prove forgery and because the probative value of that evidence was outweighed by its prejudicial effect. Finally, the defendant argues that the court erred in admitting statements he made during the police booking process because the police obtained those statements prior to informing him of his Miranda rights and that, despite the court's announced intent to sentence him to thirty-nine months incarceration, it mistakenly rendered a sentence of forty-two months.