STATE v. MCARTHUR WINFREY, SC 18716
Judicial District of Meriden
Criminal; Whether Court Properly Denied Motion to Suppress; Whether Evidence was Sufficient to Sustain Narcotics Conviction; Whether Admission of Defendant's Medical Records Deprived Him of a Fair Trial; Whether Jury was Properly Instructed on State's Burden of Proof. After the defendant parked his motor vehicle, police officers stopped him for two motor vehicle infractions. As the defendant left his vehicle, the officers explained why they stopped him. The defendant appeared nervous and began reaching into his sweatshirt pocket and beneath his clothing near his waist. Fearing for their safety, the officers began to pat down the defendant for weapons, and the defendant resisted and reached into his pocket. When the officers pulled the defendant's hand out of his pocket, he dropped what they believed was a packet of heroin. The officers placed the packet on the hood of a nearby vehicle and arrested the defendant for interfering with an officer. The officers then conducted a complete search of the defendant and found rolling papers and $552 in his pockets. After being handcuffed but before being placed in the officers' vehicle, the defendant dove toward the packet of suspected heroin and swallowed it. Before taking the defendant to the hospital, the officers searched his vehicle and found bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine and marijuana. The officers then arrested the defendant for possession of narcotics with intent to sell and tampering with physical evidence. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized from his vehicle, arguing that the warrantless search of his vehicle was unconstitutional. The court denied the motion, concluding that the police conducted a legitimate warrantless search of the defendant's vehicle incident to his custodial arrest for interfering with an officer. At trial, the state offered into evidence medical records that were prepared as a result of the defendant's swallowing the packet of suspected heroin. The records revealed that he had informed medical personnel that he used narcotics on a daily basis. The defendant objected to the admission of the records on the ground that they contained information that was more prejudicial than probative. The court admitted the records and subsequently convicted the defendant of possession of narcotics, interfering with an officer and tampering with evidence. In this appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court improperly (1) denied his motion to suppress, (2) admitted his medical records into evidence and (3) instructed the jury as to the state's burden of proof. He also argues that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction for possession of narcotics.