STATE v. KENNETH WEBSTER, SC 18787
Judicial District of Litchfield
Criminal; Sufficiency of the Evidence; Whether There was Insufficient Evidence to Support a Conviction of the Sale of Narcotics Within 1500 Feet of a School on the Ground that the State Failed to Establish that the Sale Occurred Within 1500 Feet of a School. In 2007, Jeanne Pereira met the defendant behind a school for the purpose of purchasing crack cocaine. After Pereira entered the defendant's automobile, the defendant drove away from the school. While traveling in the defendant's vehicle, Pereira gave the defendant $80 in exchange for two bags of crack cocaine. The defendant subsequently drove back to the area behind the school, dropped off Pereira and left the scene in his vehicle. Thereafter, the defendant was charged with various drug offenses. After he was convicted of the sale of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school in violation of General Statutes § 21a-278a (b), the defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. The Appellate Court (127 Conn. App. 264) agreed, finding that the state failed to establish that the sale occurred within 1500 feet of a school. It first noted that there was no dispute that a portion of the route that the defendant and Pereira had traveled was located beyond the area that was within 1500 feet of the school. It then determined that the plain meaning of § 21a-278a (b) demonstrated that the state bore the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant conducted an actual, constructive or attempted transfer of crack cocaine to Pereira within the 1500 foot zone surrounding the school. It further opined that, for purposes of establishing a violation of § 21a-278a (b), it was insufficient to simply show that a portion of the defendant's course of conduct, which culminated in the physical delivery of the narcotics to Pereira, occurred within 1500 feet of a school. The court went on to hold that the state failed to satisfy its burden of proof because the evidence merely showed that the delivery occurred sometime after Pereira entered the defendant's automobile and prior to the time that she exited the vehicle. It therefore concluded that the defendant's conviction could not stand. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will decide whether the evidence was insufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction.