STATE v. SOLOMON BARNES, AC 29144/29145
Judicial District of New Haven at G.A. 23
Criminal; Whether the Evidence was Sufficient to Prove that the Defendant Constructively Possessed the Drugs and Guns Found in an Apartment; Whether Joinder of Two Drug-Related Cases was Proper; Whether the Evidence was Sufficient to Warrant a Consciousness of Guilt Instruction. On March 7, 2006, after being arrested for drug offenses, Emmit Scott agreed to cooperate with the police. Scott made a telephone call and arranged for a delivery of cocaine. When the defendant and another man arrived at the prearranged location to consummate the drug transaction, they were arrested. As a result of that incident, the defendant was charged with, inter alia, the crime of possession of a narcotic substance with intent to sell. Subsequently, the police obtained a search warrant to search the first floor apartment at 173 Thompson Street in New Haven where the defendant lived with his girlfriend. The search took place on May 21, 2006. During the search, the police found two guns, a bottle and several plastic bags containing Phencyclidine, commonly known as angel dust or PCP, and other drug paraphernalia. The police also found a Yale/New Haven Hospital identification badge that was issued in the defendant's name and a letter addressed to the defendant. As a result of that search (the "May incident"), the defendant was charged with, inter alia, criminal possession of a firearm, theft of a firearm, and possession of a hallucinogenic substance with intent to sell. The state filed a motion to consolidate the two informations for trial, claiming that consolidation was appropriate under State v. Boscarino, 204 Conn. 714 (1987), because the two cases involved discrete and distinguishable offenses, the crimes were not of a brutal or shocking nature, and the trial would not be too complex for the jury to follow. The trial court granted the state's motion to consolidate. At trial, the state presented evidence that, from March of 2001, until May 30, 2006, the defendant reported his address to the department of motor vehicles as 173 Thompson Street, New Haven. The jury ultimately acquitted the defendant of the crime of theft of a firearm but found him guilty of the remaining charges. On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for drug and gun offenses based on the May incident. Specifically, the defendant argues that because the state failed to prove that the defendant lived at 173 Thompson Street on the day that the apartment was searched, the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he constructively possessed the drugs and guns found in the apartment. He also claims that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the state's motion to consolidate the two cases. Finally, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on consciousness of guilt when there was no evidence that he fled from the police after the May incident.