The case involves an appeal from a judgment of the county court on a verdict convicting a 30-year old man of criminal possession of marihuana, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a weapon, and two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia.
According to the facts of the case, one December in 1984, a police officer, armed with warrants for the arrest of two named persons and one unnamed person who were caught in a drug raid the previous day. The defendant in this case was allegedly the unnamed person in the warrant who accompanied the two named persons. A search of the Plymouth used by those named in the warrants revealed, among others, a large quantity of marijuana, pills, capsules containing cocaine, and a loaded pistol. The defendant now appeals from his conviction after trial on all counts of an indictment.
The appellate court said it found no errors, either at the suppression hearing or the trial, requiring reversal of the indictment. The appellate court pointed out that there was ample proof to establish probable cause for defendant’s arrest.
The appellate court noted that the defendant’s arrival in the yellow Plymouth with Vermont license places, as described by the informant where the warrants were based, accompanied by two known sellers of drugs, their entry into the apartment which had been the subject of a successful drug raid the day before, defendant’s flight and giving false identification information when apprehended, were more than sufficient to establish probable cause. The appellate court also noted that there was also ample probable cause to sustain the search of the vehicle.
The appellate court further noted that the evidence does not support defendant’s contention that the search of the vehicle occurred before the search warrant was issued. This contention, the appellate court noted, is based on the testimony of an investigator that he called the authorities to make an inquiry concerning defendant’s identity after the search. Therefore, the appellate court concluded, it was not error for the county court to have received evidence of uncharged crimes at the trial.
Counsel for the defendant argued that the drugs were placed in the vehicle by other persons and the defendant was not aware of this. The appellate court, however, junked this defense argument holding that evidence of recent drug transactions in which defendant participated under almost identical circumstances was clearly designed to meet defendant’s trial strategy, and was thus probative to establish his knowledge of the existence of the drugs on the day of arrest, and responsibility therefor.
The appellate court pointed out that a case law states that evidence of uncharged crimes is competent to prove, among other things, a defendant’s intent. However, the deliniation in the case law of categories of instances where uncharged crimes are admissible is not exclusive. Thus, the appellate court ruled, evidence of uncharged crimes has been held to be admissible to prove commission of possessory crimes, similar to those charged in this case, where the mental element of the crime is guilty knowlege rather than intent.
The appellate court also deemed it proper to admit into evidence an admission made by the defendant at the police station following his arrest, despite that admission not having been the subject of a pre-trial notice by the prosecution. Since the admission was not offered by the prosecution, but was elicited during defendant’s cross-examination of a prosecution witness, rules on criminal laws do not apply, the appellate court held.
The appellate court also found the defendant’s remaining assignments of error without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the conviction.
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