State v. Ingala, 072120 CTCA, AC 41135

Docket Nº:AC 41135
Opinion Judge:DEVLIN, J.
Party Name:STATE OF CONNECTICUT v. CHARLES J. INGALA
Attorney:Adele V. Patterson, senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant). Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Joseph S. Danielowski, for the appellee (state).
Judge Panel:DiPentima, C. J., and Moll and Devlin, Js.
Case Date:July 21, 2020
Court:Appellate Court of Connecticut
 
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STATE OF CONNECTICUT

v.

CHARLES J. INGALA

No. AC 41135

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 21, 2020

Argued March 10, 2020

Procedural History

Information charging the defendant with the crimes of interfering with an officer, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, criminal possession of a firearm, and breach of the peace in the second degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury, geographical area number four, where the court, Cremins, J., denied the defendant's motion to suppress; thereafter, the state entered a nolle prosequi as to the charges of interfering with an officer and breach of the peace in the second degree; subsequently, the defendant was presented to the court, Fasano, J., on a conditional plea of nolo contendere to possession of a sawed-off shotgun and criminal possession of a firearm; judgment of guilty in accordance with the plea, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

Affirmed.

Adele V. Patterson, senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Joseph S. Danielowski, for the appellee (state).

DiPentima, C. J., and Moll and Devlin, Js.

OPINION

DEVLIN, J.

The defendant, Charles J. Ingala, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a conditional plea of nolo contendere, 1 of possession of a sawed-off shotgun in violation of General Statutes § 53a-211 and criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217. The plea followed the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress the sawed-off shotgun seized by the police. The sole issue in this appeal is whether the warrantless search of the defendant's backyard and the warrantless seizure of the shotgun maybe justified under the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement of the fourth amendment to the United States constitution.2 We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the resolution of the defendant's claims on appeal.3 At approximately 11 p.m. on August 28, 2016, police officers with the Watertown Police Department were called to the scene of a motor vehicle accident that had occurred in Waterbury near the border of Watertown.4 Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, the officers learned that one of the vehicles involved had fled the accident. One of the officers, Jeffrey McKirryher, left in an attempt to locate this vehicle. Shortly thereafter, McKirryher was flagged down by George Petro, a motorcyclist, who had seen the accident. Petro told McKirryher that he had spoken to the driver of the vehicle who had left the scene of the accident and that the driver had pointed a sawed-off shotgun at Petro's head. Petro had a cut on his forehead and later explained that the driver had struck him in the head with the shotgun. Petro then informed McKirryher that the driver had fled to a nearby home and led McKirryher to the defendant's home at 411 Falls Avenue in Water-town. Petro indicated that the driver ‘‘was down around [the] back'' of the property. McKirryher alerted other police officers over his radio of the situation and informed them of his location. Shortly thereafter, four more officers from the Watertown Police Department arrived at 411 Falls Avenue, namely, Officer Jack Con-roy, Officer Mark Raimo, Sergeant Jason Demarest, and Sergeant David Ciarleglio.

The officers later described the defendant's home as follows. Falls Avenue runs north to south, and 411 Falls Avenue is located on the western side of the road. The primary structure at 411 Falls Avenue is a multifamily, three-story home with a few separate units. The defendant resides in the basement apartment of this structure. To the north of the property is a wooded area. A large commercial building, which was vacant at the time of the investigation, abuts the property to the west. On the southern border, there is a chain link fence that is approximately four feet high, which separates the property from a neighboring residential property. The land slopes down from Falls Avenue toward the western edge of the property such that the basement is visible and accessible from the rear of the property. A driveway runs from Falls Avenue to the rear of the property between the home and the northern edge of the property. Both the southern and northern sides of the property were open to the backyard.

After alerting the other officers over his radio, McKirryher walked down the driveway with his service weapon drawn and loudly announced his presence. As he reached the rear of the building, McKirryher saw the defendant's vehicle with severe front end damage parked at the end of the driveway. McKirryher then saw the defendant walk out of his apartment and instructed the defendant to raise his hands. When the police approached the defendant, he was visibly intoxicated. The defendant was placed in handcuffs and McKirryher questioned him about the shotgun. The defendant denied possessing a shotgun. The defendant then gave his consent to the officers to search his apartment and the backyard.

Over the course of approximately one-half hour, the officers searched the backyard and the defendant's apartment, but were unable to locate the shotgun...

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