BRIDGEPORT - Fearing deportation after police found a third of a pound of cocaine in his apartment, Martin Dejesus-Estevez rejected a plea bargain and instead chose to roll the dice with a jury.
Ten minutes after they began deliberations, the Superior Court jury on Thursday found the 35-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic not guilty of all charges.
“My client’s very gratified with the verdict,” said John R. Gulash, after he and his client embraced outside the courtroom. “The jury was very attentive.”
The Statewide Narcotics Task Force had gotten a tip that Dejesus-Estevez, who was in this country on a green card, had been selling drugs out of a van in the city, according to testimony at trial.
When police arrested him outside the Norman Street apartment on Jan. 11, 2016, police testified Dejesus-Estevez gave them the apartment keys. The Norman Street apartment was listed as his address on his driver’s license.
They obtained a search warrant and during a subsequent search of the apartment police said they found a third of a pound of cocaine, drug packaging materials and $69,000 in cash. Dejesus-Estevez was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell by a non-drug dependent person and illegal distribution of a controlled substance near a school.
Dejesus-Estevez did not testify during the trial and his lawyer presented no witnesses. Instead, Gulash argued that the state had not proved that Dejesus-Estevez had sole control of the apartment where the drugs were found.
“They didn’t prove he had exclusive possession,” jurors said as they left the Fairfield County Courthouse.
State prosecutors have filed a motion with Judge Earl Richards to seize the drugs and the cash.