A 25-year-old New London man accused of exchanging gunfire with another man after stealing a bag of marijuana entered a plea today in the .
, of Garfield Ave., entered an Alford plea to charges of attempted second-degree assault and carrying a pistol without a permit. The plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state would likely be able to convict him at trial. The plea reduces an initial charge of attempted first-degree assault and dismisses charges of first-degree robbery, criminal use of a weapon, illegal discharge of a weapon, first-degree reckless endangerment, and possession of marijuana.
The plea agreement allows Daniels to receive a sentence of six years in prison, suspended after two years, with three years of probation. He may argue for a reduced punishment at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 9.
According to an affidavit by Detective Richard Curcuro of the , Daniels arranged a meeting with 26-year-old Matthew Caulfield at a multifamily apartment building at 4 Perry Street on the evening of Dec. 15. Caulfield told police he had sold an eighth of an ounce of marijuana to a friend to give to Daniels, and that Daniels wanted to buy more of the drug.
Caulfield said he was armed with a .45 caliber pistol while he was bagging marijuana for Daniels. He said Daniels pulled a gun on him while his back was turned, then grabbed a bag of marijuana and fled the apartment after Caulfield drew his own weapon.
Caulfield said he chased after Daniels and fired at him after Daniels shot at him while going down the stairs. Police found that one of the bullets traveled into a gas stove in a vacant apartment.
Police identified Daniels through cell phone records, and Caulfield and his friend confirmed his identity via photograph. Daniels was
According to Connecticut criminal records, Daniels was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree accessory to larceny in Norwich in 2007 and received a suspended six-month sentence. He also received a suspended six-month sentence in 2010 in New London after he was convicted of second-degree breach of peace.
Police seized Caulfield’s pistol as well as ammunition, about two ounces of marijuana, scales, plastic bags, and drug paraphernalia. Caulfield had a valid pistol permit and told police he is an Iraq War veteran who uses marijuana to relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. He said he was selling marijuana to help support the habit.
Caulfield, who has no prior criminal history in Connecticut, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal use of a firearm, illegal discharge of a firearm, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 19.