A Waterford resident will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to charges related to a Perry Street gunfight over an attempted theft of marijuana.
Judge Susan B. Handy sentenced Matthew Michael Caulfield, 27, to a suspended three-year prison sentence and two-year term of probation on Thursday in the New London Superior Court. During probation, Caulfield must obey all laws, have no contact with a co-defendant, attend psychological and substance abuse counseling and treatment if necessary, comply with the Veterans Administration, take no drugs of alcohol aside from prescribed medications, submit to random alcohol and drug screenings, pursue education or work and have no association with drug dealers, drug users, convicted felons or gang members.
Caulfield was originally charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal use of a weapon, illegal discharge of a firearm, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and use of drug paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty to illegal discharge of a firearm and possession of marijuana with intent to sell on January 3rd.
According to a New London Police Department affidavit, Caulfield agreed to meet with Quadell Daniels, 25, on the evening of Dec. 15, 2011, at a multi-family apartment building on Perry Street to sell him an eighth-of-an-ounce of marijuana. Caulfield said he was armed with a .45 caliber pistol during the exchange, but that Daniels pulled a firearm on him while his back was turned and then grabbed a bag of marijuana and fled.
Caulfield said he pursued Daniels and fired at him after Daniels shot at him while he was going down a flight of stairs. Police found one of the bullets fired in the exchange lodged in the gas stove of a vacant apartment.
Caulfield has no prior criminal history. He had a valid pistol permit at the time and told police he was an Iraq War veteran who used marijuana to relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, while selling the drug to help support the habit.
Daniels was identified through cell phone records and photographs shown to Caulfield and a friend who set up the drug deal. He previously received suspended sentences for accessory to larceny and breach of peace in 2007 and 2010. He entered an Alford plea to attempted second-degree assault and carrying a pistol without a permit on August 20th and was sentenced to six years in prison, suspended after two years, with three years of probation.