Jury quickly acquits man of heroin sale charge

LACONIA — The Manchester man who was charged with selling heroin to a confidential informant working with the Laconia Police was acquitted by a jury that deliberated for only about an hour yesterday in Belknap County Superior Court.
The jury of 12 found Alfredo Gonzales, 46, of 363 Center St. Apt. 1 F, not guilty,  announcing its decision yesterday at 2 p.m., after hearing three days of testimony.
Gonzales was accused of coming to Laconia on August 23, 2011 to sell four $40-bags of heroin to Angela Shaw in a drug deal arranged by Shaw that was alleged to have happened around 11 p.m. in the foyer of an apartment building at 22 Strafford St., the Normadin Square Apartments.
Atty. Mark Sisti represented Gonzales and successfully argued that Asst. Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern failed to prove four key points — that the four bags of heroin recovered by police from the confidential information were in Gonzales's mouth as she had claimed; that the confidential informant Angela Shaw couldn't be trusted; that the police tape of the phone calls she made to Gonzales and of a "controlled drug buy" were poor quality and inconclusive; and the police didn't control the "controlled buy."
A "controlled buy" was described by testifying police detectives as a drug deal where drugs are sold to an informant working with police in a situation controlled by them rather than using an undercover police officer to purchase the drugs directly from the target.
"The police didn't control the buy, Angela Shaw controlled them," Sisti said in closing. He said she "set up" Gonzales for sales of heroin because she didn't want to go to jail and the evidence provided by Ahern at trial didn't prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said she chose the time and the place and was motivated to get heroin from Gonzales for the police so she wouldn't go to jail.
When testifying, Shaw said her actions and testimony were "all about me." She wept when Sisti grilled her about her motives for bringing Gonzales to Laconia, admitting she had a heroin "habit."
Shaw, who had been charged with two counts of robbery, criminal threatening, and simple assault stemming from an incident at Walmart in Gilford testified she agreed to buy heroin from Gonzales for the police in exchange for "consideration" on the charges she was facing.
Shaw testified she pleaded guilty to the simple assault for pushing a pregnant woman, served six months in the Belknap County House of Corrections and was placed on probation. She had been facing prison.
In the time since Gonzales's first trial, which ended in a mistrial in November of 2012, Shaw has pleaded guilty to theft by deception, served 15 days in the house of corrections, and admitted on the stand that she is a suspected in shoplifting ring for which she faces a probation violation.
Also critical, said Sisti was the DNA evidence — or lack of it. According to Shaw, Gonzales "coughed up" four small bags of heroin and gave them to her while the two were in the foyer at the apartment building.
When the bags were tested for saliva by criminalists at the state lab, two swabs (one for two bags and the second for the other two bags) taken by detectives and stored in two separate tubes were negative for two of the four bags of heroin and positive for the other two. A second test DNA test showed at least one of the remaining two bags that tested positive for saliva tested positive for Gonzales's DNA.
When he took the stand in his own defense, Gonzales testified yesterday morning his saliva was on one bag because when Shaw handed him the heroin he expected to get oxycodone and tried to taste one of them. He said she grabbed it away from him.
As to the audio tape of the actual alleged exchange, it was undecipherable. Placed in Shaw's pocketbook, the only thing on the recorder that could be heard when it was played in the courtroom by prosecutors Wednesday was noise, the sound of what may have been a door opening and closing and a few snippets of conversation that, taken out of context, were undecipherable.
Gonzales testified that Shaw called him at least 20 times the day of the August 23, 2011 "controlled buy," but Shaw said the police didn't check her phone. Ahern produced for evidence four phone conversations between Shaw and Gonzales at the trial.
Detectives and Shaw testified that she was searched before and after the alleged drug purchase but all said neither her panties or body cavities — except her mouth — were searched. The $160 given to Shaw by police for the transaction was never recovered.
Gonzales remains in the Belknap County House of Corrections on $100,000 cash bail. He has also been indicted by a separate grand jury for one count of heroin sales that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Ashley Denty in April of 2010. He faces a separate charge of assault by prisoner for an altercation he was in while incarcerated and awaiting trial.