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New London teen's case is unsealed after guilty plea

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Eighteen-year-old Adonis Smith of New London, whose criminal court file was sealed on Oct. 1 under a new law that allows juveniles accused of serious crimes to be tried in secrecy, pleaded guilty Monday in New London Superior Court to drug and weapons charges.

Pursuant to the law, Smith's case was unsealed by the clerk's office after he pleaded guilty before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein to  carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and failure to appear in court.

He remains incarcerated at the Manson Youth Institution and will be sentenced to 32 months in prison, followed by five years probation, on March 23. His sentencing hearing will be conducted in public, since he now stands convicted of the crimes.

New London police said that in August 2018, they seized from Smith, who turned 17 that month, almost 15 grams of marijuana, 2.6 grams of crack cocaine and a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The case was transferred from juvenile to adult court due to the seriousness of the charges and Smith's juvenile record. He had been placed on probation twice and on parole once for a serious juvenile offense, according to public records.

Following his arrest, Smith had been placed in an unlocked juvenile facility in Litchfield. He had somebody pick him up and remained at large for weeks, until he was located and taken into custody.

Out on bond while his court case was pending, Smith allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet in April 2019 and fled to Woonsocket, R.I. Rhode Island State Police, working with Connecticut authorities, arrested him as a fugitive from justice May 3 at a home in Woonsocket, where they said he was in possession of a gun and narcotics.

He remained imprisoned in Rhode Island, and on Aug. 13, 2019, waived extradition to Connecticut. The Rhode Island charges remain open.

On Oct. 1, when Public Act 19-187 took effect, court proceedings in Smith's case and 103 others were closed, and court clerks required to create separate dockets and seal the files of 15- to 17-year-olds who had previously been tried as adults due to the seriousness of their cases. Smith's case was included because of his age at the time the crimes occurred. The cases are to remain sealed until the juvenile pleads guilty or there is a guilty verdict after a secret trial.

The new law is being challenged by the Hartford Courant in U.S. District Court.

k.florin@theday.com

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