Argued: June 25, 2019
Zachary J. Smith, Esq. (orally), Lawsmith Legal Services,
L.L.C., Bangor, for appellant Larry F. Coston II
Marianne Lynch, District Attorney, and Mark A. Rucci, Asst.
Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for
appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Larry F. Coston II appeals from a judgment of conviction of
burglary (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 401(1)(A) (2018),
entered by the court (Anderson, J.) after a jury
trial. He argues that the court erred in admitting recordings
of incriminating telephone conversations that he had with his
girlfriend while he was in jail. We affirm the judgment.
Coston was tried by a jury in October 2018 on a charge of
burglary arising from events that had occurred in May
2018. The State presented evidence that Coston
borrowed a car; drove his friend to a location near a
convenience store where the friend intended to break in to
steal cash or goods; and, after the friend broke into the
store and stole cigarettes, drove the friend home.
As part of its case-in-chief, the State sought to admit
recordings of Costons telephone conversations that were
recorded by the jail in which Coston was held after his
arrest. The State offered the testimony of a Penobscot County
jail administrator and a Dexter police officer to establish
the means by which the jails phone calls are recorded,
preserved, and retrieved. The jail has a contract with an
out-of-state company to provide telecommunications services
for inmates. Inmates are assigned identification numbers that
they must use to place calls. All calls in the jail are
recorded except for inmates calls to and from their attorneys
and calls placed on the separate, internal phone system of
the jail. The recordings are collected and preserved on the
companys servers outside of Maine.
The recordings may be accessed and searched by jail
administrators and law enforcement via a website that
requires entry of a username and password. The recordings
here were downloaded from the systems website by the Dexter
police officer, who kept his username secure in his desk at
work, had his password memorized, and accessed the website in
his office on a desktop computer that cannot be used without
a password. The officer testified that he did not alter the
recorded calls or delete anything from them.
Although Coston objected to the admission of the recordings,
asserting a failure of foundation and the States failure to
eliminate any possibility of tampering, there was no evidence
of tampering or other evidence suggesting any alteration of
the audio that was to be played to the jury. The court
determined that a sufficient foundation had been laid for the
recordings and admitted them, concluding that nothing
suggested that anyone had tampered with the recordings.
[¶6] After the State rested its case, Coston testified
that he had not known what his friend had intended to do when
he gave him a ride in the borrowed car and that he had not
become suspicious until his friend returned to the car
carrying cigarettes and wearing different clothes.
The jury found Coston guilty of burglary, and the court
sentenced him to one year of imprisonment, with all but sixty