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State v. Boyd

Supreme Court of Connecticut

March 6, 1990

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Terrence BOYD.

Argued Nov. 2, 1989.

[214 Conn. 133] John F. Kavanewsky, Jr., for appellant (defendant).

Geoffrey E. Marion, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Eugene J. Callahan, State's Atty., David I. Cohen, Asst. State's Atty. and Eric M. Higgins, Legal Intern, for appellee (State).

Before ARTHUR H. HEALEY, SHEA, GLASS, COVELLO and HULL, JJ.

GLASS, Associate Justice.

The defendant, Terrence Boyd, was charged in a substitute information with the crimes of felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, [1] burglary in

Page 1126

the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-101(a)(2), larceny in the third degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-119 and 53a-124(a)(1) and larceny in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-119 and 53a-122(a)(3). All of the charges stemmed from the murder of Ann Viner during the burglary of her home in New Canaan, [214 Conn. 134] on December 10, 1986. After a trial to a jury of twelve, the defendant was found guilty on all of the charges except larceny in the first degree. On January 21, 1988, the defendant was sentenced to an effective prison term of forty-five years.

The defendant's principal argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in finding probable cause to prosecute him for felony murder. Specifically, at a joint probable cause hearing, the state offered evidence against the defendant and his codefendant, Tyrone Wilson. [2] Neither the defendant nor Wilson took the stand and, in effect, the only evidence offered by the state implicating the defendant in Ann Viner's murder was a written statement made by Wilson. [3] In particular, Wilson claimed in his statement that, while both he and the defendant participated in the burglary of the Viner residence, it was the defendant who killed Ann Viner.

The defendant contends that the trial court improperly admitted Wilson's statement for the following reasons: (1) the statement was hearsay and did not come under any recognized exception to the hearsay rule; and (2) admission of the statement violated his right to confrontation under the sixth amendment to the United States constitution and article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution. Thus, the defendant asserts, and [214 Conn. 135] the state concedes, that without Wilson's statement, there was insufficient evidence offered by the state to find probable cause to prosecute the defendant for felony murder.

I

In assessing the defendant's claim, we must undertake several levels of inquiry. First, because the defendant received a fair trial, [4] we must resolve the question of whether appellate review of the trial court's probable cause determination is warranted in this case. If so, we must then determine whether the trial court erred in admitting Wilson's statement at the probable cause hearing.

A

Article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution, as amended, provides in part that "[n]o person shall be held to answer for any crime, punishable by death or life imprisonment, unless upon probable cause shown at a hearing in accordance with procedures prescribed by law." In State v. Mitchell, 200 Conn. 323, 331, 512 A.2d 140 (1986), we held that "appellate review of the determination of probable cause is essential to fulfilling the purpose of [article first, § 8]." Furthermore, we stated that "an invalid finding of probable cause at

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such a hearing undermines the court's power to hear the case at trial." Id., at 332, 512 A.2d 140.

Moreover, in Mitchell, we held that the standard for determining whether probable cause exists is " 'whether the government's evidence would warrant a person of [214 Conn. 136] reasonable caution to believe that the accused [had] committed the crime.' " Id., 200 Conn. at 336, 512 A.2d 140. We further noted that, when a defendant claims the evidence presented by the state was insufficient to meet this standard, "we must examine the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing to determine whether it was sufficient to support the trial court's finding of probable cause." Id., at 335, 512 A.2d 140. In our recent decision of State v. McPhail, 213 Conn. 161, 170, 567 A.2d 812 (1989), we reaffirmed this principle, stating: "[I]mplicit in our decision [in Mitchell ] was an understanding that, at the very least, ...


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