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State v. Flanders

Supreme Court of Connecticut

April 10, 1990

STATE of Connecticut
v.
James FLANDERS.

Argued Jan. 9, 1990.

Page 984

Ronald Gold, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

Susan C. Marks, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were John M. Bailey, State's Atty., and Herbert Carlson, Jr., Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (State).

Before PETERS, C.J., and ARTHUR H. HEALEY, GLASS, HULL and SANTANIELLO, JJ.

Page 985

[214 Conn. 494] SANTANIELLO, Associate Justice.

The defendant, James Flanders, was charged by information on January 23, 1987, with the crimes of murder in violation of General Statutes [214 Conn. 495] § 53a-54a [1] and felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c. [2] On October 13, 1987, the information was amended, and he was charged with a third count, burglary in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-102(a). [3] After a jury trial, the [214 Conn. 496] defendant was acquitted of murder and convicted of both felony murder and burglary in the second degree. He was sentenced to an effective term of imprisonment of sixty years. On appeal, he claims that the trial court erred in: (1) refusing to admit into evidence statements made by the victim claimed to be admissible under the spontaneous utterance exception to the hearsay rule; (2) refusing to order the state to file a supplemental bill of particulars, thus denying him the right to notice of the charges against him in violation of his rights as guaranteed by the United States and Connecticut constitutions; and (3) failing to charge the jury on felony murder as requested, thus denying him his constitutional right to a unanimous verdict as guaranteed by the United States and Connecticut constitutions. We find no reversible error.

The jury could reasonably have found the following facts: Wladyslaw, Stanislaus, and Jan Brzoska were Polish immigrants who lived together in a third floor apartment at 174 Broad Street in New Britain. Wladyslaw and Stanislaus were brothers, and Jan was their cousin. They spoke little English. On Saturday, September 20, 1986, they attended the New Britain Harvest Festival together. While returning home between 1 and 1:30 a.m., Wladyslaw and Stanislaus, both of whom were feeling the effect of alcoholic beverages consumed that evening, were approached by a black woman, Annette Conaway, at a street corner near their apartment.

Conaway had met with the defendant, James Flanders, shortly Before her encounter with Wladyslaw and Stanislaus. He had asked her what she was doing, and after she stated that she was waiting for some drunk men to come along so that she

Page 986

could hustle them, the defendant stated, "Well, I'm going to stay with you." She replied, "I don't care."

[214 Conn. 497] When Conaway saw the two Brzoska brothers approaching, she walked across the street to speak with them. She was invited to their apartment, and she and the men walked across the street and into the alley leading to the apartment. While accompanying the brothers, she gave the defendant a wave, which he took to mean "come on." After arriving at the brothers' apartment, Conaway went to the kitchen and poured three glasses of vodka. Stanislaus gave a $20 bill to Conaway, and she went into Stanislaus' bedroom with the two brothers where discussions ensued. Stanislaus changed his mind and asked for the $20 back, but Conaway refused to comply. Looking from the bedroom door, she saw the defendant standing next to the refrigerator attempting to lift a television set that was in the kitchen. She was not surprised to see the defendant in the kitchen because, "We was hustling together." Conaway and the two brothers argued for a period of time about her failure to perform promised services and the return of the $20. Conaway and Wladyslaw moved from the bedroom into the kitchen and continued to argue about the return of the money. Stanislaus remained in the bedroom and went to sleep. Conaway finally gave Wladyslaw two $1 bills. He was upset and remonstrated, pantomiming about getting a knife and stabbing "somebody's eyes out." Conaway left the apartment and went across the street to wait for the defendant near a furniture store.

At the time Conaway left the apartment, she did not know where the defendant was, although at one point she saw him walk in the direction of the apartment exit door. About one hour later, Conaway returned to the apartment because, "I knew I had poured that vodka in the glasses. I knew my fingerprints would be on the glasses." She got on her knees to look under the kitchen door. She saw Wladyslaw lying on the floor with blood on his chest.

[214 Conn. 498] At or about the same time, Stanislaus was awakened from his sleep by the sound of his brother moaning the word "oye." Stanislaus went into the kitchen where he found his brother lying on the floor, the victim of a stab wound to the chest area. Stanislaus asked his brother what happened. "[T]hen he said that to this black-to this charnota, I was stabbed." Wladyslaw then asked Stanislaus to call his sister and an ambulance. As Stanislaus was calling their sister, Regina Deblowski, his cousin, Jan Brzoska, returned to the apartment. When Regina arrived at the apartment, she saw Wladyslaw lying on the floor and heard him say, "Oh, mother of God," and then he said nothing further. Regina then called her sister-in-law, Janina Brzoska, and within ten to fifteen minutes, Janina and her husband arrived at the apartment. Shortly thereafter the police were called. Wladyslaw, who was unconscious, was treated and removed by emergency medical technicians to New Britain General Hospital where he died.

At trial, the state presented four witnesses who testified that the defendant made certain admissions to them. Eddie Rose, Jr., testified that he spoke with the defendant by telephone after September 21 and that the defendant had said, "Four guys were coming at me and one had a knife." He further said, "I had to jug one with a knife." Lois Brown testified that the defendant had told her that he grabbed a man's wrist and stabbed him with the man's own knife and that this had taken place on Broad Street. Shirley Williams testified that she was walking in New Britain late on September 20 or early September 21, when she encountered the defendant running. In response to her questions, the defendant said that he and Annette Conaway had been at a house on Broad Street. Several men had tried to attack them and he had stabbed one of them with a kitchen knife. Willie Holley testified that he was [214 Conn. 499] present when Shirley Williams and the defendant had their conversation and confirmed Williams' testimony.

When the defendant was arrested, he was found hiding in a closet in his brother's apartment. Testimony at trial revealed that the ...


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