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State v. Moody

Supreme Court of Connecticut

April 24, 1990

STATE of Connecticut
Ronald C. MOODY.

Argued March 7, 1990.

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David E. O'Connor, Special Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

James A. Killen, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, State's Atty., and David Gold, Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).


[214 Conn. 617] GLASS, Associate Justice.

The defendant in this case, Ronald C. Moody, was arrested on March 13, 1987, and charged with the murder of Andrew Long, in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a. [1] Pursuant to General Statutes § 54-46a, [2] a probable cause hearing was

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held Before [214 Conn. 618] Judge William L. Hadden on May 5, 6 and 7, 1987. At the conclusion of this hearing, Judge Hadden ruled that the state had not established probable cause for the murder charge. The state then requested that another probable cause hearing be scheduled so that it could present further evidence to support the murder charge.

On May 14, 1987, a second probable cause hearing commenced Before Judge Barry R. Schaller, during which the state again sought to present evidence establishing probable cause for the murder charge. Judge Schaller, however, ruled that the state, once again, had failed to establish probable cause for the murder [214 Conn. 619] charge. The state then requested that the murder charge be "dismissed without prejudice." In response to the state's request, Judge Schaller dismissed the murder charge without prejudice. On September 3, 1987, a third probable cause hearing was held, once again, Before Judge Hadden. This time, Judge Hadden found probable cause to support the murder charge. The defendant was tried to a jury of twelve, which, on October 13, 1988, found him guilty of murder. Judge Hadden then sentenced the defendant to forty-five years imprisonment.

On appeal, the defendant claims: (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because of insufficient evidence to support the verdict; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude certain evidence, thus permitting the state to present irrelevant and prejudicial evidence; (3) that it was error for a subsequent probable cause hearing to be held Before a different judge and absent significant new evidence; and (4) that the court's dismissal of the information without prejudice at the second probable cause hearing was erroneous. We find error only in the trial court's failure to grant the defendant's motion in limine.

The jury could reasonably have found the following facts. On the afternoon of Saturday, February 28, 1987, Malcolm Thomas visited the victim, Andrew Long, at Long's apartment in New Haven. Thomas had a drink, and they both watched videotapes. Later, they drove downtown to Macy's to purchase another VCR so that they could make copies of the videotapes. At the mall, Thomas and Long ran into the defendant, and Long invited the defendant to drop by his apartment later in the day. Thomas and Long then returned to Long's apartment after stopping to buy two one liter bottles of ginger ale. Upon arriving at Long's apartment, they [214 Conn. 620] carried in the new VCR, the ginger ale and two one-half gallon sized bottles of vodka that had been in Long's car. In the apartment, Thomas and Long opened one of the new bottles of vodka and made drinks, and Thomas began connecting the new VCR with the old one. A short time later, the defendant arrived and stayed for fifteen to twenty minutes. He spoke with Long while Thomas continued attempting to connect the two VCRs. Thomas did not see the defendant have a drink at that time. The defendant then left the apartment saying he would be right back, but he did not return during the one or two hours that Thomas remained at the apartment.

At approximately 11:30 the next morning, Sunday, March 1, three young men passed by Long's apartment on their way to play basketball. One of these men, Anthony Johnson, knew the defendant from their previous attendance together at the

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Westover job corps. Another man, Robert Williams, knew Long personally. Williams testified that he saw Long and another man, whom he later identified as the defendant, arguing in front of Long's apartment. Johnson testified that he did not know Long, but recognized the defendant and said, "How are you doing Moody," and Moody said "Hi" in return. At one point during the argument, Williams heard Long say, "I'm sick of your shit," and then Long turned to go into his apartment and the defendant grabbed his arm. Long pulled his arm away and went into his apartment, followed by the defendant.

At approximately 2 o'clock that afternoon, Long drove over to Earl Osborne's house and brought him back to his apartment. While at the apartment, the two men drank vodka and ginger ale and watched a basketball game. At one point, Leslie Williams, a friend of Long, stopped by and said she had car trouble and asked for assistance. While Leslie Williams was in the [214 Conn. 621] apartment, Osborne went to the refrigerator to make another drink, but Long asked him not to do so because there was only "about an inch" of vodka left. Long and Osborne then went out and helped Leslie Williams get her car started. The two men then went and purchased some Kentucky Fried Chicken, and returned to Long's apartment at about 4 p.m. Upon returning to the apartment, Long and Osborne had another drink, and Long played a videotape. Long and Osborne then changed into shorts and proceeded to engage in oral sex while watching the videotape. Thereafter, Long said "he had company coming over," so he had to take Osborne home. Before they left, however, they cleaned up the apartment, "including the glasses." Osborne returned home at approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday, and Long was seen returning to his apartment, with a bag in his hands, at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.

That same night, at about 11:30 p.m., Long was beaten to death in his apartment with a blunt instrument. The evidence indicated that Long had been lying back on a couch, naked except for an open shirt, when he was beaten on the head and chest. The state's criminologist testified that, after Long was killed, his arm was moved so that his hand pointed to his penis. Furthermore, there was blood spattered in all directions, covering the walls, curtains and windows. The television set was on, with the screen showing static. Connected to the set were two VCRs, both in the "on" position and both containing videotapes that had been stopped midway.

On the floor next to Long's body was a drinking glass. A subsequent fingerprint examination revealed two sets of latent fingerprints on the glass, one belonging to Long and one belonging to the defendant. It was also determined that the defendant's fingerprints had been superimposed over Long's. In the kitchen sink, the [214 Conn. 622] detectives discovered a drinking glass containing a "reddish-brown" substance. This substance was later determined to be approximately three "driplets" of blood consistent with Long's blood type, and the fingerprints on the glass matched those of the defendant. A third glass on the kitchen counter also contained the fingerprints of both the defendant and Long. In addition, the defendant's fingerprints were lifted from the refrigerator door. In the refrigerator were a bottle of vodka and a bottle of ginger ale, both of which were almost full. The latent fingerprints lifted from the ginger ale bottle matched both the fingerprints of Long and the defendant. Those removed from the vodka bottle matched only those of the defendant. The ...

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