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Stevenson v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 10, 2016

TERRANCE STEVENSON
v.
COMMISSIONEROF CORRECTION

Argued January 12, 2016

Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Cobb, J.

Stephen A. Lebedevitch, for the appellant (petitioner).

Leon F. Dalbec, Jr., senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, state’s attorney, and Adrienne Maciulewski, assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Keller, Js.

DiPENTIMA, C. J.

The petitioner, Terrance Stevenson, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his amended petition for a writ of habeas cor-pus.Onappeal, the petitioner claims that the court erred when it concluded that (1) the state did not commit a Brady[1] violation and (2) there was no reasonable likelihood that the false testimony of a state’s witness affected the judgment of the jury. We affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

The facts underlying the petitioner’s conviction were recounted in this court’s decision disposing of his direct appeal: ‘‘On March 21, 1994, Jeffrey Dolphin became involved in a dispute with James Baker and the [petitioner] over a lost quantity of cocaine. At some point during this dispute, Baker, Dolphin and the [petitioner] were joined by Jermaine Harris, also known as ‘Chico, ’ and Trent Butler. While Dolphin maintained that a third party lost the cocaine, the [petitioner] blamed Dolphin for the missing cocaine and pulled a gun on him.

‘‘Thereafter, Baker asked, ‘Why don’t we make this motherfucker do it?’ The [petitioner] pointed the gun at Dolphin again and forced him into the back of an old white station wagon driven by Baker. Butler, Harris, and the [petitioner] were also in the car. Butler then told Dolphin that they wanted him to shoot somebody to make up for the money that he had lost, which Dolphin refused to do.

‘‘Upon Dolphin’s refusal, Harris stated that he would shoot the victim, Amenophis Morris. At that point, Baker parked the vehicle on Exchange Street in New Haven, about one-half block from the victim’s home. Harris got out of the car, put on a mask and walked to the victim’s home accompanied by the [petitioner], while the others remained behind. Both of the men were armed. Dolphin then heard nine or ten gunshots from the direction of the victim’s home, although he could not see who was shooting. When Harris and the [petitioner] returned to the vehicle, Harris shouted, ‘I got him!’ The victim had been shot to death as he sat on his front porch eating dinner.

‘‘When the men let Dolphin out on another street, they threatened him and told him not to say anything about what had happened. Approximately one month after the homicide, the New Haven police department arrested Dolphin on unrelated narcotics charges. While in custody, Dolphin provided the police with information implicating Baker, Butler and Harris in the homicide. Dolphin did not give the police the [petitioner’s] name or his street name, ‘Joe the Flea.’ The following day, Dolphin made a photographic identification of Harris.

‘‘In February, 1995, in a tape-recorded statement, Dolphin informed Butler’s attorney, Leo Ahern, that the information he had told the police was false. Thereafter, in early March, 1995, in another conversation with the New Haven police, Dolphin made photographic identifications of Butler and Baker. At that time, Dolphin stated to the police that he did not recognize anyone else in the array of photographs, including the [petitioner]. In September, 1995, Dolphin informed the state’s attorney’s office that the statement that he made to Ahern was false. It was not until October 31, 1995, that Dolphin informed the police that the fourth individual involved in the homicide was ‘Joe the Flea, ’ and that his real name was Terrance Stevenson, the [petitioner].’’ State v. Stevenson, 53 Conn.App. 551, 553–55, 733 A.2d 253, cert. denied, 250 Conn. 917, 734 A.2d 990 (1999).

The habeas court found the following additional facts and provided the procedural history underlying this appeal. ‘‘Dolphin was the key state’s witness against the petitioner, placing him at the scene of the crime and confirming his participation in the shooting and its planning. Thus, Dolphin’s credibility was a key issue at the criminal trial.

‘‘At the criminal trial, on direct examination, the jury was informed about Dolphin’s inconsistent statements to police and . . . [to] Ahern regarding his identification of the petitioner, including that he lied to police and to Ahern. The petitioner’s trial counsel also ...


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