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State v. Quail

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

October 4, 2016


          Argued March 10, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Windham, geographical area number eleven, Swords, J.

          Daniel J. Foster, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          James M. Ralls, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patricia M. Froehlich, state's attorney, and Matthew A. Crockett, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Beach, Keller and Bishop, Js.


          KELLER, J.

         The defendant, Timothy J. Quail, Sr., appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, and larceny in the fifth degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-125a. The defendant claims that the court improperly denied his motion to suppress physical evidence, including the results of forensic testing performed on such physical evidence, that the police seized during a warrantless search of his sister's residence. We affirm the judgment of conviction.

         On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In December, 2009, the defendant was in a romantic relationship with the victim, Robin Cloutier. At or near that time, the defendant, who was unemployed, was not a licensed driver, and did not own an automobile, began residing with the victim at her apartment in Pomfret. Prior to the events underlying this appeal, the defendant expressed his desire to sell the victim's possessions without her permission. In a phone call to his son, which occurred while the victim was alive, the defendant conveyed that he had ‘‘things to sell, '' and wanted to meet with him on December 14, 2009.

         In the evening hours of December 13, 2009, the defendant and the victim drove together in the victim's truck to the apartment of the defendant's sister, Theresa Quail, in Plainfield. The defendant and the victim spent a portion of the evening at Theresa Quail's apartment, where they socialized and consumed alcohol with Theresa Quail and her boyfriend. Theresa Quail's son, Jesse Cousineau, and his girlfriend also were present. Later that evening, the victim and the defendant, who had displayed anger toward the victim that evening, abruptly left in the victim's truck; they subsequently returned to the victim's apartment.

         At some point after the defendant and the victim left Theresa Quail's apartment on December 13, 2009, but prior to the evening of December 14, 2009, the defendant struck the victim multiple times, both on her head and on other parts of her body, with a baseball bat. Using a knife, the defendant also stabbed the victim multiple times in her neck and torso. The physical assault occurred in the victim's bedroom, and the victim died as a result of the physical injuries inflicted by the defendant.[1]

         At or about the time that the defendant caused the victim's death, he took possession of numerous items that belonged to the victim by removing them from her residence and putting them inside of her truck. These items included a leather jacket, a desktop computer, a television, several cable television receivers, a collection of foreign currency, a new video game console in its original packaging, and loose change. At some point on December 14, 2009, the defendant left the victim's residence in her truck. At this point, the victim's cell phone had been turned off, the telephone at her apartment had been disconnected, her bedroom door was locked, the blinds in her apartment had been closed, and the doors to the apartment were locked. The defendant walked the victim's dog.[2] At or around noon on December 14, 2009, the defendant, driving the victim's truck alone, traveled to the residence of his mother, Gertrude Quail.

         During the course of conversation, the defendant's mother inquired about the victim's whereabouts. Although the victim was unemployed at that time, and was collecting unemployment compensation benefits, the defendant replied that the victim was ‘‘working.'' The victim's mother expressed her belief that the victim had been laid off, but the defendant disagreed. The defendant also stated that he had to pick the victim up from work later that afternoon, at 5 p.m.

         Later, on December 14, 2009, the defendant traveled in the victim's truck to a pawn shop in East Windsor. There, he sold the video game console, the desktop computer, and some of the foreign currency for $225. The owner of the pawn shop asked the defendant why he was selling a new, unopened video game console during the holiday season at the pawn shop. The defendant replied that he was separating from the person to whom he had intended to give it as a gift.

         On that same day, the defendant drove alone to a gentleman's club in East Windsor. The defendant spent time at the bar inside of the club, and in front of a stage where a female dancer, whom he tipped well that day, was performing. A short time thereafter, the defendant spoke with the dancer outside of the club, and he used her cell phone. When the dancer was leaving the club for the day, the defendant removed the victim's leather jacket from the victim's truck and gave it to her.

         The defendant contacted his son in an attempt to sell some of the other items that had belonged to the victim, telling his son that he was moving and that he needed money. Later, the defendant drove the victim's truck to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he abandoned it in a parking lot with empty tractor trailer trucks. The defendant abandoned the victim's television and cable television receivers in one of the empty trailers. The police did not retrieve the truck until December 23, 2009.

         In the early morning hours of December 15, 2009, the defendant arrived at a Sunoco gas station in Springfield. The store manager at the gas station spoke with the defendant, who appeared to be intoxicated and edgy; the defendant told him that his truck had been towed and that he needed to make a telephone call. After he used a telephone at the store, the defendant instructed the store manager to tell anyone who might call back that he would be at a nearby Mobil gas station. The defendant walked to the Mobil station and approached Michael Proulx, who was fueling his vehicle. The defendant asked Proulx if he could drive him to Enfield, and Proulx agreed. The defendant told Proulx that he had traveled to a liquor store in Massachusetts with his brother and his girlfriend, the police had towed his truck away while he was at the store, and his brother had been arrested. The defendant, who was carrying a backpack and appeared to be under the influence of drugs, told Proulx that his belongings were in the truck that had been towed away. Later that morning, Proulx left the defendant in Enfield, near the residence of the defendant's brother, Joel Quail. For several hours following his arrival at his brother's residence, the defendant hid inside a boat that was located in his brother's yard.

         At approximately 11 a.m. on December 15, 2009, the defendant knocked on the door to his brother's residence, and was greeted by his brother. He told Joel Quail that he had been walking all night because the Springfield police had confiscated his truck after finding a large knife in it. Later that day, Joel Quail drove the defendant to Theresa Quail's apartment in Plainfield. They were met there by their older sister, Linda Quail, who also was residing at the apartment. The defendant, Linda Quail, and Joel Quail spent several hours together. Eventually, they were joined by Theresa Quail, Theresa Quail's boyfriend, Cousineau, Cousineau's girlfriend, and other acquaintances of Theresa Quail.

         During a conversation between the defendant, Cousineau, and Linda Quail, the defendant stated that ‘‘he was going to be on the news and [despite] whatever they saw not to think differently of him.'' The defendant then hugged Cousineau. Cousineau asked the defendant about his relationship with the victim, but the defendant gestured that he did not want to talk about it. Shortly thereafter, Cousineau attempted to reach the victim by telephone, but he reached her voicemail.

         Later during the evening of December 15, 2009, the defendant became involved in an argument with Theresa Quail and her boyfriend, and he was asked to leave Theresa Quail's residence. Before he left, Theresa Quail asked the defendant about the victim's whereabouts. The defendant replied that she was at work. After he left Theresa Quail's residence, the defendant went to the residence of one of Theresa Quail's neighbors, Todd Houston, who was also a friend of his. Houston was socializing with his girlfriend and another friend when the defendant arrived at his apartment. The defendant was in possession of several bottles of beer and a bottle of the prescription medicine Xanax that bore the victim's name. During the course of conversation, Houston inquired about the victim. In reply, the defendant stated to Houston that the victim ‘‘[was] not doing too good, '' he and the victim had been in an argument, he ‘‘may or may not have hit her with a baseball bat, '' and the victim was dead. The defendant calmly yet tearfully related that he was with the victim, at her residence, when they observed a neighbor's dog outside. He stated that he and the victim brought the dog some type of straw bedding. Later, the neighbor who owned the dog arrived at the victim's apartment, armed with a gun. The defendant stated that he tried to calm the neighbor, but the defendant ultimately crawled to the bedroom, escaped from the apartment by means of a bedroom window, and crawled to the front of the apartment complex. He then stated ‘‘[s]omething to the effect that there was an argument and he may or may not have hit [the victim] with a baseball bat.'' Additionally, the defendant ‘‘said something to the effect that he was going to be on the news.'' Houston, believing that the defendant was joking about harming the victim, reacted to the defendant's statements by expressing his disbelief. Houston asked the defendant how he had arrived at his apartment, to which the defendant replied that he had hitchhiked, and that the victim's truck was ‘‘gone.'' Some of this conversation was overheard by Houston's girlfriend, Paula Peloquin, who overheard the defendant state his belief that he had struck the victim with a baseball bat. The defendant left Houston's apartment after approximately forty-five minutes.

         After departing Houston's residence either in the late evening hours of December 15, 2009, or the early morning hours of December 16, 2009, the defendant ultimately returned to Theresa Quail's apartment. He fell asleep in Linda Quail's bedroom, which was unoccupied. In the early afternoon of December 16, 2009, Cousineau and several others entered the bedroom. They found the defendant, lying on the floor and clad in boxer shorts. He was wrapped in blankets and a towel, unresponsive, and struggling to breathe. Cousineau called 911. Emergency medical personnel arrived at the apartment and transported the defendant to a nearby hospital.

         On December 16, 2009, the victim's father, Thomas Audrain, who believed that the victim feared the defendant, went to the victim's apartment twice, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon, after he learned from the victim's children that she had failed to pick them up from her former husband's home. Audrain observed that the victim's truck was not parked outside, and he did not observe any signs of forced entry into to the residence. He observed the victim's purse, wallet, and driver's license on the kitchen table therein. During his second visit to the residence in search of the victim, he used tools to forcibly open the victim's locked bedroom door.[3] He discovered the victim's lifeless body lying in a pool of blood on the bedroom floor. Audrain noticed evidence of a violent struggle in the bedroom, a broken television was on the floor, and a bloody baseball bat[4] was on the victim's bed. Audrain sought help from a neighbor of the victim, who called 911, after he realized that the telephones in the victim's residence had been disconnected. On the basis of the evidence at the crime scene, the police determined that the victim's murder occurred in her bedroom.

         On April 11, 2012, the state charged the defendant with committing murder and larceny in the fifth degree. Following a seven day trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of both charges. The court imposed a total ...

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