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State v. Bouknight

Supreme Court of Connecticut

November 22, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
DERRICK BOUKNIGHT

          Argued October 17, 2016

          Richard E. Condon, Jr., senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

          Timothy F. Costello, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patrick J. Griffin, state's attorney, Michael Dearington, former state's attorney, and Michael Pepper, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald and Robinson, Js.

          OPINION

          EVELEIGH, J.

         The defendant, Derrick Bouknight, appeals[1] from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a (a), using a firearm in the commission of a felony in violation of General Statutes § 53-202k, carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35, and criminal possession of a pistol or revolver in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217c (a) (1). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion in ruling that a Facebook[2] profile page and photographs thereon were properly authenticated.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the present appeal, which arises out of a deadly shooting in the city of New Haven following a dispute between the victim, William Baines, and some of his neighbors. Baines lived in a house on West Division Street in New Haven with his girlfriend, Norma Monique Walters, and her cousin Ella Charie Evans. On October 9, 2010, Baines had won a physical altercation with Sherrod Daniels, which had started over a $100 debt that Baines believed Daniels owed him. Later that day, Baines and Daniels engaged in a verbal argument near the intersection of West Division Street and Dixwell Avenue. Walter's mother, Patricia Outlaw, was in the vicinity, intervened, and told Baines to calm down. After speaking briefly with Outlaw, Baines headed back to his house, which was just a short distance away. Soon thereafter, Daniels approached Baines' house with two other individuals. One of these individuals gave Outlaw $100 which was, in turn, given to Baines.

         Later, there was an altercation between Baines and Korey Streater, who was a friend of Daniels. During that altercation Baines punched Streator and knocked him to the ground in front of a crowd of spectators. Again, Outlaw intervened and broke up the conflict.

         A short while later, Baines was sitting on the front steps of his house with his mother, Tracy Fulton, his cousin, Michael Nicholson, and Nicholson's friend, Anthony Little. As Nicholson spoke to Baines, the defendant approached through an empty lot adjacent to the house. The defendant and Baines engaged in a heated discussion, during which the defendant demanded to know where the money was. Baines replied, ‘‘[I]t ain't got nothing to do with you, '' ‘‘it's mine, '' and ‘‘I don't owe nobody no money . . . .'' The defendant and Baines continued to argue like this for a few minutes.

         Evans, who had been inside the house, came out onto the porch. She recognized the defendant, with whom she was very familiar from having lived in the area. Evans observed that the defendant was wearing a plaid shirt with a black hood and a baseball cap that bore ‘‘some type of [crossed] symbol'' and had a red under- side to its bill. He was also wearing a pair of acid-washed jeans, which Evans had noticed him wearing on previous occasions.

         As the argument between the defendant and Baines escalated, Baines stood up from the steps, and the defendant pulled out a black semiautomatic handgun. Both Evans and Nicholson observed that the defendant was wearing a black glove on his right hand, with which he held the gun, but was wearing no glove on his left hand. Evans pleaded with the defendant to look at her and reminded the defendant that Baines' mother was right there. Nevertheless, the defendant raised his gun and, from a distance of between a few inches to an arm's length, fired one shot into Baines' chest, killing him.

         As Baines fell, the defendant began to walk east along West Division Street toward Dixwell Avenue. He stopped briefly, turned back toward where Baines lay on the ground, and pointed the gun toward those standing at the scene. As the defendant continued to walk away, he encountered Walters, who was walking west. The defendant then turned into a vacant lot and fled.

         Later that day, Evans identified the defendant from a police photographic array. Three days later, Walters likewise identified the defendant from a photographic array as the man she had seen fleeing the scene of Baines' murder.

         The defendant was not seen in the vicinity of West Division Street and Dixwell Avenue after the shooting. He had fled to Elizabeth, New Jersey, where the Connecticut Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force of the United States Marshal Service (task force) located and arrested him on November 5, 2010. At the time of his arrest, the defendant was wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap with a ...


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