September 23, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Vitale,
M. G. Haswell, senior assistant public defender, with whom,
on the brief, was Lauren Weisfeld, chief of legal services,
for the appellant (defendant).
L. Walker, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were Michael Dearington, former state's
attorney, and Stacey Haupt Miranda, senior assistant
state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Lavine, Sheldon and Mullins, Js.
defendant, Maurice Beverley, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of one count of
felony murder in violation of General Statutes §
53a-54c; one count of robbery in the first degree in
violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2); and one
count of criminal possession of a firearm in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-217 (a). On appeal, the defendant
claims that the trial court abused its discretion in (1)
failing to conduct an adequate investigation into alleged
juror bias, and (2) limiting the defendant's
cross-examination of the state's key witness. We affirm
the judgment of the trial court.
jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On
March 31, 2010, the defendant told Eric Brooks, a
codefendant, that he wanted to rob ‘‘somebody
with money.'' On the night of April 2, 2010, the
defendant and Eric Brooks met with Mary Pearson, their
cousin, on the front porch of her aunt's home. Pearson
was staying with her aunt, Mary Brooks, on the third floor of
a three-story house, but another family lived on the first
floor. The porch, which was in front of the first floor, was
a small ‘‘community porch'' where people
from around the neighborhood gathered. On that night, there
were ‘‘other'' people on the porch with the
defendant, Eric Brooks, and Pearson. When Pearson went to
meet the defendant, he was already on the porch and had the
victim, Kenneth Bagley, who was a known drug dealer, on his
cell phone. In front of the ‘‘other''
people, the defendant asked Pearson if she would talk to
Bagley to buy drugs for him. An hour later, Bagley arrived in
his car and parked a couple of houses down from her
aunt's house, in full view of the people on the porch. As
Pearson and Bagley began to engage in a drug transaction in
Bagley's car, the defendant opened the front driver's
door, grabbed Bagley by the neck, and put a gun to his head.
As a struggle ensued, the defendant shot Bagley in the upper
body, which later caused his death. After the defendant shot
Bagley, the defendant and Eric Brooks took Bagley's drugs
defendant was charged with felony murder, robbery in the
first degree, and criminal possession of a firearm. At trial,
Pearson testified that she was unfamiliar with the family
that lived on the first floor and with the
‘‘other'' people on the front porch the
night of the murder. During an extensive cross-examination
about the tenants who lived on the first floor and about the
‘‘other'' people, defense counsel asked
whether Pearson knew of ‘‘any disputes
between the people on the first floor and [her]
aunt.'' The state objected to the question
on the ground of relevancy. After arguments before the court,
the court sustained the objection ‘‘based on
November 20, 2013, the jury found the defendant guilty on all
counts. The defendant was sentenced to a total effective
sentence of seventy-five years imprisonment. This appeal
followed. Additional facts will be set forth as needed.
the defendant claims that the trial court abused its
discretion in failing to conduct an adequate investigation
into alleged juror bias, which violated his right to an
impartial jury guaranteed by the sixth and fourteenth
amendments to the United States constitution. The defendant
asserts that his claim is preserved, but if this court
determines that it is not preserved, it is nevertheless
reviewable either pursuant to State v.
Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989),
or under the plain error doctrine. The state argues that the
defendant's claim is not reviewable because he waived his
right to raise the claim on appeal. We agree with the state.
following additional facts are relevant to this claim. The
jury began its deliberations on November 18, 2013. On
November 20, 2013, the trial court was notified that juror
R.A.'s wife received a phone call the night before and
that when R.A. took the phone from her, the caller asked R.A.
about the case. R.A. reported the call to the court, telling
the court that the caller told him that
‘‘they'' understood that R.A. was a juror
on this case and that they needed information regarding the
case. R.A. told the caller that he was prohibited from
talking about the case, and he hung up the
phone.R.A. also told the court that he asked some
of the other jurors earlier that morning whether any of them
had received phone calls about the case. The court asked R.A.
whether the phone call would prevent him from being a fair
and impartial juror, and R.A. responded that it would not
affect him. The court then gave both the state and the
defense the opportunity to question R.A., but defense counsel
declined to ask R.A. any questions. Defense counsel did not
ask the court to dismiss R.A. as a juror, and the court did
not dismiss R.A.
questioning R.A., the trial court, sua sponte, proposed that
it conduct an individualized voir dire of the remaining
eleven jurors. Defense counsel did not object to the
procedure or suggest that any other action be taken. During
the voir dire, one juror stated that she had heard that some
‘‘people were nervous about [the call].''
All of the jurors, however, told the court that the phone
call did not affect their ability to be fair and impartial.
At the end of each voir dire, the trial court gave both the
state and the defense the opportunity to question the juror.
Defense counsel declined to question any of the jurors.
the court interviewed the last juror, it gave the state and
the defense the opportunity to be heard on the
record. Defense counsel stated that he was
‘‘concerned'' that some of the jurors
were nervous, but he acknowledged that he was
‘‘not concerned'' about any jury bias.
Defense counsel then stated, ‘‘I don't know
if there's any way that a very quick investigation could
be done and that's just the only thought I had.''
When asked by the trial court, however, who should conduct
the investigation, defense counsel admitted that he did not
know. Defense counsel then stated that the jury should
proceed with its deliberations.
court concluded that it was satisfied with the jurors'
answers that each of them could be fair and impartial and
that there was no indication that anything that had happened
had ‘‘endanger[ed] the fairness of the
proceedings . . . .'' The court also stated that it
had ‘‘inquired appropriately under the
law'' and that it did not think that
‘‘there's any further action required of the