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State v. Hall

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 15, 2018


          Argued February 1, 2018

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crime of murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain and tried to the jury before D'Addabbo, J.; verdict of guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree; thereafter, the court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Jade N. Baldwin, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rita M. Shair, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and, on the brief, Brett Salafia, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Lavine, Prescott and Elgo, Js.


          ELGO, J.

         The defendant, Jeffrey W. Hall, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of manslaughter in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55 (a) (1).[1] On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly declined to provide the jury with an instruction on the duty to retreat. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         On the basis of the evidence adduced at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. At all relevant times, the defendant lived with Michelle Lewis and Karen Letourneau at a residence known as 19 Lincoln Street in Bristol. In the early hours of June 21, 2013, Letourneau, the defendant, and other individuals were celebrating Lewis' birthday at the residence. Among the attendees was Jerry Duncan, who had been invited by Letourneau. The attendees enjoyed birthday cake and then drinks together on a front porch. At some point, a disagreement arose between the defendant and Duncan, and the defendant indicated that he wanted Duncan to leave. In response, Letourneau told the defendant that ‘‘I pay rent [here] and he's my company and he's not leaving.'' The party then continued for approximately one hour without incident.

         Sometime after 3 a.m., the Bristol Police Department received an anonymous noise complaint regarding the party at the residence. Officer Daniel Colavolpe was on patrol that evening and responded to the complaint with Officer Al Myers. When they arrived at the residence, Colavolpe saw multiple people on the porch who were ‘‘conversing loudly, '' at which point the officers advised them to ‘‘go inside and call it a night.'' The individuals agreed and went inside the house.

         Nevertheless, the party later resumed on the porch. When Letourneau went inside to check on her minor son, she heard a ‘‘commotion in the front hallway.'' Letourneau opened the front door and found the defendant and Duncan ‘‘physically attacking each other.'' At trial, Letourneau described what happened next: ‘‘I froze, I panicked. I came back in the house and then about a minute later, I went back out and that's when I saw everything covered with blood. . . . There was blood flying everywhere.'' Letourneau retreated inside the house and then ‘‘went back out a third time'' and found the defendant seated on the porch. When she peered over the railing, Letourneau saw Duncan ‘‘laying on the bottom of the stairs face up and his legs were going up the stairs.''[2]

         While those events unfolded, the police received a second noise complaint. Colavolpe and Myers again responded to the residence, arriving at approximately 3:45 a.m. As he stood on the front porch, Colavolpe heard ‘‘a male voice fairly loudly say, ‘Yeah, call 911, there's a corpse at the bottom of the stairs, ' and then followed up a very short time later with, ‘I don't fucking care, tell him I stabbed him.' '' Colavolpe then opened the door and saw Duncan lying motionless at the bottom of the stairs with ‘‘a large amount of blood around his head . . . .''

         Colavolpe entered the residence with his gun drawn and ordered everyone inside to the ground. In response, the defendant, who was ‘‘covered in blood, '' informed Colavolpe that the other individuals ‘‘were fine'' and that ‘‘he was the one [who] stabbed [Duncan] but [that] it was in self-defense.'' Colavolpe then moved the defendant from the crime scene to the porch while awaiting assistance from additional officers. At that time, the defendant was ‘‘very calm'' and did not appear to be injured in any way. The defendant then stated to Colavolpe: ‘‘I just did what I was trained to do. [Duncan] punched me and I grabbed what I could and stabbed him. I stabbed him and broke off the knife. . . . I hope I killed him. I really hope I did. And if he wasn't such a dick, he wouldn't be dead.''

         The defendant made similar statements to Officers Tyler Meusel and Craig Duquette in the hours that followed. When Meusel responded to the scene, the defendant's demeanor was ‘‘[v]ery passive, almost nonchalant.'' As he sat in a police cruiser with Meusel, the defendant stated that he had acted in self-defense. The defendant asked if he had killed Duncan and then stated, ‘‘I hope I did.'' The defendant also asked Meusel what his sentence was likely to be for this crime, inquiring whether ‘‘it would be man[slaughter] second.'' As to how the altercation took place, the defendant informed Meusel that ‘‘[h]e came at me so I stabbed him in the throat.'' Duquette was involved in booking the defendant on June 21, 2013. When Duquette asked if he was injured, the defendant, pointing to his hand, said ‘‘maybe right here . . . from where I stuck the knife in him'' and then laughed. The defendant stated that Duncan ‘‘had come to fuck with ...

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