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State v. McKethan

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 7, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
DEQUAN MCKETHAN

          Argued January 22, 2018

         Procedural History

         Information, in the first case, charging the defendant with the crimes of possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, and criminal possession of a pistol, and with possession of less than one-half ounce of a cannabis-type substance and the infractions of improper use of a marker, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, operating an unregistered motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance, and information, in the second case, charging the defendant with the crime of murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New London, geographical area number twenty-one, where the court, Jongbloed, J., granted the state's motion for joinder; thereafter, the state filed a substitute information; subsequently, the matter was tried to the jury; verdicts and judgments of guilty of murder, carrying a pistol without a permit and possession of narcotics; thereafter, the state entered a nolle prosequi as to the remaining charges, and the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          S. Max Simmons, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Lawrence J. Tytla, supervisory assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was Michael L. Regan, state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Alvord, Keller and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          ALVORD, J.

         The defendant, Dequan McKethan, appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 (a), and possession of narcotics in violation of General Statutes § 21a-279 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly granted the state's motion for joinder of the two separate cases against him for trial. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On September 24, 2012, the defendant left the house that he shared with his girlfriend, Chelsea Vanderslice, on Summit Street in Norwich between 9:45 and 10 p.m. The defendant went back to his house around 10:45 or 11 p.m. but left again. The defendant gave his car keys to Duryll Barham and asked Barham to watch his car. Barham called the defendant around 2 or 3 a.m., and the defendant told him to return the car in front of the defendant's house, which Barham later did.

         The defendant knew the victim, Darius Bishop, because the victim had previously sold the defendant marijuana. On the night of September 24, 2012, the victim called the defendant's cell phone four times between 10:11 and 10:26 p.m. In that same time period, the defendant called the victim's cell phone twice. By 1 a.m. on September 25th, the defendant and the victim were at the same location. Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m., they ended up outside the Charles Long Sports Complexin Bozrah, where the defendant shot the victim in the head, killing him.

         Connecticut State Police responded to a 911 call around 7 a.m. and found the victim's body lying face down. He was barefoot, with his shoes lying next to his body and his driver's license in his left hand. A single .22 caliber shell casing was found on the ground underneath the victim's head. The brand of the shell casing was Super-X.

         Officer Frank Callender, a Norwich police officer, found the victim's car parked on Bills Avenue in Norwich the next day, on September 26, 2012. Bills Avenue intersects with Summit Street, where the defendant lived.

         That same day, Officer Avery Marsh, also with the Norwich Police Department, was patrolling the area of Summit Street. He observed the defendant's red Nissan Maxima, which did not have a front license plate displayed. Through a check with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Officer Marsh discovered that the rear license plate on the red Nissan Maxima was registered to a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. After learning this information, Officer Marsh conducted surveillance of the car from a distance and eventually observed the defendant get into the car and drive south on Summit Street. Officer Marsh lost sight of the vehicle soon thereafter.

         The next day, on September 27, 2012, Officer Marsh returned to the area of Summit Street and observed the defendant and Vanderslice occupying the red Nissan Maxima. Eventually, Vanderslice ...


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