January 10, 2019
charging the defendant with violation of probation, brought
to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield,
geographical area number two, where the court, Holden,
J., denied the defendant's motion for disclosure of
the identity of a confidential informant; thereafter, the
matter was tried to the court; judgment finding the defendant
in violation of probation, from which the defendant appealed
to this court.
B. Bachman, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
R. Aiello, special deputy assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state's
attorney, and Nicholas J. Bove, Jr., senior assistant
state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Flynn, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
defendant, Timolyn Dunbar, appeals from the judgment of the
trial court finding her in violation of her probation
pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-32. On appeal, the
defendant claims that (1) the court improperly found a
violation of probation on the basis of insufficient evidence,
(2) her right to due process was violated by the
identification procedures used in this case and (3) her right
to due process was violated when the court denied her the
right to confront an adverse witness. We affirm the judgment
of the trial court.
record reveals the following facts and procedural history. On
December 2, 2011, the defendant was sentenced to fifteen
years of incarceration, execution suspended after three
years, and three years of probation following her guilty plea
and conviction for selling narcotics in violation of General
Statutes § 21a-277 (a) and failure to appear in the
first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-172.
The defendant was released from the custody of the
Commissioner of Correction on February 14, 2014, and signed
her conditions of probation five days later. These conditions
included the standard requirement that the defendant not
violate any criminal law of the United States or Connecticut.
2015, Mark Heinmiller, a detective with the West-port Police
Department, was a member of the Southwest Narcotics Task
Force (task force). On December 10, 2015, Heinmiller spoke
with a confidential informant and set up a controlled
purchase of crack cocaine. Heinmiller personally had used
this confidential informant approximately thirty times in the
past and described this individual as ‘‘proven
and very reliable.''
that day, Heinmiller and other members of the task force
observed the defendant approach the confidential informant in
the area of Park Avenue and Olive Street in Bridgeport. The
defendant provided the confidential informant with crack
cocaine in exchange for money. The defendant then left the
area, coming within five feet of Heinmiller as he conducted
his surveillance. The confidential informant later provided
Heinmiller with a written statement about the drug sale.
Heinmiller also noted that the confidential informant had
told him that the seller of the crack cocaine identified
herself as ‘‘Timberlyn'' or
later date, one of the officers who had participated in the
surveillance of this controlled drug purchase attended a
meeting of the task force. At this meeting, he informed the
other members that the person who had sold illegal drugs to
the confidential informant went by the name of
‘‘Timberland.'' Other officers suggested
that this person could have been the defendant. Following the
meeting, Heinmiller entered the defendant's name into a
‘‘probation database'' and, using a
photograph contained therein, identified her as the seller of
the crack cocaine to the confidential informant.
prepared an arrest warrant for the defendant and executed it
in March, 2016. The defendant subsequently spoke with
Heinmiller. She told him that she could not recall the events
of December 10, 2015, and that she was ‘‘using
drugs'' at that time.
state subsequently charged the defendant with violating her
probation pursuant to § 53a-32. The court, Holden,
J., found that the defendant had violated the conditions
of her probation by violating the criminal laws of this state
or the United States. It further ordered that the defendant
continue on probation and that the original sentence remain
in effect. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set
forth as necessary.
defendant first claims that the court improperly found a
violation of probation on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Specifically, she argues that she was identified as the
seller of the crack cocaine ‘‘entirely on
unreliable hearsay from an unknown confidential informant
related in court by a law enforcement
officer.'' The state counters that the court properly
relied on Heinmiller's testimony regarding his
observations of the drug sale and his identification of the
defendant as the seller of the crack cocaine to support its
conclusion that she had violated her probation. We agree with
initial matter, we set forth the relevant legal principles
and our standard of review. ‘‘[T]he purpose of a
probation revocation hearing is to determine whether a
defendant's conduct constituted an act sufficient to
support a revocation of probation . . . rather than whether
the defendant had, beyond a reasonable doubt, violated a
criminal law. The proof of the conduct at the hearing need
not be sufficient to sustain a violation of a criminal law. .
. . Thus, a probation violation need be proven only by a
preponderance of the evidence. ...