April 11, 2019.
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charging the defendant with the crimes of felony murder,
robbery in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit robbery
in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the
judicial district of Hartford, geographical area number
fourteen, and tried to the jury before Baldini, J.; verdict
and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed.
S. Nagy, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
N. Feldman, special deputy assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's
attorney, and David L. Zagaja, senior assistant state's
attorney, for the appellee (state).
Lavine, Elgo and Pellegrino, Js. PELLEGRINO, J. In this
opinion the other judges concurred.
Conn.App. 70] PELLEGRINO, J.
defendant, Rashad Moon, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of felony murder in
violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, robbery in the first
degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2),
and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree in
violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 and 53a-134 (a) (2).
On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court
improperly (1) instructed the jury on accomplice liability,
(2) failed to poll the jurors on the defendant's
affirmative defense, (3) admitted into evidence two spent
shell casings that were unconnected to the crime, and (4)
[192 Conn.App. 71] instructed the jury on conspiracy to
commit robbery in the first degree without instructing it on
the intent required for robbery in the first degree. We
disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial
basis of the evidence adduced at trial, the jury reasonably
could have found the following facts. In May, 2013, the
victim, Felix DeJesus, and his fiancee posted two T-Mobile
Springboard tablets for sale on Craigslist. The Craigslist
posting stated that the tablets were being sold for $300 each
or $500 for both of them and included the victim's phone
number. On May 8, 2013, at approximately 7 p.m., a
prospective buyer of the tablets called the victim. The
prospective buyer said that he did not have a car and asked
the victim to meet him in Hartford so that he could purchase
the tablets. The victim agreed to travel to Hartford and,
shortly after 7 p.m., the victim left his home in Cromwell
with the tablets.
approximately 7:45 p.m., a resident of the neighborhood where
the crime occurred, Gloria Therrien, observed the victim park
his car in front of 16 Allendale Road. From inside her home,
Therrien saw two men approach the car and stand at its
driver's side window. One of the men spoke to the victim
through the front driver's side window while the other
man stood next to him. Therrien heard a gunshot and saw the
two men run away from the car, using a cut through that
connected Allendale Road to Catherine Street. Therrien then
went outside and walked toward the victim's car. She
observed that the car windows were open and that the victim
was in the driver's seat of the car " jerking . . .
and gurgling." Therrien asked some children who were
nearby to call 911 and report that someone had been shot.
police arrived at the scene at approximately 8 p.m. When
Jeffrey Moody, an officer with the Hartford [192 Conn.App.
72] Police Department (department), arrived, he saw the
victim's car and noticed that its engine was running and
that the victim was inside. Moody approached the car and
found the victim unresponsive. Thereafter, emergency services
took the victim to Hartford Hospital, where he died of a
single gunshot wound to the head at approximately 3:46 a.m.
Reeder, a detective with the department, arrived at the scene
at approximately 8:30 p.m., after the victim had been taken
to Hartford Hospital. Reeder searched the interior of the
victim's car and found a TMobile Springboard Tablet and a
white Samsung cell phone. The police took possession of both
9, 2013, the police extracted data from the cell phone, which
they determined had belonged to the victim. The data
extracted from the cell phone included a series of text
messages and phone calls between the victim and a cell phone
number that belonged to Marvin Mathis, an individual who
resided near the scene of the crime. Around the time of the
murder, there were text messages between Mathis and the
victim in which Mathis instructed
the victim to meet him at 16 Allendale Road.
same day, Reeder went to speak with Mathis at his home on
Allendale Road. Mathis denied having any knowledge of the
shooting and stated that he was asleep at home when the crime
occurred. Mathis also stated that he was with the defendant
from approximately 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the night of the
shooting and that while they were together, the defendant
borrowed his phone.
allowed Reeder to view his cell phone and the text messages
on the device. The text messages on Mathis' cell phone
matched the text messages that the police had extracted from
the victim's cell phone. Mathis, however, denied sending
the messages and stated that the defendant must have sent
them. Reeder [192 Conn.App. 73] also observed that the call
log on Mathis' cell phone revealed that, at approximately
the time of the shooting, there were calls between Mathis and
the defendant. On May 8, 2013, there were calls between the
defendant and Mathis at 6:02, 7:51, 7:52 and 9:53 p.m.
12, 2013, Reeder spoke with the defendant and the
defendant's girlfriend, Brittany Hegwood. Hegwood
informed the police that on the night of the shooting, she
witnessed Mathis and the defendant walk " down Catherine
Street toward Hillside [Avenue]" together and that when
the defendant returned approximately five minutes later he
stated " [Mathis] just shot somebody."
defendant also provided the police with a statement in which
he admitted that he was with Mathis on the night of the
shooting and that he went with Mathis to meet the victim. The
defendant stated that Mathis told the defendant that he was
going to buy " some stuff" from the victim. The
defendant further stated that he stood approximately thirty
feet away from the victim's car while Mathis spoke with
the victim through the driver's side window. The
defendant stated that he looked away from Mathis and heard a
gunshot, at which point he and Mathis ran away from the car
to the defendant's house on Catherine Street.
part of their investigation, the police obtained a search
warrant for the defendant's cell phone records. The
defendant's cell phone records revealed calls between the
defendant and a phone number belonging to an individual by
the name of Jahvon Thompson on May 10 and 14, 2013.
23, 2014, approximately one year after the shooting,
Thompson, who was under arrest at the time, spoke with
Reeder. Thompson informed Reeder that he and the defendant
initially had planned to rob the victim because they "
were broke." Thompson further [192 Conn.App. 74] stated
that " a day or two" before the crime he, the
defendant, and Mathis were together and that the defendant
was texting the victim on Mathis' phone. Thompson stated
that ultimately he did not participate in the robbery because
" something came up."
Additionally, in May of 2014, an individual by the name of
Tyrell Hightower left three messages on a police tip line, in
which he indicated that he had information about a homicide
that had occurred on Allendale Road one year earlier. On June
2, 2014, Reeder met with Hightower at Hartford Correctional
Center, where Hightower was incarcerated. During the meeting,
Hightower informed Reeder that the defendant had confessed to
him that he and Mathis were involved in the murder of the
victim. Hightower further stated that the defendant had
informed him that it was a " robbery that went bad"
and that Mathis had shot the victim.
late June of 2014, the police arrested the defendant. After a
jury trial, the defendant
was convicted of felony murder, robbery in the first degree,
and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. The
court sentenced the defendant to a total effective sentence
of forty-nine years of incarceration. This appeal followed.
Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as
defendant first claims that " [t]he trial court
committed harmful error when, for the first time during
deliberations, [in response to a question from the jury] it
instructed the jurors that [the] defendant could be convicted
of robbery even if another person was the one to use force .
. . ." The defendant argues that the court's
supplemental instruction suggested a verdict in favor of the
state, deprived him of the opportunity to defend against this
theory of liability and violated his right to have the jurors
properly instructed on the law. We disagree.
Conn.App. 75] We begin with the applicable standard of review
and the legal principles relevant to this claim. "
[I]ndividual jury instructions should not be judged in
artificial isolation . . . but must be viewed in the context
of the overall charge. . . . The pertinent test is whether
the charge, read in its entirety, fairly presents the case to
the jury in such a way that injustice is not done to either
party under the established rules of law. . . . Thus, [t]he
whole charge must be considered from the standpoint of its
effect on the [jurors] in guiding them to the proper verdict
. . . and not critically dissected in a microscopic search
for possible error. . . . Accordingly, [i]n reviewing a
constitutional challenge to the trial court's
instruction, we must consider the jury charge as a whole to
determine whether it is reasonably possible that the
instruction misled the jury. . . . In other words, we must
consider whether the instructions [in totality] are
sufficiently correct in law, adapted to the issues and ample
for the guidance of the jury. . . . A challenge to the
validity of jury instructions presents a question of law over
which [we have] plenary review." (Internal ...