Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Moon

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 27, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
RASHAD MOON

          Argued April 11, 2019

         Procedural History

         Information 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. Affirmed.

          Pamela S. Nagy, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Laurie 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.

          OPINION

          PELLEGRINO, J.

         The 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) 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 court.

         On the 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.

         At 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.

         The police arrived at the scene at approximately 8 p.m. When Jeffrey Moody, an officer with the Hartford 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.

         Chris 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 T-Mobile Springboard Tablet and a white Samsung cell phone. The police took possession of both items.

         On May 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 Allen-dale Road.

         That 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.

         Mathis 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 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.

         On May 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.''

         The 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.

         As 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.

         On May 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 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, High-tower 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.

         In 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 necessary.

         I

         The 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.

         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 quotation marks omitted.) State v. Berrios, 187 Conn.App. 661, 705-706, 203 A.3d 571, cert. denied, 331 Conn. 917, 204 A.3d 1159 (2019). This standard of review also applies to supplemental instructions. State v. Miller, 36 Conn.App. 506, 515, 651 A.2d 1318, cert. denied, 232 Conn. 912, 654 A.2d 357 (1995).

         Practice Book § 42-27 provides: ‘‘If the jury, after retiring for deliberations, requests additional instructions, the judicial authority, after providing notice to the parties and an opportunity for suggestions by counsel, shall recall the jury to the courtroom and give additional instructions necessary to respond properly to the request or to direct the jury's attention to a portion of the original instructions.''

         The following additional facts and procedural history are relevant to this claim. Count two of the information charging the defendant alleged: ‘‘[O]n or about May 8, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. on Allendale Road in Hartford . . . while in the course of the commission of a robbery and in immediate flight therefrom, [the defendant] or another participant in the crime was armed with a deadly weapon.''

         During closing argument, the state argued that the defendant was one of the two participants in the robbery and that it was legally irrelevant whether he or Mathis shot the victim. The prosecutor stated: ‘‘The one issue you have to analyze . . . is was [the defendant] a participant in the robbery . . . .''

         After closing arguments, the court instructed the jury on the law relevant to the case, including the charge of robbery in the first degree.[1] The court began its instruction on robbery in the first degree by providing: ‘‘The defendant is charged in count two with robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2). The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: A person is guilty of robbery in the first degree when in the course of the commission of the crime of robbery, or immediate flight therefrom, he, or another participant in the crime, is armed with a deadly weapon.''

         The court stated the following with regard to the elements of robbery: ‘‘[T]he following are elements of robbery: (a) that the defendant was committing a larceny; (b) that the larceny was accomplished by the use, or threatened immediate use, of physical force upon another person; (c) for the purpose of preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property, or to the retention thereof immediately after the taking, or compelling the owner of such property or another person to deliver up the property.''[2]

         Under the heading ‘‘(b) Use or Threat of Use of Physical Force, '' the court provided: ‘‘The second element of robbery is that the larceny was accomplished by the use or threatened use of physical force.''[3]

         Under the heading ‘‘conclusion, '' the court provided: ‘‘In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of robbery in the first degree: (1) the defendant was committing a larceny, and (2) that he used physical force or threatened the use of physical force for the purpose of preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of property or to the retention of property immediately after the taking or compelling the owner of the property or another person to deliver up the property or to engage in other conduct that aids in the commission of larceny; and (3) that in the course of the commission of the robbery or immediate flight from the crime, the defendant or another participant in the crime was armed with a deadly weapon.''[4] (Emphasis added.)

         The court provided the jurors with a paper copy of the jury instructions for their use during deliberations. During deliberations, the jury sent the court the following note: ‘‘Does ‘the use or threat of use of physical force' element of robbery in the first degree require a finding that the defendant personally used or threatened the use of force or is it sufficient as to the ‘use or threat of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.