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. Bryan

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

October 1, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
CARLTON BRYAN

          Argued April 16, 2019

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the jury before Bentivegna, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed; thereafter, the court, Bentivegna, J., deniedin part the defendant’s motions for augmentation and rectification of the record. Affirmed.

          Erica A. Barber, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, and Robert J. Scheinblum and Donna Mambrino, senior assistant state’s attorneys, for the appellee (state).

          Keller, Prescott and Moll, Js.

          OPINION

          MOLL, J.

         The defendant, Carlton Bryan, appeals from the judgment of conviction, [1] rendered after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-54a (a)[2] and 53a-8, [3] and conspiracy to commit murder in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 (a)[4] and 53a-54a (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court erroneously concluded that an unavailable declarant’s hearsay statements were admissible as dual inculpatory statements pursuant to § 8-6 (4) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence, and (2) the state, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), failed to disclose to him certain internal affairs records relating to Reginald Early, a police sergeant whom the state called as a witness at trial. 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. In April, 2013, the victim, Shamari Jenkins, was four months pregnant with the defendant’s child. At that time, the defendant had a minor child with another woman, Iesha Wimbush, with whom the defendant had an ‘‘off and on’’ relationship. On several occasions after learning of the victim’s pregnancy, the defendant encouraged the victim to have an abortion. After initially informing the defendant that she would have an abortion, the victim told the defendant that she ultimately had decided not to proceed with an abortion. The victim’s decision angered and upset the defendant because the victim’s pregnancy was a source of contention between the defendant and Wimbush.

         Having failed to convince the victim to have an abortion, the defendant plotted with Matthew Allen Hall-Davis, a close friend of his, to kill the victim and terminate the pregnancy. Sometime in March, 2013, the defendant asked Reginald Lewis, a former coworker of his, to clean and repair a firearm, a .44 magnum Ruger Super Black Hawk revolver (.44 Ruger). Lewis was unable to fix the .44 Ruger and returned it, along with certain gun components that the defendant had ordered for the repair, to the defendant. Hall-Davis, who was present when Lewis returned the .44 Ruger to the defendant, told Lewis that he would fix the .44 Ruger. At some time prior to the morning of April 29, 2013, the defendant and Hall-Davis repaired the .44 Ruger.

         On April 28, 2013, the defendant, the victim, and Hall-Davis attended a cookout at the home of the victim’s father in East Hartford. The defendant and Hall-Davis left the cookout together at about dusk. At approximately 11 p.m. that night, the defendant and Hall-Davis met with Everett Walker, a cousin of Hall-Davis’, near Walker’s apartment building located on Magnolia Street in Hartford. The defendant told Walker that he was having ‘‘problems’’ with the victim stemming from the victim’s refusal to have an abortion and that he wanted to kill the victim in the vicinity of Walker’s apartment building. The defendant asked Walker to provide assistance by acting as a lookout and by telling the police officers who would be dispatched to the crime scene that he had observed an unknown individual running away from the scene. Walker did not respond to the defendant’s request and returned to his apartment alone.

         Sometime between 12 and 12:30 a.m. on April 29, 2013, the victim left her father’s cookout and met with the defendant, whom she then drove in her car to Magnolia Street, where the defendant purportedly intended to meet with and collect money from a cousin of his. The victim parked her car along the curb of the street, and the defendant exited the car. At about that time, Hall-Davis had driven and parked the defendant’s car on an adjacent street. After the defendant had returned to and reentered the victim’s car, the victim began driving away from the curb. At that moment, Hall-Davis approached the car and, using the .44 Ruger, fired a single gunshot through the rear windshield of the car, striking the victim. The car then accelerated and crashed into the front stairs of a nearby home. The defendant proceeded to call 911 to report that the victim had been shot, without identifying the shooter.

         At approximately 1 a.m. on April 29, 2013, Officer Jay Szepanski of the Hartford Police Department was dispatched to the area of Magnolia Street and Mather Street in Hartford to investigate a reported shooting. When he arrived at the scene, Szepanski found the defendant in the street yelling and waving him down. Szepanski found the victim slumped between the front seats of her car and unresponsive. The defendant told Szepanski that the victim had given him a ride to meet with his cousin and that, after he had returned to the car, an unidentified individual fired a gunshot through the rear windshield of the car that struck the victim.[5]Shortly thereafter, medical personnel arrived and transported the victim to Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center (hospital) in Hartford, where she was pronounced dead as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.

         Later in the morning on April 29, 2013, Szepanski transported the defendant to the Hartford Police Department and thereafter to the hospital. Early, who was at the time a detective in the Hartford Police Department’s major crimes division but later was promoted to sergeant, briefly spoke with the defendant at the police station and later at the hospital. With respect to the victim’s murder, the defendant told Early that an unknown individual had attempted to rob the defendant and the victim while they were sitting in the victim’s car, the victim tried to drive away to escape the attempted robbery, and, as the victim was driving away, the individual fired into the car a gunshot that struck the victim. The defendant did not provide a written statement at that time.

         Later that same day, after Early had spoken with the defendant at the hospital, the defendant met with Hall-Davis and drove him to the Hartford Police Department. There, Hall-Davis had a conversation with Early about the victim’s murder; however, he declined to provide a written statement at that time.[6] Following Hall-Davis’ conversation with Early, the defendant picked up Hall-Davis from the police station.

         On May 1, 2013, the defendant met with Early at the Hartford Police Department and submitted a signed, sworn statement regarding the victim’s murder. In that statement, the defendant averred that an individual nicknamed ‘‘Low, ’’ whose real name was Kevan Simmons, attempted to rob the defendant and the victim while they were sitting in the victim’s car, and that Simmons shot the victim as she tried to drive away. The defendant further averred that he did not immediately identify Simmons as the shooter to the police because the defendant wanted to get revenge on Simmons himself, but, after giving it more thought, the defendant decided to inform the police that Simmons had shot the victim. Following an ensuing investigation, Early ruled out Simmons as a suspect in the victim’s murder.

         On the day of the victim’s funeral, which was held sometime before May 11, 2013, Hall-Davis met with Kingsley Minto, a mutual friend of his and the defendant’s, at Minto’s home in Vernon. Hall-Davis confessed to Minto that he had killed the victim at the defendant’s behest in order to terminate the victim’s pregnancy. Hall-Davis told Minto that he initially was reluctant to comply with the defendant’s request to kill the victim; however, after the defendant repeatedly had pleaded with him, Hall-Davis agreed to commit the crime because he felt obligated to assist the defendant on account that, during the course of their friendship, the defendant had provided him with financial support, written letters to him while he had been incarcerated, and permitted him to stay at the defendant’s home. Hall-Davis then asked Minto for money so that he could flee the area. Minto replied that he had no money to give to Hall-Davis.

         On May 11, 2013, Minto and Hall-Davis robbed a jewelry store in Manchester (Manchester robbery). Hall-Davis brandished the .44 Ruger in the course of the Manchester robbery, which was recorded on surveillance video. As Hall-Davis and Minto were driving away from the jewelry store, Hall-Davis tossed out of the car window a shell casing, which Hall-Davis told Minto was from the bullet that he had fired at the victim. Later that day, Hall-Davis and Minto drove to a parkin Vernon, where Hall-Davis hid the .44 Ruger under some leaves and brush.

         At some point after the Manchester robbery, the defendant and Hall-Davis met with one another in Hartford. The defendant asked Hall-Davis where the .44 Ruger was, and Hall-Davis replied that he had gotten rid of it. The defendant, using his cell phone, then showed Hall-Davis video footage of the Manchester robbery that he had found on the Internet, which depicted Hall-Davis holding the .44 Ruger during the Manchester robbery. Evidently having had the belief that Hall-Davis had disposed of the .44 Ruger immediately after the victim’s murder, the defendant became upset that Hall-Davis had lied to him about the disposal of the .44 Ruger, after which Hall-Davis left.

         In the middle of May, 2013, the defendant traveled to Florida to stay with his father. While he was in Florida, the defendant called Early on numerous occasions to convey that Hall-Davis and Minto had committed the Manchester robbery. Early shared that information with the Manchester Police Department, and, largely on the basis of that information, the Manchester Police Department secured arrest warrants for Hall-Davis and Minto in connection with the Manchester robbery. Hall-Davis was arrested on May 23, 2013, and Minto turned himself in to the police on May 25, 2013. While in police custody, Minto admitted to his involvement in the Manchester robbery and assisted the police in locating and retrieving the .44 Ruger that Hall-Davis had hidden in the park in Vernon.

         After turning himself in to the police, Minto also submitted a signed, sworn statement regarding the victim’s murder. On the basis of information that he obtained during the course of his investigation from, inter alia, Minto, Hall-Davis, and Lewis, Early secured arrest warrants for Hall-Davis and the defendant in relation to the victim’s murder. On June 6, 2013, Early arrested the defendant, who had returned from Florida, at Wim-bush’s home in Windsor.[7] After waiving his Miranda rights, [8] the defendant agreed to be interviewed by Early, along with another detective, and submitted a signed, sworn statement. In that statement, the defendant averred that, while he was sitting with the victim in her car on Magnolia Street on April 29, 2013, Hall-Davis entered the car and sat in the backseat behind the victim. Early questioned the defendant as to how Hall-Davis could have entered the car, which had two doors only, without the defendant first exiting the car, and Early noted that the bullet that struck the victim had been shot through the rear windshield of the car and would have hit Hall-Davis had he been seated in the backseat of the car. The defendant terminated the interview at that juncture.

         By way of a long form information dated May 1, 2015, the defendant was charged with murder in violation of §§ 53a-54a (a) and 53a-8, and conspiracy to commit murder in violation of §§ 53a-48 (a) and 53a-54a (a). On May 28, 2015, following a jury trial, the jury found the defendant guilty on both counts, and the trial court, Bentivegna, J., accepted the jury’s verdict. On July 30, 2015, the court sentenced the defendant to sixty years of incarceration on the charge of murder and twenty years of incarceration on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, with the sentences to run consecutively, for a total effective sentence of eighty years of incarceration.[9] This appeal followed. Additional facts and procedural history will be set forth as necessary.

         I

         The defendant first claims that the court erroneously concluded that certain hearsay statements made by Hall-Davis to Minto concerning the victim’s murder were admissible as dual inculpatory statements pursuant to § 8-6 (4) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence. Specifically, the defendant asserts that (1) portions of Hall-Davis’ statements were not against Hall-Davis’ penal interest but, instead, shifted the blame for the victim’s murder to the defendant, and (2) Hall-Davis’ statements were not sufficiently trustworthy. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the statements.

         The following additional facts and procedural history are relevant to our disposition of the defendant’s claim. During its case-in-chief on the second day of evidence, the state called Hall-Davis as a witness. As the clerk attempted to swear him in, Hall-Davis invoked his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination and declined to testify. The court excused Hall-Davis after determining that he had properly invoked his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

         On the third day of evidence, the state called Minto as a witness. Before Minto was sworn in, the court noted that there was an evidentiary issue to resolve relating to Minto’s testimony and asked the state to make an offer of proof. Outside of the jury’s presence, the state proffered that, pursuant to the statement against penal interest exception to the hearsay rule codified in § 8-6 (4) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence, Minto would testify, inter alia, as follows: Hall-Davis told Minto on the day of the victim’s funeral that Hall-Davis killed the victim after the defendant had ‘‘kept pressuring’’ Hall-Davis to do so and that Hall-Davis felt that ‘‘he needed’’ to comply with the defendant’s request because of their close friendship; Hall-Davis confessed to Minto that he had shot the victim because he trusted Minto not to share that information with anyone; Hall-Davis and Minto had known each other for approximately ten years at the time of the victim’s murder; Minto was familiar with Hall-Davis’ life and upbringing; Hall-Davis’ mother and Minto’s wife were friends; Hall-Davis at times had lived with Minto; and Hall-Davis and Minto committed the Manchester robbery together. The defendant objected to the proffered testimony, arguing that Hall-Davis’ statements to Minto were self-serving, Minto and Hall-Davis did not have a close relationship, and Hall-Davis’ statements were not recorded.

         Following argument, the court overruled the defendant’s objection and determined that Hall-Davis’ hearsay statements to Minto were admissible as dual inculpatory statements pursuant to § 8-6 (4) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence. In reaching its decision, the court determined: (1) Hall-Davis was unavailable to testify because he had invoked his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination; (2) Hall-Davis’ statements were against his penal interest; and (3) the statements were sufficiently trustworthy.

         Following the court’s ruling, the state elicited testimony from Minto. Minto testified that, on the day of the victim’s funeral, Hall-Davis met with Minto at Minto’s home in Vernon. Minto then testified in relevant part as follows:

‘‘Q. And what did [Hall-Davis] tell you?
‘‘A. He asked me: Who [do] you think kill[ed] [the victim]?
‘‘Q. And what was your response?
‘‘A. I said I think [the defendant] did it.
‘‘Q. And what did [Hall-Davis] tell you?
‘‘A. He said, no, I did it.
‘‘Q. And what was your reaction when [Hall-Davis] told [you] that he did it?
‘‘A. I was shocked and I was upset and I was crying.
‘‘Q. And did you say something specifically to him when he told you that?
‘‘A. Yes. I said he was stupid, like, why would you even kill [the victim] if you didn’t get her pregnant?
‘‘Q. And what was [Hall-Davis’] response to you when you asked him that question?
‘‘A. He said he did it for [the defendant].
‘‘Q. And when he said he did it for [the defendant], did he tell you that he did this-that ...

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.