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State v. Alexis

Appellate Court of Connecticut

November 5, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Garyl ALEXIS

         Argued January 9, 2019

         Appeal from Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield, Kahn, J.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          Robert L. O’Brien, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, was William A. Adsit, North Haven, for the appellant (defendant).

         Jennifer F. Miller, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state’s attorney, and Joseph J. Harry, senior assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Keller, Moll and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

         MOLL, J.

         [194 Conn.App. 163] The defendant, Garyl Alexis, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (4)[1] and threatening in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-62 (a) (1).[2] On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence an unduly prejudicial photograph of guns that had minimal, if any, probative [194 Conn.App. 164] value, and (2) pursuant to Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610, 96 S.Ct. 2240, 49 L.Ed.2d 91 (1976), the state violated his due process right to a fair trial by eliciting testimony and making a remark during closing arguments about the defendant’s silence following his arrest and the advisement of his constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). We conclude that any error relating to the court’s admission of the

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photograph was harmless and that any Doyle violation was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

          The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In May, 2015, Jorge Perez and his girlfriend, Paige Whitley, lived with Whitley’s parents in a first floor apartment of a multifamily home in Stratford (Whitley residence). The defendant lived several blocks away in Stratford. On May 21, 2015, Perez and Whitley were present at the Whitley residence. At 9:24 a.m., Perez sent a text message to the defendant and invited him to come over to purchase marijuana. The defendant went to the Whitley residence, entered through the back door, and joined Perez and Whitley in Whitley’s bedroom. The defendant then began chatting with Perez and Whitley. During their conversation, Perez removed a bag of marijuana from the bedroom closet and handed it to the defendant to allow the defendant to inspect its contents. Shortly thereafter, the defendant displayed a black, semiautomatic pistol and ordered Perez and Whitley to get down on the floor, repeating the order multiple times. Perez and Whitley remained motionless, and the defendant grabbed the bag of marijuana, which had been placed on a table, and ran out of the apartment through the back door. At some point prior to fleeing the Whitley residence, the defendant dropped his wallet in Whitley’s bedroom. At 10:21 a.m., after the defendant had left, Perez sent a text message to the defendant, [194 Conn.App. 165] stating: "Dude cmon. For what? I thought we were chill." At 10:34 a.m., the defendant sent a text message to Perez in reply, stating: "Everybody is food and I want my wallet back boy unless you like shells I’m broke starving hate it had to be you I WANT MY WALLET BACK OR IMMA SEE U cuz." Thereafter, Perez and Whitley sought advice from Whitley’s father, who, at the time, was outside in front of the apartment. After speaking with Whitley’s father, Perez called the police to report the incident.

          Shortly thereafter, Officer Brian McCarthy and other police officers of the Stratford Police Department arrived at the Whitley residence, and Perez and Whitley provided written statements regarding what had occurred. The police began searching for the defendant, and, approximately twenty minutes after receiving the call from Perez, they were able to locate and detain the defendant just a few blocks away from the Whitley residence. Meanwhile, the police drove along the main routes between the Whitley residence and the defendant’s residence and conducted a general search of the area where the defendant was located, but they were not able to locate the gun or the bag of marijuana. The police were able to recover the defendant’s wallet and his cell phone, and Officer Paul Fressola performed two forensic examinations of the cell phone. During the second forensic examination, Officer Fressola discovered, among other things, a deleted photograph in which five firearms were displayed next to one another (photograph).

         On June 8, 2015, by long form information, the state charged the defendant with one count of robbery in the first degree in violation of § 53a-134 (a) (4) and one count of threatening in the second degree in violation of § 53a-62 (a) (1). On September 30, 2015, the state filed a substitute long form information containing the same charges. On January 30, 2017, following a jury [194 Conn.App. 166] trial held on January 26, 27 and 30, 2017, the defendant was found guilty as to both counts. On March 13, 2017, the court imposed a total effective sentence of eight years of incarceration, execution suspended after three years, followed by five years of probation. This appeal followed. Additional

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facts and procedural history will be provided as ...


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