September 11, 2019
Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Jongbloed,
Christopher Y. Duby, North Haven, assigned counsel, with whom
was Robert L. OBrien, assigned counsel, for the appellant
L. Walker, assistant states attorney, with whom, on the
brief, were Michael L. Regan, New London, states attorney,
and Stephen M. Carney, senior assistant states attorney, for
the appellee (state).
Bright and Bear, Js.
Conn.App. 448] The defendant, Lashawn R. Cecil, appeals from
the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of
murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a (a) and the
judgment of conviction, rendered following a trial to the
court, of criminal possession of a firearm in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-217. On appeal, the defendant claims
that the trial court erroneously (1) admitted video recorded
statements into evidence under State v. Whelan, 200
Conn. 743, 513 A.2d 86, cert. denied, 479 U.S. 994, 107 S.Ct.
597, 93 L.Ed.2d 598 (1986), and, simultaneously, admitted
those same statements as impeachment evidence without
instructing the jury how to evaluate that evidence, and (2)
admitted into evidence a handgun magazine that was
irrelevant, highly prejudicial, and misleading. We affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
Conn.App. 449] From the evidence adduced at trial, the jury
reasonably could have found the following facts. At the time
of the events underlying this appeal, the victim, Jaclyn
Wirth, resided at the Mohegan Apartments located in Norwich.
On the evening of December 13, 2011, the defendant was at the
Mai Thai bar in Norwich with William Collelo and Harold
Butler. Also present
at the bar was an individual named Ezekial "Junie"
Boyce. Boyce owed Butler a debt of approximately $160 for a
prior sale of narcotics. The defendant, Collelo, and Butler
left the bar at approximately 1 a.m. on December 14, 2011.
The three men left in Collelos rental car, a black Chrysler
300 with Florida license plates.
leaving the bar, Collelo drove the three men to the Mohegan
Apartments because Collelo had informed Butler that Boyce
often spent time at the apartments, and Butler wanted to
collect the money owed to him by Boyce. Collelo parked his
vehicle outside the Mohegan Apartments, and Butler told the
defendant to go see Boyce to collect the money that he owed
Butler. The defendant exited the vehicle and approached the
approximately 1:30 a.m., the defendant entered the building
of the apartment complex in which the victim resided. Seconds
after the defendant entered the building, a neighbor, Arthur
Murray, heard a gunshot, a woman scream, and then four or
five more gunshots.
the victim placed a 911 call, reporting that she had been
shot. Norwich police received a call from dispatch at
approximately 1:40 a.m. and responded to the scene. En route
to the scene, responding Police Officer Mark Dean observed a
dark colored Chrysler 300 with Florida license plates parked
in a driveway on Boswell Avenue. At the scene, officers found
the victim bleeding while lying on the floor of the main
hallway of her apartment. The victim told a responding [194
Conn.App. 450] officer that, prior to the shooting, she had
been lying in bed, heard a loud bang, and left her bed to
investigate. She further said that when she entered the
hallway from her bedroom, she "kept getting hit."
An ambulance transported the victim to Backus Hospital where
she was pronounced dead at 2:50 a.m. on December 14, 2011, as
a result of multiple gunshot wounds.
Immediately following the shooting, the defendant, out of
breath from running, returned to Collelos vehicle. The
defendant told Collelo and Butler that he "handled
it" and they should leave. Collelo drove the three men
from the scene, and on Boswell Avenue they saw a police
cruiser approaching from the opposite direction with its
lights on. At the defendants direction, Collelo parked the
vehicle in a driveway as the police cruiser passed. While the
vehicle was parked in the driveway, the defendant "said
something about shooting a gun" and told Butler that
"something went wrong ...." Collelo then drove the
vehicle to the defendants residence on Shetucket Avenue.
Butler walked to his residence and Collelo and the defendant
entered the defendants residence. The defendant went
upstairs with Evette Nieves, with whom he shared the
residence. The defendant and Nieves then left the residence
at approximately 2 a.m. and Collelo slept on the couch.
an investigation of the scene, law enforcement found nine
bullet holes in the victims apartment door and six
corresponding defects caused by bullets in the victims
apartment. Investigators also found nine spent shell casings,
one live shell, and five brass colored projectiles. Gregory
Klees, a firearms and tool mark examiner from the federal
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Laboratory (ATF), testified that the same firearm had fired
all recovered ballistics evidence and that the firearm was
likely a Beretta nine millimeter semiautomatic pistol.
Conn.App. 451] Following the victims murder, at
approximately 2 a.m. on December 14, 2011, Luis Burgos, the
defendants neighbor, was sitting in front of his house when
the defendant approached him, asked whether
he was interested in purchasing a firearm, and sold him a
nine millimeter firearm. Later that morning, Burgos learned
that the victim had been shot and killed. Burgos, who was on
parole, feared that his residence would be searched and the
possession of the firearm would place him in violation of his
parole. Burgos drove to a fishing area on the Thames River,
dismantled and unloaded the firearm, and threw the pin,
magazine, slider, and bullets into the river.
later was convicted and sentenced for an unrelated armed
robbery committed on March 30, 2013. Hoping to reduce his own
sentence and eliminate any personal affiliation with the
victims murder, Burgos contacted law enforcement in 2014 and
shared the information he knew about the victims murder.
After he provided the information to police, law enforcement
transported Burgos to the area near the Thames River where he
claimed to have disposed of the firearm pieces. The
Connecticut state police dive team performed a five day
search of the Thames River and recovered a handgun magazine.
The dive team found the magazine in approximately ten feet of
water and approximately sixty-four feet from railroad tracks
that ran alongside the shore. At trial, when asked about any
markings on the gun the defendant had sold him, Burgos
responded, "I think it said Llama; I think thats what
examined the magazine, which was heavily corroded due to
water exposure, and determined that it was either an
aftermarket or a replacement magazine that, prior to being
submerged in the Thames River, likely could have fit a nine
millimeter Beretta handgun. [194 Conn.App. 452] ...