State v. Amado

Decision Date30 July 1996
Docket NumberNo. 15176,15176
Citation42 Conn.App. 348,680 A.2d 974
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Eric AMADO.

Lauren Weisfeld, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

Susann E. Gill, Assistant State's Attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Donald A. Browne, State's Attorney, and Jonathan C. Benedict, Assistant State's Attorney, for appellee (state).


HEIMAN, Judge.

The defendant appeals 1 from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of two counts of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, 2 two counts of felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, 3 and capital felony in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54b. 4 The trial court sentenced the defendant on the capital felony conviction only and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release pursuant to General Statutes 53a-35a. 5 The defendant claims that the judgment should be reversed because of deficiencies in the trial court's charge on the law of self-defense. Specifically, the defendant asserts that the trial court improperly instructed the jury (1) on the victims' right to defend their premises where that right was not at issue, (2) on the use of reasonable force, (3) on the concept of initial aggressor, (4) on the duty to retreat and (5) that self-defense is not a defense to a charge of felony murder.

Although the defendant raises a number of issues relating to the trial court's charge on self-defense, the dispositive issue in this appeal is whether self-defense, codified in General Statutes § 53a-19, 6 is available as a defense to a charge of felony murder. If self-defense is not available as a defense to felony murder, then the defendant's attack on the self-defense charge as it applies to his felony murder conviction would be unavailing, and, consequently, the felony murder conviction would support the capital felony conviction. 7 If the capital felony conviction is supported by the felony murder convictions, we need not address the defendant's attack on the self-defense charge as it applies to his intentional murder convictions because, regardless of any impropriety in the self-defense charge as it applies to the intentional murder convictions, the capital felony conviction would remain intact. 8 Thus, the resolution of the defendant's fifth claim is dispositive of this appeal.

The jury could reasonably have found the following facts. On October 18, 1990, and for some time prior thereto, Eric Amado was living in an apartment in West Haven with Joanne Bailey and Hope Vaughn. Amado also stored cocaine that he was selling in bulk in the apartment. He stored the narcotics in a small safe and in a duffel bag, both of which were kept in the laundry room of the apartment.

On October 18, 1990, Vaughn called Anthony Young at his residence at 505 Williams Street in Bridgeport. Young came to the West Haven apartment, and he and Vaughn removed the duffel bag and the safe from the apartment and placed them in the trunk of Young's red Toyota Celica. Before leaving the apartment, Vaughn and Young opened the window and knocked some items to the floor to make it appear that someone had broken into the premises. They left West Haven and went to 505 Williams Street. When they arrived in Bridgeport, Young telephoned Peter Hall, who then went to 505 Williams Street.

Some time during that same day, Amado returned to the apartment and found that a window had been opened and that items in the apartment had been knocked over. Amado had gone to the apartment to pick up a quantity of cocaine that he was going to deliver to a purchaser. When Amado went to the laundry room where his drugs had been stored, he discovered that the drugs were missing. Bailey also returned to the apartment and discovered the open window and the items knocked to the floor. She left the premises and went to her sister's house in Bridgeport.

Later in the day, Amado picked up Bailey at her sister's house in Bridgeport. Amado was driving a white Mitsubishi. Amado was accompanied by Anthony Smalls. The group went to Norwalk to look for Vaughn to ascertain whether she knew who was responsible for the theft of the drugs. Amado, Bailey and Smalls met John Wideman, who joined in the search for Vaughn.

The group went to Stamford. They arrived at a house, and Bailey and Wideman waited in the car while Amado and Smalls entered the house. After about thirty minutes, Smalls emerged from the house. Fifteen minutes later, Amado came out of the house. Amado told the others that he had been visiting with a "voodoo man" who had told him that Vaughn and two others had stolen his drugs.

The group returned to Bridgeport and left Bailey at her sister's house. Amado told her to stay there until he returned. Amado, Smalls and Wideman left the house and returned about ten minutes later accompanied by David Bailey, who was driving a blue Volvo.

The group of five decided to look for Vaughn. Amado, Smalls and Joanne Bailey rode in the white Mitsubishi, while Wideman and David Bailey rode in the blue Volvo. They first went to Vaughn's sister's house and when they did not find Vaughn there, they proceeded to 505 Williams Street. The four men were armed with pistols. They arrived at 505 Williams Street at about 9 p.m. and observed Vaughn standing on the porch with Young and Hall. Amado told Joanne Bailey to go to the porch and tell Vaughn that he wanted to talk with her. Vaughn came down from the porch and entered the white Mitsubishi. Amado asked Vaughn if she knew where his drugs were. Vaughn denied any knowledge of the theft or whereabouts of the missing cocaine. While questioning Vaughn, Amado was upset and talked loudly. Amado, Smalls, Vaughn, Wideman, David Bailey and Joanne Bailey left Williams Street and arrived at the West Haven apartment at about 2:30 a.m. on October 19, 1990. The group remained there overnight.

At about 10 a.m., Amado and Joanne Bailey went into the hallway to talk with neighbors. Amado wanted to determine whether the neighbors had observed anyone removing items from his apartment. After speaking with a neighbor across the hall, Amado told Vaughn that he had learned that she had taken his cocaine. Amado told Vaughn that the neighbor had seen her in a red Toyota Celica. Vaughn said that the vehicle belonged to Young.

Amado, Smalls, Vaughn, Wideman, David Bailey and Joanne Bailey proceeded to 505 Williams Street. Amado, Smalls, Vaughn and Joanne Bailey rode in the white Mitsubishi and the others rode in the blue Volvo. They arrived at the house at about 11 a.m., and everyone exited the vehicles. Amado and Smalls were both armed with handguns.

Amado, Vaughn and Joanne Bailey went to the porch of the house and rang the doorbell. When nobody answered, they knocked on the door. Young opened the door and Hall was standing behind him. Hall had a gun in the waistband of his pants. Amado accused Young and Hall of having his cocaine, and both Young and Hall denied having the drugs.

Young asked if they could talk, and Amado began shooting. He fired five shots. Joanne Bailey was shot in the left thigh, Young was shot in the left groin area and Hall was shot on the left side of the abdomen. Joanne Bailey went into the house, fell down and crawled into the kitchen. Hall went into the kitchen and collapsed on the floor near the refrigerator. Young collapsed in the front hall near the doorway.

Amado, Smalls, Wideman and David Bailey fled, leaving behind Vaughn and Joanne Bailey. Vaughn called 911 from a neighbor's house and EMTs responded to the call. When the EMTs arrived at the house, the front door was locked and they were unable to enter. Vaughn returned and was screaming, "He's shot." She kicked in the window, entered the house and opened the front door for the EMTs.

Upon entering the house, the EMTs observed Young lying on the floor of the front hallway. He was unconscious and had sustained a gunshot wound. He was clutching a fully loaded magazine for an automatic weapon. Hall, also suffering from a gunshot wound, was sitting on the floor in the bedroom. He was unconscious, but his eyes were open. He held a small automatic pistol. The hammer of the pistol was cocked back, and his finger was on the trigger. The EMTs also found Joanne Bailey.

The Bridgeport police arrived. Officer John Galpin spoke with Young, who had regained consciousness, and asked him to name the person who had shot him. Young responded that Amado had shot him. Young and Hall were transported to Bridgeport Hospital. Both died as a result of gunshot wounds. Young died as a result of a gunshot wound to the groin area and Hall died as a result of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The police obtained a search warrant for 505 Williams Street, and a search of the basement resulted in the seizure of two large plastic bags containing rocky white powder. One of the plastic bags was inside a black duffel bag. In addition, the police found a strainer, a spoon and a safe. The contents of the plastic bags tested positive for crack cocaine. The total weight of the two bags was about three and one-half pounds and, the drugs had a bulk value of about $38,000.

An arrest warrant was issued for Amado (hereinafter the defendant), and he was arrested in Georgia as a fugitive from justice. Bridgeport authorities were notified of the defendant's arrest on March 21, 1992, and approximately ten months later he was returned to Bridgeport for trial.

The defendant testified at trial. He conceded that he had shot the victims, but asserted that he did so in self-defense. He admitted that he lived in the West Haven apartment with Joanne Bailey and that in October, 1990, he had been engaged in selling cocaine. He also conceded that the duffel bag containing the cocaine and the safe were his property. He claimed that on October 18, 1990, he discovered...

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10 cases
  • State v. Small
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 29, 1997
    ...We agree with the state. Amado's appeal as presented to the Appellate Court went only to the issue of self-defense. State v. Amado, 42 Conn.App. 348, 350, 680 A.2d 974 (1996). In upholding Amado's convictions, the Appellate Court concluded that self-defense is not a legally cognizable defen......
  • State v. Amado
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • October 6, 1998
    ...This appeal returns to us on remand from our Supreme Court. State v. Amado, 242 Conn. 906, 697 A.2d 368 (1997). In State v. Amado, 42 Conn. App. 348, 363, 680 A.2d 974 (1996), we concluded that the defendant's two felony murder convictions were proper and that they provided a sufficient pre......
  • State v. Holmes
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • December 14, 2021
    ...the underlying felony upon which the felony murder charge is predicated." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Amado , 42 Conn. App. 348, 358, 680 A.2d 974 (1996). Unlike felony murder, manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm does not require proof of a predicate offense, bu......
  • State v. Amado
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 15, 2000
    ...determined that, as a matter of law, the defense of self-defense does not apply to a charge of felony murder.5State v. Amado, 42 Conn. App. 348, 362, 680 A.2d 974 (1996). We granted the defendant's petition for certification; State v. Amado, 242 Conn. 906, 697 A.2d 368 (1997); and remanded ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Significant Developments in Criminal Law 1995-1996
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 71, 1996
    • Invalid date
    ...236 Conn. at 358-359 (Borden, J., concurring). 95 State v. Person, 236 Conn. at 362 (Callahan, J., dissenting). 96 State v. Amado, 42 Conn. App. 348, 362, 680 A.2d 974 (1996). 97 225 Conn. 450, 625 A.2d 791 (1993). 98 State v. Dejesus, 236 Conn. 189, 204-205, 672 A-2d 488 (1996). 99 236 Con......

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