State v. Ash, 11438

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtSPEAR
Citation638 A.2d 633,33 Conn.App. 782
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Eric ASH.
Docket NumberNo. 11438,11438
Decision Date12 May 1994

Ramona S. Carlow, Sp. Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

John A. East III, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were James E. Thomas, State's Atty., and Herbert E. Carlson, Jr., Sr. Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).


SPEAR, Judge.

The defendant, Eric Ash, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of manslaughter in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55(a)(1). 1 The defendant claims that the trial court improperly (1) concluded that the evidence presented by the state was sufficient to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant's defense of justification, (2) concluded that the evidence presented by the state was sufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction of manslaughter in the first degree, (3) instructed the jury as to the duty to retreat, and (4) deprived the defendant of his federal and state constitutional rights to due process by marshaling the evidence in its jury charge. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On April 3, 1991, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Vincent Ellison was stabbed to death at the doorway to his apartment. The victim's apartment is located on the first floor of a dilapidated, brick building at 500 Ann Street in Hartford. The front entrance to the building opens into a large hallway on the first floor and there are two apartments located on the left side of the hallway that are visible from the front entrance. The victim's apartment was the first one on the left and James Osborne's was the second. Beyond Osborne's apartment is a short corridor leading to another apartment, not visible from the front entrance. The victim's cousin, Oscar Steve Anglin, lived in the third apartment.

The defendant frequently visited the victim at his apartment. On April 3, 1991, the victim, the defendant and the victim's cousin, Michael Antoine Nixon, were present in the victim's apartment. The three men spent the afternoon drinking alcohol and taking drugs. At about 5:30 p.m., the defendant left the apartment to "hustle" some money in order to obtain more drugs. He returned shortly thereafter with two sweaters he had shoplifted from a local store. At about 6 p.m., the victim sent Nixon out with directions to sell the sweaters and to purchase more drugs with the proceeds.

When Nixon failed to return within the hour, the defendant became concerned about Nixon's absence and expressed this concern to the victim several times. The victim became angry with the defendant for mistrusting his cousin. He threatened to harm the defendant if he did not leave the apartment. The defendant then ran out of the victim's apartment into the hallway and knocked on the door to Osborne's apartment. He did not wait for Osborne to answer because he thought the victim was pursuing him with a knife. He continued down the hallway and knocked on Anglin's door. When Anglin opened the door he saw that the defendant was carrying a large butcher knife. 2 The defendant entered Anglin's apartment and pleaded with him to calm the enraged victim. Anglin then stepped into the hallway to speak with the victim, who was carrying a broomstick. Anglin had shut the door behind him and the defendant locked the door from the inside. After speaking with Anglin for approximately seven to eight minutes, the victim turned and went down the hallway in the direction of his apartment. The defendant let Anglin return to his apartment and the defendant then decided to leave Anglin's apartment and to retrieve his shoes and clothes from the victim's apartment before he left the building.

Osborne, who had overheard the voices of the defendant, the victim and Anglin coming from the direction of Anglin's apartment, opened his apartment door to see what was going on in the hallway. Osborne saw the victim first, standing in front of Osborne's apartment door, holding a broomstick and shouting loudly about "kick[ing the defendant's] ass." Osborne then saw the defendant walking down the hallway from the direction of Anglin's apartment with a knife in his hand. The defendant came face-to-face with the victim and stated that he was tired of his threats and that he was not going to take it any longer. At that point, the victim assumed a karate stance holding the stick with both hands and said to the defendant, "Come on, bitch, come on."

The victim then swung the stick at the defendant, hitting him in the shoulder and the defendant thrust the knife at the victim. The men fought back and forth from the doorway of Osborne's apartment toward the front entrance of the building and back to the doorway of the victim's apartment. At some point during the fight, the knife and stick fell to the hallway floor.

After several minutes of fistfighting, the victim lost his footing and fell backward onto the floor and across his apartment's threshold. The victim was lying on his back with his legs extended into the hallway and his upper torso inside his apartment. The defendant ended up on top of the victim, straddling him, while the victim struggled to push or kick the defendant off of him. In the midst of the struggle, the defendant picked up the knife from the hall floor and fatally stabbed the victim. The defendant then went into Osborne's apartment and asked for a pair of shoes. When Osborne told the defendant that he could not believe he had stabbed the victim, the defendant responded, "I did it, and I'll do it again." The defendant then left Osborne's apartment with the knife and a pair of Osborne's shoes, went next door to the victim's apartment to retrieve his jacket, and fled the building.

When arrested, the defendant told the police, "I had to stab him; I had to stab him." At trial, however, the defendant testified that he did not recollect actually stabbing the victim although he did recall thrashing at the victim with a knife in his hand. He claimed to have been scared and confused and to have acted in self-defense. After a jury trial, the defendant was found not guilty of murder and was convicted of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree. The trial court sentenced the defendant to a total effective sentence of twenty years. This appeal followed.


The defendant first claims that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to disprove his defense of justification beyond a reasonable doubt. We disagree.

We employ a two part test in reviewing claims relating to the sufficiency of the evidence. State v. Young, 29 Conn.App. 754, 767, 618 A.2d 65 (1992), cert. denied, 225 Conn. 904, 621 A.2d 287 (1993); State v. Cruz, 28 Conn.App. 575, 578, 611 A.2d 457 (1992). We first construe the evidence presented at trial in a light most favorable to sustaining the verdict. State v. Young, supra; State v. Cruz, supra. "We then determine whether, from the evidence and all the reasonable inferences which it yields, [the jury] could reasonably have concluded that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Young, supra; 3 see also State v. Joyner, 225 Conn. 450, 455, 625 A.2d 791 (1993); State v. Baldwin, 224 Conn. 347, 368, 618 A.2d 513 (1993); State v. Crosswell, 223 Conn. 243, 249, 612 A.2d 1174 (1992).

At trial, the defendant claimed that he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed the victim to death. "Self-defense is raised by way of justification, and when such defense is asserted 'the state shall have the burden of disproving such defense beyond a reasonable doubt.' General Statutes § 53a-12(a)...." (Citations omitted.) State v. Gelormino, 24 Conn.App. 556, 561, 590 A.2d 476, cert. denied, 219 Conn. 913, 593 A.2d 138 (1991); State v. Jarrett, 218 Conn. 766, 772, 591 A.2d 1225 (1991); State v. Deptula, 31 Conn.App. 140, 147, 623 A.2d 525, appeal dismissed, 228 Conn. 852, 635 A.2d 812 (1993). The defendant maintains that the state failed to introduce sufficient evidence to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of self-defense as set forth in General Statutes § 53a-19. 4

A person is justified in using deadly physical force, under the self-defense statute, § 53a-19(a), only when he reasonably believes such force to be necessary because he "reasonably believes that [another] person is (1) using or about to use deadly physical force, or (2) inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm." Even then, under § 53a-19(b) and (c), a person is not justified in using deadly physical force on another person if (1) he knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, (2) with intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, he provokes the use of physical force by such other person, (3) he is the initial aggressor, or (4) the physical force involved was the product of a combat by agreement. Section 53a-19 " 'presents a question of fact about what the defendant himself reasonably believed about his exposure to jeopardy under the circumstances. State v. DeJesus, 194 Conn. 376, 389, 481 A.2d 1277 (1984); State v. Corchado, 188 Conn. 653, 663, 453 A.2d 427 (1982).' " State v. Garrison, 203 Conn. 466, 470, 525 A.2d 498 (1987).

The jury was free to disbelieve the defendant's claim of self-defense and to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant could not reasonably have believed that he was faced with an imminent use of physical force by the victim or that the degree of physical force he used against the victim was necessary to defend himself. General Statutes § 53a-19(a); see State v. Bellino, 31 Conn.App. 385, 392-93, 625 A.2d 1381, cert. granted, 226 Conn. 917, 628 A.2d 988 (1993). At the time of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • State v. Rios, AC 36987
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • February 28, 2017
    ...the defendant's waiver under Kitchens, the defendant cannot prevail under Golding.16 The claim of instructional error in State v. Ash, 33 Conn.App. 782, 795, 638 A.2d 633, rev'd on other grounds, 231 Conn. 484, 651 A.2d 247 (1994), had been preserved by the defendant "by filing a proper req......
  • State v. Smith, 11764
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • June 7, 1994
    ...State v. Baldwin, [224 Conn. 347, 368, 618 A.2d 513 (1993) ]." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Ash, 33 Conn.App. 782, 792, 638 A.2d 633, 639 (1994), cert. granted, 229 Conn. 916, 642 A.2d 1211 (1994). Intent may be gleaned from " 'circumstantial evidence such......
  • State v. Coleman, 12287
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • October 4, 1994
    ...State v. Baldwin, 224 Conn. 347, 368, 618 A.2d 513 (1993); State v. Crosswell, 223 Conn. 243, 249, 612 A.2d 1174 (1992)." State v. Ash, 33 Conn.App. 782, 787, 638 A.2d 633 (1994). The probative force of the evidence is not diminished if it consists in whole or in part of circumstantial evid......
  • State v. Prioleau, 14896
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 22, 1995
    ...we nevertheless conclude that the defendant properly preserved his claim for review by means of his request to charge. See State v. Ash, 33 Conn.App. 782, 794-95, 638 A.2d 633, rev'd on other grounds, 231 Conn. 484, 651 A.2d 247 11 The fact that the defendant's belief that he had needed to ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT