State v. Coltherst, 091719 CTCA, AC 40828

Docket Nº:AC 40828
Opinion Judge:LAVERY, J.
Attorney:Michael W. Brown, for the appellant (defendant). Melissa Patterson, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Vicki Melchiorre, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Judge Panel:DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Lavery, Js.
Case Date:September 17, 2019
Court:Appellate Court of Connecticut




No. AC 40828

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

September 17, 2019

Argued May 15, 2019

Procedural History

Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of capital felony, murder, felony murder, kidnapping in the first degree, conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree, larceny in the first degree and larceny in the fourth degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the jury before Mulcahy, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty; thereafter, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court, which affirmed his conviction; subsequently, the court, Dewey, J., granted the defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence and resentenced the defendant, and the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

Michael W. Brown, for the appellant (defendant).

Melissa Patterson, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Vicki Melchiorre, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Lavery, Js.



The defendant, Jamaal Coltherst, appeals from the judgment of the trial court resentencing him for crimes which he had committed when he was seventeen years old. The defendant claims that the court improperly (1) failed, pursuant to General Statutes § 54-91g, 1 to account adequately for the defendant's youth at the time he committed the underlying crimes, and (2) afforded the defendant an opportunity to provide additional remarks to the court, in violation of his rights to counsel, due process, and allocution. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts, asset forth by our Supreme Court in its decision affirming the defendant's underlying criminal convictions, are relevant to this appeal: ‘‘On the morning of October 15, 1999, the defendant was released from the Manson Youth Institute, a correctional institution located in Cheshire, where he had been incarcerated for violating probation after having been convicted on charges of assault in the third degree. His mother and his grandfather picked him up at the institute and drove him to their house on Plain Drive in East Hartford. At some point during the day, a friend of the defendant, Jamarie Cole, came by to visit. The defendant and Cole were sitting outside together when, at about 3 p.m., another of the defendant's friends, Carl Johnson, came up to them. Johnson indicated that he was going to ‘do something' that night. The defendant understood Johnson to mean that he was going to rob someone. Johnson told the defendant that he would meet him later and left.

‘‘At approximately 6:30 p.m., Johnson returned to the defendant's house. Johnson was riding a mountain bike and carrying a bike for the defendant to ride. The defendant, seeing that Johnson was dressed entirely in black, went to his room and changed into black clothes. Johnson and the defendant then rode the bicycles to a parking lot near the defendant's house, where the defendant asked Johnson to show him the gun that Johnson previously had indicated he would be carrying. Johnson showed him a black .22 caliber pistol and let him hold it. They then proceeded to an exotic dance club known as Kahoots, located on Main Street in East Hartford, arriving at approximately 7:30 p.m. They parked the bicycles in the bushes behind the club and then walked around the parking lot to identify cars that they might want to carjack.

‘‘The defendant and Johnson previously had discussed how they would commit the carjacking. Their plan was to approach the first person who came out of the club, at which point Johnson would point the gun at the person's head and demand the car keys. The defendant would take the keys, and the defendant and Johnson would force the person into the car. They would then drive to a place far away from any telephones or cars and leave the person there. Johnson told the defendant that he had rope and tape in his backpack if they needed to restrain the person.

‘‘The defendant and Johnson identified approximately three desirable cars in the Kahoots parking lot, but they decided to leave because it was early and they knew that people would not be leaving the club until later. At that point they rode down Main Street to the Triple A Diner, where they continued to look for cars to carjack. They determined that the diner was too busy for them to commit a robbery without being seen. They then rode their bicycles across the street to Dunkin Donuts, where they had seen a Lexus automobile in the parking lot. They hid in the bushes near the car but left after waiting for about one-half hour for the owner of the car to come out.

‘‘The defendant and Johnson then returned to Kahoots, arriving at approximately 9 p.m. They hid their bicycles behind the Rent-A-Wreck building located next to the club. They saw a 1999 Toyota 4Runner parked in the Rent-A-Wreck parking lot and waited there for the driver to return so that they could carjack the car. While they were waiting, a black Honda Accord pulled up behind Rent-A-Wreck. The driver, later identified as Kyle Holden (victim), exited the car and went into Kahoots. Some time later, when the victim came out of Kahoots and headed toward his car, the defendant and Johnson ran up to him. Johnson pointed his gun at the victim's head and demanded the keys to the car. The defendant took them. Johnson then gave the gun to the defendant and took the keys himself. Johnson and the defendant forced the victim into the backseat of the car, where the defendant joined him. They then drove to an automatic teller machine (ATM) located next to the Triple A Diner. The defendant took the victim's wallet, removed his ATM card and demanded the victim's personal identification number. The defendant [then] gave the card to Johnson, who used it to withdraw money from the ATM.

‘‘Johnson then drove to a nearby entrance ramp for Interstate 84, where he pulled over to the side of the road. The defendant and Johnson got out of the car, and the defendant gave the gun to Johnson. Johnson then ordered the victim to get out of the car. The victim went to the far side of the guardrail, where he sat down. The defendant removed the victim's belongings from the car and then got back into the car's passenger side seat. At that point, the defendant saw Johnson shoot the victim at point blank range in the back of the head. The victim died within seconds. Johnson then got back into the car. The defendant asked him why he had shot the victim, and Johnson said that he did not want any witnesses. Johnson had been wearing a pair of black gloves, which he placed in the car's glove compartment.

‘‘Over the next eight days, the defendant and Johnson continued to use the car. Bank transaction records showed that, on October 16, 1999, the victim's ATM card was used at an ATM machine located on Park Avenue in Bloomfield to make three separate withdrawals from the victim's checking account, for a total of $280. A surveillance camera at that ATM machine photographed Johnson and the defendant in the victim's car as they made the withdrawals.

‘‘Meanwhile, on October 16, 1999, East Hartford police officer Gerard Scagliola was on patrol in East Hartford when he noticed the victim's car being operated in what he considered to be a suspicious manner. He entered the car's license plate number into his cruiser's computerized search system, which revealed no irregularities. On October 19, 1999, the Avon police department received a report that the victim, who had been a resident of Avon, was missing. During their investigation, the Avon police learned of Scagliola's computer inquiry and focused their search for the victim and his car on the area of East Hartford where Scagliola had seen the car. On October 24, 1999, Sergeant Robert Whitty of the Avon police department was patrolling in East Hartford in connection with the investigation when he saw a black Honda matching the description of the victim's car. Whitty, who was in an unmarked car, followed the Honda and used a cell phone to call the East Hartford police department to request additional police officers. The Honda pulled into a parking lot on Plain Drive. Whitty pulled up behind it, exited his car and identified himself as a police officer. Four individuals, ultimately identified as Johnson, the defendant, Rashad Smith and Damion Kelly, emerged from the Honda. Whitty drew his service revolver and ordered the four individuals to lie in a prone position behind the Honda. The East Hartford police arrived within approximately one minute and arrested the four individuals.

‘‘In the hours following his arrest, the defendant gave the police several inconsistent statements...

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