State v. Johnson

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore ALCORN; HOUSE
Citation160 Conn. 28,273 A.2d 702
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Ronald JOHNSON et al.
Decision Date28 July 1970

Page 702

273 A.2d 702
160 Conn. 28
STATE of Connecticut
v.
Ronald JOHNSON et al.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
July 28, 1970.

[160 Conn. 29] Anthony V. DeMayo, New Haven, and, of the New York bar, Kristin B. Glen, New York City, for appellants (defendants).

David B. Salzman, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, was Arnold Markle, State's Atty., for appellee (state).

Before [160 Conn. 28] ALCORN, C.J., and HOUSE, COTTER, SHAPIRO and BARBER, * JJ.

[160 Conn. 29]

Page 703

HOUSE, Associate Justice.

The defendants, Ronald Johnson and Buddy Bonner, were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to cause injury to persons and property in New Haven by means of explosive materials and compounds, in violation of § 54-197 of the General Statutes. It is unnecessary to relate in detail the circumstances of the offense of which they were convicted. It suffices to note that the state produced evidence to prove and claimed to have proved that the defendants, with others, conspired to obtain guns, dynamite and other explosive compounds with the intention and purpose of killing certain New Haven police officers and blowing up the New Haven police station and several banks in that city.

[160 Conn. 30] The defendants filed a joint brief in this appeal in support of numerous assignments of error, some of which are not applicable to both defendants and many of which we find it unnecessary to discuss. Upon a review of the entire case as presented to us, we find that a decision upon one assignment of error applicable to both defendants is dispositive of the appeal. This claim is that the court was in error in denying the motion of the defendants to strike the testimony of three employees of C. W. Blakeslee Company regarding the theft of dynamite from a construction site.

A significant element of the state's case was evidence that the defendants and others by prearrangement met with undercover government agents to whom they disclosed plans to kill certain New Haven police officers and blow up the New Haven police station and several banks and their desire to trade sticks of dynamite for machine guns and plastic explosives. Subsequently, on December 23, 1967, at the time and place arranged for the exchange, the police seized from a truck parked by an alleged coconspirator in front of the assigned meeting place two cardboard boxes containing a total of forty-three sticks of dynamite.

During the trial, three employees of C. W. Blakeslee Company were called as witnesses. Upon the representation of the then state's attorney that the dynamite as to which they testified would be 'tied up' to this particular case, the witnesses were permitted to testify that during the night of October 31, 1967, someone had ripped a lock off a toolbox at a construction site in Woodbridge and had taken about fifty sticks of dynamite and that the dynamite stolen was the same kind of dynamite as that subsequently seized at the rendezvous with the undercover[160 Conn. 31] agents in this case. At a later point in the trial the defendants, referring to the representation by the state that it would 'connect up the missing dynamite with these particular defendants,' moved that the testimony of the Blakeslee employees be stricken because it had not been so connected, was neither material nor relevant, and tended to show the commission of a crime with which the defendants were not charged. The motion was denied, proper exception taken, and the ruling assigned as error on this appeal.

The court gave no reason for its denial of the motion, and the only basis suggested by the record is the finding of the court, in connection with this aspect of the appeal, that when a codefendant, Curtis Belton, was arrested he told the arresting officers that on Halloween night, 1967, 'Johnson and some guys stole some dynamite from a construction site in Woodbridge, Conn.' It also appears that after Belton was taken to the police station he gave a statement to the police which contained the information that 'somebody' said that Johnson had a case of dynamite which he had obtained from a construction site in Woodbridge. There is nothing in the record nor in the evidence contained in the appendices to the briefs to suggest that, aside from being the same kind of dynamite (a kind in common and general use in the area) the dynamite sticks seized in the truck by the police were the same as those which had been stolen from the Blakeslee construction site. The only evidence in the case connecting the two lots of dynamite and making the theft from the Blakeslee

Page 704

Company relevant to the crime with which these defendants were charged consisted of the...

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29 practice notes
  • State v. Maner, AC 35109
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 28, 2014
    ...evidence because the state failed to establish its materiality. See State v. Mozell, supra, 36 Conn. App. 677; see also State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 30-33, 273 A.2d 702 (1970) (state failed to connect dynamite seized from defendants with dynamite stolen from construction site); State v. ......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 28, 1982
    ...their minimal probative value that their admission into evidence constituted an abuse of the trial court's discretion. State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 33, 273 A.2d 702 [1970]." State v. Acklin, supra, 115, 368 A.2d 212. The masks and rope in Acklin were tenuous evidence of a conspiracy as n......
  • State v. Coleman, No. 12287
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • October 4, 1994
    ...are not connected to the commission of the crime charged. State v. Ferraro, 160 Conn. 42, 45, 273 A.2d 694 (1970); State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 31, 273 A.2d 702 (1970). Thus, Stephenson's testimony concerning the three knives found in the defendant's car should not have been admitted bec......
  • State v. Santiago, No. 14152
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • December 29, 1992
    ...(1976) (rope and stocking masks); State v. Ferraro, 160 Conn. 42, 45, 273 A.2d 694 (1970) (guns, ammunition, ski masks); State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 31, 273 A.2d 702 (1970) (dynamite). The rationale of these cases is that, '[a]bsent such a connection, the balance of scales clearly tips ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • State v. Maner, AC 35109
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • January 28, 2014
    ...evidence because the state failed to establish its materiality. See State v. Mozell, supra, 36 Conn. App. 677; see also State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 30-33, 273 A.2d 702 (1970) (state failed to connect dynamite seized from defendants with dynamite stolen from construction site); State v. ......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 28, 1982
    ...their minimal probative value that their admission into evidence constituted an abuse of the trial court's discretion. State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 33, 273 A.2d 702 [1970]." State v. Acklin, supra, 115, 368 A.2d 212. The masks and rope in Acklin were tenuous evidence of a conspiracy as n......
  • State v. Coleman, No. 12287
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • October 4, 1994
    ...are not connected to the commission of the crime charged. State v. Ferraro, 160 Conn. 42, 45, 273 A.2d 694 (1970); State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 31, 273 A.2d 702 (1970). Thus, Stephenson's testimony concerning the three knives found in the defendant's car should not have been admitted bec......
  • State v. Santiago, No. 14152
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • December 29, 1992
    ...(1976) (rope and stocking masks); State v. Ferraro, 160 Conn. 42, 45, 273 A.2d 694 (1970) (guns, ammunition, ski masks); State v. Johnson, 160 Conn. 28, 31, 273 A.2d 702 (1970) (dynamite). The rationale of these cases is that, '[a]bsent such a connection, the balance of scales clearly tips ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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