State v. Reeves

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Citation57 Conn. App. 337,748 A.2d 357
Decision Date18 April 2000
Parties(Conn.App. 2000) STATE OF CONNECTICUT V. TYWAAN REEVES (AC 19028)

748 A.2d 357 (Conn.App. 2000)

(AC 19028)
Connecticut Court of Appeals
Argued December 14, 1999
April 18, 2000

Jerald S. Barber, for the appellant (defendant).

Robert M. Spector, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was Mary M. Galvin, state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

O'Connell, C. J., and Foti and Healey, Js.1

Healey, J.


The defendant, Tywaan Reeves, was found guilty, after a jury trial, of one count of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-134 (a) (4),2 one count of failure to appear in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-172 (a)3 and two counts of tampering with a witness in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-151 (a).4 This appeal followed.

On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court acted improperly in unduly restricting his cross-examinations of the state's principal witnesses concerning their bias and motive in testifying against the defendant. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

On the basis of the evidence adduced at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. At approximately 6 p.m. on February 21, 1998, Marcus Russell, age seventeen, and his girlfriend, Shaluanda Elliot, age fourteen, were watching television at his apartment on Hilton Drive in West Haven. Shortly before 6:30 p.m., Russell and Elliot left his apartment to walk her to her home on Homeside Avenue. As they were walking, Russell and Elliot noticed that three black males were following them. Both Russell and Elliot recognized two of the individuals as the defendant and Willie Minor. Elliot also recognized the third individual as John Walton.5 Russell told Elliot to keep walking. Both did so. When Russell and Elliot reached Glade Street, which was a few blocks from Homeside Avenue, they noticed that the three individuals who had been following them had disappeared. Shortly thereafter, however, when they had reached Terrace Street, they saw that the defendant and Minor had reappeared6 behind them and were again following them.

When Russell and Elliot reached Homeside Avenue, the defendant shouted at them, "You all stop walking." Russell turned around and said, "What?" and continued walking. The defendant then said, "You all gots to stop walking. I'm going to shoot." The defendant approached them, and both Russell and Elliot saw a gun in his hand. He stated to Russell, "You violated me," and that he was going to "run [Russell's] jewels."7 Both men wore dark jackets and masks that covered the lower half of their faces. Thereafter, the defendant held the gun against Russell's chest. At the defendant's direction, Minor "popped" a gold chain that Russell was wearing from around his neck. This chain had a round medallion with a depiction of the Virgin Mary on it and was worth approximately $600. Russell was also directed to remove a gold ring from his finger and to give it to the defendant. This ring had rubies and cubic zirconias on the band and a picture of the Virgin Mary on its face, and it was worth about $80. The defendant, telling Russell that he knew that he had more jewelry, checked Russell's wrists for bracelets, but found none. The defendant and Minor then fled toward Glade Street.

Both Russell and Elliot immediately ran the short distance to Elliot's house and told her mother, Luray Elliot, what had happened. Angered over this situation, Elliot's mother, Elliot, Russell and several neighbors went to Glade Street to try to find the defendant.8

In the meantime, the police were called and told of the robbery. David Cahill, an officer with the West Haven police department, was dispatched to the area. Upon his arrival, he spoke to Russell and Elliot, who told him that the defendant had robbed them at gunpoint. He learned that the two alleged robbers were black males, both dressed in dark coats and dark pants, and that they had worn masks that covered the lower half of their faces. He also got a description of the gold chain and the gold ring. Cahill was familiar with the defendant in that he lived in the area. The police dispatcher learned that the defendant lived at an apartment at 54 Glade Street and sent Officers Steven Viele and Pauline Sires, who had been in radio contact with Cahill, to that address to find him.

Cahill proceeded to the defendant's apartment on foot, but Viele and Sires arrived there before him. Emily Reeves, the defendant's grandmother, answered Sires' knock on the apartment door. Sires told her that the defendant was a suspect in a robbery that had just occurred and that they wanted her consent to search the apartment. She consented and pointed out the defendant's room for them. In that room, Viele and Sires observed two dark jackets, one on a bed and the other on the floor, which were similar to the jackets worn by the alleged robbers. The jackets later were determined to belong to the defendant and Minor.9 The officers continued to search the bedroom, but the defendant was not there. In that bedroom there was a closet about six feet high and four feet to five feet wide, with sliding doors, one to each side. At the time Viele approached the closet, the right closet door was fully closed but the left door was fully opened. As he stood up from examining the right side of the closet, Viele saw a piece of jewelry in front of a stack of clothes on a shelf. It was "very bright," it was "gold with clear stones" and "red colored stones on it," and the face of the ring... had an inscription of... the Virgin Mary." No gun was found during that search.

The police did not locate the defendant that night,10 but apprehended him several days later on February 26, 1997. He posted a bond, and his trial was eventually set to begin on April 21, 1998.

In March, 1998, while the defendant was still out on bond, Elliot was with her mother in her mother's car on Glade Street when the defendant approached the car. He apologized to "her for sticking [Russell] up when [she] was with him," and he told her that "he wanted to be friends" and that "he was stupid for doing it."11 Later, on April 20, 1998, after Russell had been subpoenaed to attend court on that day, which was when the defendant's trial was scheduled to commence, the defendant pulled up in a car as Russell was coming out of his house. The defendant got out and started to speak with Russell. After Russell told him that he had been subpoenaed, the defendant "asked him not to go to court and if [he] did to give a false statement." He also told Russell that "if [Russell] [needed] any money, he [would] give it to [him] and anything [he] wanted or needed or whatever." Russell rejected the defendant's offer. The next day, Russell told Joseph Zampano of the state's attorney's office about this incident.

On the day that the defendant had approached Russell, i.e., April 20, 1998, the defendant called Elliot's mother and told her that he knew that she and Elliot had been subpoenaed to go to court the next day. He talked to her about their not saying they were sure it was him, and he wanted to know if Elliot had talked to the state's attorney. She said that Elliot had spoken with the state's attorney. He then wanted to know what Elliot had told the state's attorney, and her mother said that she did not know. The defendant said that he "needed" to know what she said "so he knew what he would be walking up against when he came into the courtroom." He went on to say that "it is not like I'm going to do anything to you guys, I just want to know what I am walking up against when I go into the courtroom." Elliot's mother said that she did not know what her daughter had said as she was not in the room with her. The defendant then asked her if Elliot was home because he wanted to speak with her. She replied that Elliot was not home.12 The next day Elliot's mother reported this by telephone to Zampano at the state's attorney's office.

On April 21, 1998, the defendant went to court, but before his case was called for trial, he left the courthouse and did not return. The police found him on May 21, 1998, in New Haven and he was rearrested.13

Our analysis of the defendant's claim of improper restriction of his right of cross-examination is guided by familiar constitutional principles. "It is axiomatic that the defendant is entitled fairly and fully to confront and to cross-examine the witnesses against him. U.S. Const., amends, VI, XIV... Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 318, 94 S. Ct. 1105, 39 L. Ed. 2d 347 (1974); Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 294, 93 S. Ct. 1038, 35 L. Ed. 2d 297 (1973); Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 403-404, 85 S. Ct. 1065, 13 L. Ed. 2d 923 (1965).... The primary interest secured by confrontation is the right to cross-examination; Douglas v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 415, 418, 85 S. Ct. 1074, 13 L. Ed. 2d 934 (1965); and an important function of cross-examination is the exposure of a witness' motivation in testifying. Greene v. McElroy, 360 U.S. 474, 496, 79 S. Ct. 1400, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1377 (1959). Cross-examination to elicit facts tending to show motive, interest, bias and prejudice is a matter of right and may not be unduly restricted. State v. Lubesky, 195 Conn. 475, 481-82, 488 A.2d 1239 (1985). In order to comport with the constitutional standards embodied in the confrontation clause, the trial court must allow a defendant to expose to the jury facts from which [the] jurors, as the sole triers of fact and credibility, could appropriately draw inferences relating to the reliability of the witness. Davis v. Alaska, [supra, 318]; State v. Lubesky, supra, 482." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Beliveau, 237 Conn. 576, 584-85, 678 A.2d 924 (1996).

The United States Supreme Court has stated: "Generally speaking, the Confrontation Clause guarantees an opportunity for effective cross-examination, not cross-examination that is effective in whatever way, and to...

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16 cases
  • State v. Daniel B., 36418.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 5, 2016
    ...draw inferences relating to the reliability of the witness.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Reeves, 57 Conn.App. 337, 346, 748 A.2d 357 (2000). “To establish an abuse of discretion, [the defendant] must show that the restrictions imposed upon [the] cross-exa......
  • State v. Daniel B., AC 36418
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 5, 2016
    ...draw inferences relating to the reliability of the witness." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Reeves, 57 Conn. App. 337, 346, 748 A.2d 357 (2000). "To establish an abuse of discretion, [the defendant] must show that the restrictions imposed upon [the] cross-ex......
  • State v. Errol J., AC 42080
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • September 1, 2020
    ...of cross-examination are within the sound discretion of the trial judge ...." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Reeves , 57 Conn. App. 337, 346, 748 A.2d 357 (2000). This discretion, however, "comes into play only after the defendant has been permitted cross-examination sufficien......
  • State v. Calderon, (AC 23499).
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 6, 2004
    ...burden of establishing the relevance of the offered testimony." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Reeves, 57 Conn. App. 337, 345, 748 A.2d 357 (2000). The proferred testimony was collateral to the issues in this criminal case. A retrial of the ongoing family di......
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