State v. Swinton, (SC 16548).

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Citation847 A.2d 921,268 Conn. 781
Decision Date11 May 2004
Docket Number(SC 16548).

Sullivan, C.J., and Borden, Katz, Palmer and Vertefeuille, Js.

James B. Streeto, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Christopher T. Godialis, assistant state's attorney, with whom were John M. Massameno, senior assistant state's attorney, and, on the brief, Christopher L. Morano, chief state's attorney, John M. Bailey, former chief state's attorney, and Carolyn K. Longstreth, former senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).



The defendant, Alfred Swinton, appeals1 from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of one count of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a.2 The defendant claims on appeal that the trial court improperly: (1) admitted into evidence computer enhanced photographs and computer generated exhibits without a proper foundation; (2) refused to mark a file as a court exhibit for appellate review; (3) failed fully to disclose all relevant material for cross-examination following its in camera review of a witness' out-of-court statements; (4) failed to sequester members of the victim's family who were scheduled to testify as witnesses at trial; and (5) failed to grant the defendant's motion to suppress certain statements that he had made to a fellow inmate while the defendant was incarcerated during trial. In addition, the defendant claims that the state's attorney committed prosecutorial misconduct in his argument to the jury. We reject the defendant's claims and, accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On January 12, 1991, the twenty-eight year old victim, Carla Terry, left her residence for an evening out. She was dressed in a black brassiere, white underwear, a blue shirt, jeans, socks, boots, a white hat, and multiple jackets. The victim's sister, Laverne Terry, had helped the victim adjust the size of the black bra by inserting two safety pins into the right side of the garment. Later that night, the victim encountered Hector Freeman, her neighbor, at the Oakland Terrace Cafe in Hartford. The two proceeded to the Keney Park Cafe, arriving there after 1 a.m. on January 13, 1991. Once inside, Freeman and the victim separated. At some point during the evening, the defendant was seen speaking with the victim. At approximately 2 a.m., Freeman and the victim left the bar together. The defendant left moments thereafter. Freeman gave the victim a ride home. The victim's sister, Rhonda Terry, heard the victim arrive outside of her apartment "[a] little after two" in the morning and, through a window, watched the victim get out of Freeman's car. The victim called out to her sister that she would return shortly and that she was going to stay with her sister that night. She then walked across the street and out of view.

At approximately 4:45 a.m. on January 13, 1991, Officer Michael Matthews of the Hartford police department found the victim's body in a snow bank near the University of Hartford—an area identified as being near one of the defendant's previous addresses. The victim was partially dressed, her undergarments had been removed, and she was wrapped in a brown plastic garbage bag. Paramedics arrived, and after an unsuccessful attempt to revive her, they took the victim to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Edward McDonough, deputy chief medical examiner for the state, conducted an autopsy and concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia by manual strangulation. Taking into account the twenty-seven degree temperature of that evening and early morning, he estimated the time of death as approximately two or three hours before the victim's body arrived at the hospital. McDonough noted bruising on the victim's scalp consistent with blows to the head, as well as abrasions on the victim's neck, and bruising on her face and elsewhere on her body. In particular, McDonough observed and photographed crescent shaped bruises on each of the victim's breasts that he identified as being consistent with bite marks. The bite marks had been inflicted at or near the time of death. McDonough consulted with Lester Luntz, a forensic odontologist,3 regarding the bruises on the victim's breasts. Ultimately, Luntz identified the bruises as bite marks.

On January 19, 1991, following an initial investigation that revealed that the defendant had been in the Keney Park Cafe the night of the victim's murder, Detectives James Rovella and Stephen Kumnick of the Hartford police department interviewed the defendant at his residence in Stafford Springs. The police conducted a second interview approximately one week later at the police station. During interviews with the police, the defendant repeatedly mentioned an altercation that he had had with his former wife and that, even though the police report memorializing the incident stated that he had "choked" her, the defendant claimed that he actually had restrained her instead. Following the second interview, the police sought and obtained several search warrants for the defendant's residence. On March 5, 1991, the police executed a warrant for the defendant's residence, and the common areas of the building were searched with the consent of the building owner. During the course of the search of the common basement area to which the defendant had access, the police found a cardboard box containing a black bra that had holes in the cloth that could have been made by safety pins. Laverne Terry, the victim's sister, who had helped the victim adjust her bra before she went out for the evening, identified it as the same bra the victim had worn on the night of her murder. The police also found brown plastic garbage bags located in a shed behind the defendant's residence, and safety pins in the defendant's van. In addition, the police found a newspaper in the defendant's apartment dated the day of the victim's death, but found no other editions of the newspaper.

Also pursuant to a warrant, Luntz made molds,4 or models, of the defendant's teeth. Following Luntz' death, the molds of the defendant's teeth were retrieved from Luntz' house by the police. These molds were examined later by another forensic odontologist, Constantine Karazulas, who concluded that the defendant had inflicted the bite marks on the victim's body.

Over the next several years,5 the defendant made several incriminating statements. While being transported to get molds of his teeth made, the defendant made comments to Lieutenant Jose Lopez of the Hartford police department that women "bore the seed of. . . evil." The defendant stated that women were always looking for favors and that sex was the only thing women had to offer in exchange for such favors. The defendant told Lopez that someone like the victim had used him for money and for rides, and that women like that "get what they deserve." The defendant labeled these women prostitutes and included the victim in this class. He seemed angry that women had used him in this manner. In June, 1992, the defendant arrived at Benton Auto Body, a towing company and auto body shop that worked in conjunction with the Hartford police department, in order to pick up his van that was to be released to him after a "police hold." The defendant told Ann Fraczek, the manager of the towing company, that he had been accused of biting a woman on the breast and then murdering her. He admitted that he had dated the victim and that she had been in his van. The defendant also stated that the police had "fouled the whole investigation up" and had done a "lousy job." As he was leaving, he told Fraczek that the police had "screwed up so bad they will never catch me now. . . ."

The defendant also made certain incriminating statements during a 1993 interview with Karon Haller, a freelance writer working with Connecticut Magazine.6 The interview took place over dinner and several drinks, and the defendant spoke with Haller concerning the victim's murder, hoping to enlist her help in proving that he was innocent of that crime. During the discussion, the defendant ruminated vaguely over who might have committed the crime, and why. His rumination was interspersed with frequent, and often incoherent, digressions concerning prostitution, sex and drug use, and its peculiar effect on a person's sense of reality. The defendant suggested that the victim was a drug user and a prostitute, and that she might have taken money from the killer and then not fulfilled her promise of sex. He theorized that she probably had offered sex in exchange for money, but then had tried to "skip out" with the money. The defendant's most incriminating remarks came at a particular point in the interview at which he pleaded with Haller for help in his investigation into who murdered the victim, and he offered her all the information that he previously had gathered on the subject. In response, Haller asked whether the killer was going to "do it again." The defendant responded: "Summer's long, and summer's hot." Haller asked: "Why? Why doesn't he just stop?" The defendant answered: "If I knew that, I can stop tomorrow. If I knew that, I would stop tomorrow. . . . So somebody could live."

In addition, on more than one occasion, the defendant declared to various acquaintances that he had "gotten away" with murder. For example, Mary Alice Mills, an admitted drug addict who stole and engaged in prostitution to support her addiction, stated that, in the summer of 1991, while drinking and doing drugs with a group of people, the defendant said he had "got away with killing" the victim, and that he had killed her because "[h]e didn't like women anymore."7 In addition, Cynthia Stallings, also a drug user, stated that the defendant had made derogatory remarks about women in her presence....

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