State v. Turner

Decision Date18 February 2020
Docket NumberSC 20186
Citation334 Conn. 660,224 A.3d 129
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
Parties STATE of Connecticut v. Tyquan TURNER

Ann M. Parrent, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Mitchell S. Brody, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and David L. Zagaja, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Robinson, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, D'Auria, Mullins, Kahn and Ecker, Js.


In this case, we are asked to determine whether, in light of our recent decision in State v. Edwards , 325 Conn. 97, 156 A.3d 506 (2017), the defendant, Tyquan Turner, is entitled to review of his unpreserved claim that the trial court improperly failed to sua sponte conduct a hearing pursuant to State v. Porter , 241 Conn. 57, 698 A.2d 739 (1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1058, 118 S. Ct. 1384, 140 L. Ed. 2d 645 (1998), before admitting expert testimony regarding cell phone data and corresponding cell tower coverage maps. The defendant seeks review under (1) State v. Golding , 213 Conn. 233, 239–40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), as modified by In re Yasiel R ., 317 Conn. 773, 781, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015), (2) the plain error doctrine; see Practice Book § 60-5 ; and (3) this court's supervisory authority over the administration of justice. We conclude that, because the defendant has failed to establish that any error occurred, he is not entitled to any review of this unpreserved claim. Accordingly, we affirm the Appellate Court's judgment.

The following facts, as set forth by the Appellate Court in State v. Turner , 181 Conn. App. 535, 187 A.3d 454 (2018), and procedural history are relevant to our review of the defendant's claims. On the afternoon of July 13, 2013, the victim, Miguel Rodriguez, was standing on the sidewalk in front of 10-12 Flatbush Avenue in Hartford. Id., at 539, 187 A.3d 454. Two people approached the victim from an open parking lot alongside 10-12 Flatbush Avenue and fired two series of gunshots. Id. Shortly thereafter, the police and emergency response personnel found the victim, who was being tended to by residents of 10 Flatbush Avenue. Id. The victim later was pronounced dead at Hartford Hospital. Id. Although two eyewitnesses gave statements, the victim's family and friends, who were present when the shooting occurred, were unwilling to provide any information about the incident. They did, however, notify the police that the victim was missing a gold chain and a medallion. Id. The gold chain and medallion were later recovered at a pawn shop. Id., at 540, 187 A.3d 454. At about this time, the police also received a phone call from someone who identified as a friend or family member of the victim, and who implicated the defendant in the victim's death. Id. Approximately one month later, while at an intersection in the north end of Hartford, Detective George Watson observed the defendant, who " ‘took off’ " but dropped his cell phone. Id.

Alexandra Colon, the mother of the defendant's child, identified the recovered cell phone as being owned by the defendant, on the basis of a crack in the phone's screen, and provided the police with the phone number associated with the phone. Id., at 541, 187 A.3d 454. "With that number, [the police] confirmed that Sprint Corporation (Sprint) was the defendant's cell phone carrier, and, thereafter, a subpoena was issued, ordering Sprint to produce the defendant's cell phone records from July 13, 2013, the day the homicide occurred, through August 6, 2013, the day the phone was recovered. Sprint's response to the initial subpoena was incomplete and did not include any records for July 13, 2013. The subscription information, however, indicated that the cell phone number was changed on July 14, 2013, the day after the crime, at the request of a person by the name of ‘Patrick.’1 In response to a subsequent subpoena, Sprint produced the cell phone records, associated with that prior phone number, for July 13, 2013.

"[The police then] sent the cell phone records and locations of investigative interest to Andrew Weaver, a sergeant in the Hartford Police Department's special investigations division, who performed a call detail mapping analysis. Weaver input that data into a computer program called Oculus GeoTime, and produced a time lapse video visually representing the movement of the defendant's cell phone between approximately 3:04 and 6:48 p.m. on the day of the crime. Weaver also took screenshots of the video at different times between approximately 3:24 and 5:08 p.m. on the day of the crime." (Footnote added; footnotes omitted.) Id., at 541–43, 187 A.3d 454.

At trial, Weaver and Ray Clark, a custodian of records at Sprint, were called to testify as prosecution witnesses. On direct examination during the state's case, Clark identified the defendant's account subscription information, July 14, 2013 customer service record, and call detail records. Those three documents were admitted into evidence without objection. On cross-examination, Clark testified that the call detail records allow a person to determine where a call was generated and where it ended in relationship to a particular cell site. Clark clarified, however, that "you can't pinpoint and say [the phone] has to have been exactly here. This record simply says it had to have been in the vicinity of this particular cell site at the time the phone call began and, likewise, at the time the phone call ends." Clark explained that a cell phone is within the vicinity of a particular cell site when it is within the range of that cell site, the range being approximately two miles in larger cities like Hartford.

Weaver was called to testify next. The state did not disclose Weaver as an expert witness, although the trial court instructed the jury that he provided expert testimony. Weaver testified that he oversaw computer based investigations of adult and juvenile sexual assaults and missing persons, including cell phone forensics and cell phone mapping (also known as call detail mapping). He testified that he had received training in call detail mapping and had taken courses on geolocating of cell service, which included learning how to map which cell tower a particular call is routed through. He testified that he had undertaken hundreds of hours of training in call detail mapping.

In explaining the process he undertakes to conduct call detail mapping, Weaver testified that first he receives the call detail records from the cell phone company, which usually include information identifying which cell tower was routing the call, the coordinates of the tower, and which side of the tower the call was routed through. He explained that "[m]ost cell towers have ... three sides. [Each side] primarily cover[s] a 120 degree arc. That's the coverage area of the—the antennas. So, you'll have one tower with three antennas on it, 120 degree arc. And that's your 360 degree coverage area." When the cell towers are designed, engineers map the area, determine each tower's coverage area, and then record that information, which is then provided to Weaver through the call detail records. This information is then inputted into a computer program called Oculus GeoTime and results in a map that visually represents the calls over time.

In describing the coverage range of the cell towers, Weaver testified that the towers are built "so they overlap about 51 percent from one tower to the next, the coverage areas. So, [they] have that seamless transmission .... In Hartford, with the amount of cell towers we have, we generally expect to see industry standard. We've got—1.5 miles is the average coverage area." Weaver testified that cell phone calls are routed through the tower that the phone is closest to and has the best signal from. According to Weaver, however, a cell phone would not necessarily have to be within a tower's coverage area to be routed through that tower. He explained that, although towers should not overlap too much, because otherwise there would be interference that would cause dropped calls, there remains some overlap so that, "if you're a little bit farther out [from the coverage area], you [may] still connect with that tower. There might be a better line of sight, or you might have a building in the way and that tower is the best tower as opposed to the one that might be closer to you." Weaver clarified that the cell phone data and subsequent map show only that "the phone itself was in a certain area" but do not establish that a certain person was in a certain area or provide a specific address at which the phone was located.

The maps Weaver generated in this case have an underlying map of the city of Hartford. There are orange pie shaped sections showing the coverage area of the side of the particular tower that the call data records show a particular call was routed through. The maps also identify locations or addresses important to the investigation of the crime at issue. Weaver explained that "[w]hat we do, once we have the towers associated on the map, the program, we add in the data that [come] from the cell phone company about the calls that were made. So, we know at ... 3:24 in the afternoon, that ... the cell phone [at issue] made a call, and it was routed through that pie shaped area. What we do is, the next call is routed through another tower, or it can be the same tower, in which case, you wouldn't show movement [on the map]. So, the—the—the movement is actually just shown of where the cell phone goes over time. So, we move it from the center of one coverage area to the center of the next coverage area. I can't tell you which streets were driven down. The—the only thing we can be 100 percent sure of is, the phone calls were made and that at some point the cell phone traveled between—from one coverage area to the next coverage area."

The maps showed that, at 3:25 p.m. on the day of the shooting, the...

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