State v. Vollhardt

Decision Date16 July 1968
Citation244 A.2d 601,157 Conn. 25
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Phillip H. VOLLHARDT.

A. Robert Gordon, Public Defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Peter W. Gillies, Special Asst. State's Atty., for the appellee (state).


RYAN, Associate Justice.

The defendant was charged in an information in four counts with the crimes of statutory rape, of incest, of indecent assault, and of wilfully and unlawfully causing or permitting a child under the age of sixteen years to be placed in such a situation that her health was likely to be impaired or of committing acts likely to impair the health or morals of the child, all of which crimes were alleged to have been committed upon his daughter. Upon a trial to the jury, the defendant was found guilty on all four counts. The evidence indicated that the defendant's improper relationship with his daughter began when she was ten years old and culminated with the last attack on or about July 24, 1963, when she was fifteen years of age. The defendant's appeal is predicated on certain rulings on evidence centering around the admission into evidence of a conversation between the defendant and his daughter at the state police barracks.

On July 14, 1964, the defendant was taken into custody by police officers while he was at work and was brought by them to the Westbrook barracks. On that same morning, the defendant's daughter went to the Westbrook barracks, where a written statement, previously given by her to the police concerning the defendant's alleged conduct with her, was read to the defendant in her presence. Following this confrontation, the defendant requested a conference with his daughter in a separate room. His request for the conference was based on a prior suggestion made to him by a police officer. The defendant and his daughter were alone in a room, and there was a conversation between them which lasted from twenty minutes to half an hour. When the complaining witness was asked on direct examination to relate the coversation, the defendant interposed an objection, and, at his request, the jury were excused. In the absence of the jury, objection was made on the ground that, if the conversation revealed a confession, a proper foundation would have to be laid before it could be introduced as evidence. The court overruled the objection, and an exception was noted. At this time, the defendant made no claim that the statement was involuntary, nor did he cite any circumstances which would suggest that this was the case. Upon the return of the jury to the courtroom, the witness related the substance of the conversation. She testified that the defendant asked her, for the sake of the family, to say that the charges were untrue. She then said to him: 'Well you did this to me, didn't you?' The defendant replied: 'Yes.'

Later in the trial, it was revealed that the complaining witness had been instructed by a policewoman to attempt to get the defendant to admit that he was having incestuous relations with her. The room in which the conversation between the defendant and his daughter took place was assigned by Joseph M. Hart, a state police lieutenant, is in the upstairs portion of the barracks and is used as a detective office. It adjoins the office where the complainant's statement was read to the defendant and is a short distance away from, but not adjacent to, the office of Lieutenant Hart. It contained a hidden microphone and speaker system. In Hart's office, there was a tape recorder connected to all the rooms in the state police barracks. The tape recorder contained a speaker system through which a recorded conversation could be heard. Three police officers, Lieutenant Hart, Richard K Spencer, a state police detective, and Hamlin Bell, assistant chief of the Clinton police department, went to Hart's office to set up and connect the tape recorder to the detective office. The defendant did not know that the conversation was being recorded or that the police were eavesdropping. The three police officers recorded the conversatin on the tape recorder and listened to the conversation over the speaker. All of them overheard both the daughter's question with regard to the charges against the defendant and the defendant's answer. Although the defendant was in custody at this time, he received no warning of his constitutional rights. He was not warned that he could remain silent and that any statements he made could be used against him.

Subsequently, the state offered as witnesses the three police officers who had overheard the conversation between the defendant and his daughter. When the first of the officers was asked to relate the conversation he had overheard, the defendant objected on the ground, inter alia, that no foundation had been laid as required by No. 126 of the 1963 Public Acts (General Statutes §§ 54-1b, 54-1c). The court sustained the objection and, during the presentation of the state's case in chief, excluded any testimony by the police officers as to what they had heard of the conversation between the defendant and his daughter.

The defendant took the stand in his own behalf and denied that he had any sexual relations with his daughter and asserted that he never committed an indecent assault upon her person. The state in its cross-examination of the defendant sought to inquire as to the content of any conversation he might have had with his daughter during the time they were alone in the detective office at the Westbrook barracks. The defendant objected and, in the absence of the jury, made the claim that he could not be compelled on cross-examination to testify with respect to a confession of the crime unless it was first shown that the confession was voluntary, and he claimed that this rule applied even though the evidence was offered merely as a contradictory statement for the purpose of impeachment. The court then inquired whether it was the defendant's claim that the statement, if made, was involuntary. The defendant replied that he did not claim that the statement was involuntary in that it was extracted from him by force or under some promise of leniency. He claimed that it was involuntary because 'the police set a trap for him and used his daughter as bait' and that, 'to that psychological extent, it is, in itself, involuntary-limiting it to that.' The state's claim was that the inquiry was solely on the question of credibility. The court overruled the objection, and exception was duly noted. The defendant then denied any recollection of the part of the conversation with his daughter wherein she testified that he had admitted having incestuous relations with her. Later during the cross-examination, the defendant was asked whether he recalled having had any conversations with the police officers while at the Westbrook barracks, whereupon the defendant objected on the ground that constitutional safeguards and § 54-1c of the General Statutes had not been complied with prior to the defendant's conversation with his daughter.

At this point the following occurred: 'The Court: Do you make any claim that Mr. Vollhardt asked for an attorney and it was denied him?' The defendant through his counsel replied: 'I haven't made that claim, and I can't.' The objection was overruled, and exception was duly taken. The defendant testified in answer to the question that, while he did talk with Detective Spencer at the barracks, he did not recall the substance of the conversation.

On redirect examination, the defendant was asked whether he had made any statement in the police station in regard to the truth of the charges against him. The state objected and the following occurred: 'The Court: Let me get this straight, counselor. You now want to open the door to inquiry as to what the accused may have said while he was in the police station. Is that correct? Mr. Gordon: I want to open the door to what the accused said when they first read these charges to him because all we have so far is charges are read to you. (sic) Request to go into the other room. What happened there? That is what I am getting at. What happened while the police officers were gathered? The Court: It seems to me it is going to materially prolong the trial, but if that is what you want, I will permit the inquiry to be opened.' The defendant then testified that he had said that he was not guilty.

On completion of the state's recross-examination of the defendant, the defendant moved to strike all of the testimony concerning the conversation between himself and his daughter and between himself and Detective Spencer. The court denied the motion, and an exception was noted.

After the defense had rested, the state in rebuttal presented Detective Spencer as a witness to testify to the conversation between the defendant and his daughter which he overheard while listening to the speaker system in the office of Lieutenant Hart. The defendant objected on the ground that, since the testimony of the defendant was limited to his statement at the confrontation as opposed to the conversation which took place between himself and his daughter in the detective office, any attempt to admit the latter conversation through the testimony of the police officers who overheard it would be subject to the same objections made previously to the testimony of the complainant and the cross-examination of the defendant. The objection was overruled, and the witness testified in substance that he heard the defendant's daughter ask the defendant if he denied the charges against him and that the defendant answered 'No.' Two other police officers testified to the same ffect. The defendant's objections on the same ground were overruled by the court, and exceptions were noted.

The defendant, in his brief, urges that his oral confession was involuntary and should have been excluded. When the state sought to elicit the...

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18 cases
  • State v. Stankowski
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • November 16, 1981
    ...v. Hawthorne, 176 Conn. 367, 370, 407 A.2d 1001 (1978); State v. Staples, supra, 175 Conn. 406-407, 399 A.2d 1269; State v. Vollhardt, 157 Conn. 25, 34, 244 A.2d 601 (1968). "The issue of whether a confession is voluntary and admissible is, in the first instance, one of fact for determinati......
  • State v. Derrico
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1980
    ...The state is required to prove voluntariness as a prerequisite to the admissibility of a confession in any case." State v. Vollhardt, 157 Conn. 25, 34, 244 A.2d 601, 605 (1968). In meeting that burden, the state need only prove voluntariness by a preponderance of the evidence, and need not ......
  • State v. Piorkowski
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 19, 1996 law, except in the armed forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger."10 See State v. Vollhardt, 157 Conn. 25, 244 A.2d 601 (1968) (intent of statute is not to render inadmissible any confession obtained prior to waiver of rights, but is to ensure tha......
  • State v. Cobbs
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • March 7, 1973
    ...Darwin, 155 Conn. 124, 133, 230 A.2d 573, rev'd on other grounds, 391 U.S. 346, 88 S.Ct. 1488, 20 L.Ed.2d 630; see also State v. Vollhardt, 157 Conn. 25, 39, 244 A.2d 601. The second ground of objection is that the defendant was not given the proper warnings of his constitutional rights. On......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The Rise, Decline, and Fall (?) of Miranda
    • United States
    • University of Washington School of Law University of Washington Law Review No. 87-4, June 2018
    • Invalid date
    ...of the McNabb-Mallory Rule, 72 J. CRIM. L. AND CRIMINOLOGY 204 (1981). 351. The Connecticut statute is discussed in State v. Vollhardt, 244 A.2d 601, 607 (Conn. 352. Friendly, supra note 195, at 711-12. 353. See Kamisar, supra note 39, at 893. 354. See id. at 894. One reason the House may h......

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