State v. Webb, 14409

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore PETERS; BORDEN; A special public defender was appointed to represent the defendant solely for the purposes of the state's motion. The trial court, Damiani; The trial judge who presided over the defendant's trial in this case, Corrigan; In this
Citation680 A.2d 147,238 Conn. 389
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Daniel WEBB.
Docket NumberNo. 14409,14409
Decision Date30 July 1996

Page 147

680 A.2d 147
238 Conn. 389
STATE of Connecticut
Daniel WEBB.
No. 14409.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued Dec. 1, 1995.
Decided July 30, 1996.

Page 154

[238 Conn. 392] John R. Williams and Norman A. Pattis, New Haven, for appellant (defendant).

Timothy J. Sugrue, Executive Assistant State's Attorney, with whom, on the brief, were James E. Thomas, State's Attorney, Rosita M. Creamer and Dennis J. O'Connor, Senior Assistant State's Attorneys, and Harry Weller, Assistant State's Attorney, for appellee (state).


BORDEN, Justice.

The defendant appeals, following a jury trial, from the judgment of conviction of capital felony in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54b(5), 2 of murder [238 Conn. 393] in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, 3 of felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, 4 of kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-92(a)(2)(A) and (B), 5 of criminal attempt to commit sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-70 6 and 53a-49, 7 and of criminal possession of a pistol

Page 155

or revolver in violation of General Statutes § 53a-217, 8 and from the imposition [238 Conn. 394] of the sentence of death by electrocution. 9

In June, 1991, the defendant, Daniel Webb, was tried before a jury on charges of capital felony, murder, felony murder, kidnapping in the first degree, criminal attempt to commit sexual assault in the first degree, and criminal possession of a pistol or revolver. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts. In July, 1991, the trial court conducted a separate sentencing hearing, pursuant to General Statutes § 53a-46a, 10 before

Page 156

the [238 Conn. 396] same jury. The jury returned a special verdict finding that the state had proved two aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the defendant had not proved a mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence. After the trial court, Corrigan, J., rendered its judgment of conviction in accordance with the jury's verdict, and imposed on the defendant a sentence of death by electrocution, this appeal followed. The defendant raises claims challenging particular actions of the trial court during the guilt and penalty phases of the trial, challenging the constitutionality of various aspects of the capital sentencing statutes, and challenging the constitutionality of the statute providing for mandatory proportionality review by this court of death sentences. We affirm the defendant's conviction on all counts. We also affirm the imposition of the sentence of death.

Subsequent to the defendant's conviction and sentencing, the legislature amended General Statutes § 54-100. 11 The effect of the amendment is to require that [238 Conn. 397] the defendant's death sentence be carried out by means of lethal injection rather than by electrocution. Because the defendant requests the opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of execution by lethal injection, we remand the case to the trial court for a hearing limited to that issue.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On August 24, 1989, the defendant's girlfriend, Rosa Billington, allowed him to borrow her car, a brown Mercury Zephyr bearing the license plate 598-

Page 157

FUT. At approximately noon, the defendant drove Billington's car into the Talcott Plaza parking garage in downtown Hartford. The defendant's finger and palm prints are on a parking stub from the garage, dated August 24, 1989.

The victim worked at the Talcott Plaza building and, as an employee of Connecticut National Bank, she possessed parking privileges in the parking garage. On August 24, 1989, the victim had a lunchtime appointment with a West Hartford real estate agent. She telephoned the real estate agent for directions at 12:05 p.m. At 12:13 p.m., a security camera recorded the victim as [238 Conn. 398] she entered an elevator in the Talcott Plaza building. She never arrived at her appointment.

The defendant abducted the victim at gunpoint from the parking garage, forcing her into his girlfriend's car. Driving for approximately twelve minutes, he took her to Keney Park, which is nearly four miles away from downtown Hartford. At the park, the defendant forcibly removed or forced the victim to remove her shoes, pantyhose and panties. The defendant then attempted to assault the victim sexually. The victim struggled, resulting in rips to her clothing and a scratch to the defendant's face. When she broke free of the defendant and sought to escape, he shot her twice in the back, causing her to fall to the ground. These wounds caused the victim to experience significant hemorrhaging and excruciating pain.

After she was shot, the victim began crawling away from the defendant, screaming as many as six times, "help, help, help, someone please help me, help me." At some point, she began to cough blood. As she crawled away, the defendant returned to Billington's car and drove it to the victim's location. When there, he exited the car and stood in front of her. At that point, as much as three minutes had passed since the defendant had fired the two shots that had struck the victim in the back. The defendant then shot the victim three more times, once in the chest, once in the ear and, finally, point blank in the face. When he shot her the last time, the defendant bent down and held the gun so close to the victim's face that her skin bore stippling from the hot gunpowder. The defendant then returned to the car and drove out of the park.

Three witnesses had heard the gunshots and the victim's screams for help, and had seen the brown car [238 Conn. 399] leaving the park. 12 One of the witnesses, Anthony Bibbins, followed a Mercury Zephyr with the license plate 598-FUT, until it was parked, and during that time he saw the defendant change his shirt. When Bibbins saw a police cruiser speeding toward Keney Park, he returned to the park. Bibbins then led the police to the neighborhood where he had seen the defendant park Billington's car. They found the car parked on the street where Billington lived. Approximately three minutes before the police arrived, Theresa Thomas had observed the defendant, whom she knew, park the car and ride away on a bicycle. Officer Mark Lumpkin, who also knew the defendant, saw him riding a bicycle in the area at approximately the same time.

The police officers who arrived at Keney Park found the victim lying on the ground in a pool of blood. She had been bleeding from her mouth and face, and her clothing was soaked with blood. Her feet and hands were soiled with dirt, and dirt and debris were lodged under her fingernails. Her clothing was torn and her panties, pantyhose and one shoe were found approximately 100 feet from her body. Seven .38 caliber bullet casings were found, six of which were designed for specially enhanced bullets with more power than ordinary .38 caliber ammunition. At least two of the bullets later removed from the victim's body possessed hollow points, which are designed to expand upon contact and cause greater damage to their target than ordinary bullets.

The defendant voluntarily went to Hartford police headquarters in the late afternoon of the day of the murder. There he was arrested and charged with the murder of the victim. After his arrest, the defendant [238 Conn. 400] resisted when police officers attempted to

Page 158

test his hands for gunpowder residue, and the officers were forced to subdue him physically and pry open his hands. Both of the defendant's hands tested positive for lead, one of the three principal elements in gunpowder. Similarly, the outside driver's door handle of Billington's car tested positive for lead, and the inside driver's door handle showed traces of all three principal gunpowder elements, lead, barium and antimony. Fibers removed from the victim's clothing were microscopically similar to fibers taken from the carpet of Billington's car. Hair found inside the car was microscopically indistinguishable from the victim's hair. The victim's fingerprints were discovered on the exterior of the windshield on the passenger side of Billington's car.

On appeal, the defendant raises more than thirty claims that, he asserts, require us to reverse his conviction and the imposition of the death penalty. 13 We address the defendant's claims in six main parts. First, we consider the defendant's facial challenge, under the state constitution, to the constitutionality of the death penalty statutes. Second, we consider the defendant's claims of error during the guilt phase of his trial. Third, we consider the defendant's challenge to the constitutionality of the statutory bifurcated trial procedure for determining guilt and penalty in capital felony cases. Fourth, we consider the defendant's claims of error during the penalty phase of his trial. Fifth, we consider the defendant's claim that this case should be remanded to the trial court in order to allow him to challenge the constitutionality of execution by lethal injection. Sixth, we consider the defendant's challenges to the constitutionality of the mandatory proportionality review statute, and we review the defendant's sentence of death [238 Conn. 401] to determine whether it is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases.



The defendant first claims that the death penalty statutes facially violate the right to due process guaranteed by article first, §§ 8 and 9, of the Connecticut constitution, 14 and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment of the eighth amendment to the United States constitution. 15 We disagree.


State Constitutional Claim

The defendant challenges the facial validity of the death penalty statutes under article first, §§ 8 and 9, of the state constitution. Although...

To continue reading

Request your trial
187 cases
  • State v. Gibbs
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 19, 2000
    ...process. Duren v. Missouri, [supra, 439 U.S. 364] . . . ." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Webb, 238 Conn. 389, 450, 680 A.2d 147 (1996). "[I]n a fair cross section claim, the defendant need not prove intent. [S]ystematic disproportion itself demonstrates an i......
  • State v. King, (SC 15510)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 27, 1999
    ...A.2d 1318 (1994) .... Ellis is by no means an isolated case. We have recognized this heightened review in other cases. See State v. Webb, 238 Conn. 389, 449, 680 A.2d 147 (1996); State v. Medina, 228 Conn. 281, 294, 636 A.2d 351 (1994); State v. Greenfield, 228 Conn. 62, 68-69, 634 A.2d 879......
  • State v. Cushard, SC 19708
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 17, 2018
    ...has an absolute right to self-representation, that right is not self-executing." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Webb , 238 Conn. 389, 429, 680 A.2d 147 (1996). Before a defendant may give up his right to counsel and represent himself, the trial court must be satisfied that his......
  • State v. Breton
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 24, 2003
    ...penalty not be "imposed by the fact finder in a wanton, freakish, aberrant, or wholly arbitrary and capricious manner"; State v. Webb, 238 Conn. 389, 500, 680 A.2d 147 (1996); the claim is of constitutional magnitude. Moreover, we note that the state has not argued that the claim is unrevie......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT