State v. Williams, AC 32975

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtLAVINE
Decision Date24 September 2013
PartiesSTATE OF CONNECTICUT v. STANLEY WILLIAMS
Docket NumberAC 32975

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
STANLEY WILLIAMS

AC 32975

COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

Argued May 16, 2012
Officially released September 24, 2013


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Page 2

Lavine, Sheldon and Mihalakos, Js.

(Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of
Waterbury, Crawford, J.)

Lisa A. Vanderhoof, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, was Lisa J. Steele, for the appellant (defendant).

Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's attorney, and Amy Sedensky, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Page 3

Opinion

LAVINE, J. The principal issue in this case concerns the reliability of eyewitness identification. Following oral argument in this court, our Supreme Court decided State v. Guilbert, 306 Conn. 218, 49 A.3d 705 (2012). In Guilbert, our Supreme Court held, among other things,1 that "testimony by a qualified expert on the fallibility of eyewitness identification is admissible under 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), when that testimony would aid the jury in evaluating the state's identification evidence." State v. Guilbert, supra, 221.

The defendant, Stanley Williams, appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of two counts of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (3) and two counts of unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-95 (a).2 The jury also found the defendant guilty of being a persistent dangerous felony offender in violation of General Statutes § 53a-40 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion (1) with respect to its evidentiary rulings by (a) precluding expert testimony pertaining to the reliability of eyewitness identification3 and (b) permitting an optometrist from the Department of Correction (department) to testify as to the defendant's need for eyeglasses, and (2) by denying his motions for reconsideration of the aforementioned rulings and for a new trial. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On May 12, 2009, Satnam Kaur (Kaur), a native of India,4 was working alone at Ideal Package Store on Hill Street in Waterbury (liquor store), which was owned by her husband. Previously, Kaur had worked in another store owned by her husband, which was located on Grove Street in Waterbury. At approximately 6:15 p.m., Kaur was waiting on a customer purchasing lottery tickets when the defendant entered the liquor store. Kaur observed the defendant walk to the rear of the store where containers of Heineken beer were displayed.

After the lottery customer left the liquor store, the defendant called out to Kaur, asking for the price of one bottle of Heineken. Kaur told him the price, and the defendant called out again for the price of a twenty-four pack of Heineken. Kaur left the counter area to assist the defendant because they were the only two people in the store. Kaur wanted to help the defendant because she thought he was old, and she recognized him as a customer who had come into the Grove Street store when she had worked there. When she was approximately three feet from the defendant, she stated the requested price. She looked directly at the defen-

Page 4

dant's face and spoke to him as she would any other customer. The defendant, however, was not looking at her but was watching the lottery customer drive away.

When the lottery customer was gone, the defendant withdrew a large kitchen knife from his clothing,5 grabbed Kaur with his left hand and held the knife to her neck with his right. The defendant pushed Kaur toward the cash register, causing her to fall to the floor. As she fell, Kaur pushed the knife away so it would not cut her neck, but she cut the palm of her left hand and the thumb of her right hand instead. The defendant continued to push Kaur toward the cash register and ordered her to give him the money in the register. Kaur refused and pushed the panic button. The defendant let go of Kaur, opened the lottery cash drawer, took approximately $400 and ran out of the liquor store. Kaur ran after him and grabbed his hood but was unable to hold on. Kaur returned to the store, dialed 911 and waited for the police to arrive. When the police arrived, Kaur was taken to Saint Mary's Hospital, where the lacerations to her hands were sutured. Thereafter, she was taken to the police station, where she provided a signed statement.6

On May 14, 2009, a robbery occurred at the Overstock Outlet (outlet store) on Wolcott Street in Waterbury, where Marlyn DeJesus was working alone. The outlet store sold clothing and other merchandise. When the defendant entered the store, DeJesus was working near the cash register in the front of the store. She recognized the defendant by sight as a regular customer and greeted him, as she did all customers. The defendant went directly to the rear of the store, and DeJesus returned to what she was doing at the counter.

The defendant removed a number of shirts from a rack and took them to the counter. DeJesus was standing approximately one foot away from the defendant and was able to see his face. DeJesus rang up the cost of the shirts and told the defendant how much he owed. Because the defendant just stared at her, DeJesus repeated the cost of the shirts. She then looked down, saw that the defendant's hands were partially concealed inside his sweatshirt and that he was wearing latex gloves. When the defendant withdrew his hands from his sweatshirt, he was holding a knife in his right hand. He grabbed DeJesus with his left hand, placed the knife at her neck and ordered her to open the cash register, which she did. The defendant removed cash from the drawer and asked DeJesus where the rest of the money was. DeJesus told him there was no more money. The defendant threw DeJesus to the floor, held the knife at the back of her neck and told her not to move or he would kill her. As he fled, the defendant took DeJesus' purse. After she heard the door chimes ring, indicating that the defendant had left the outlet store, DeJesus called 911 and locked the door. Two police officers

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arrived at the store. Although she initially was very upset, DeJesus calmed down while the police transported her to the station, where she provided a written statement.

On May 16, 2009, the defendant was apprehended at his residence on Garden Circle in Waterbury, which is located halfway between the liquor store and the outlet store. The defendant was charged in separate informations, in connection with the robberies previously described, with one count in each of robbery in the first degree in violation of § 53a-134 and unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of 53a-95 (a).7 After the state presented its case, the defendant moved orally for judgments of acquittal. The court, Crawford, J., denied the motion. After the court accepted the jury's verdicts of guilty on all four charges, which were returned on July 26, 2010, the defendant filed a motion for reconsideration of his motion to strike testimony related to his need for eyeglasses and a motion for a new trial, which were denied by the court at the time of sentencing. The defendant received a total effective sentence of twenty-five years in the custody of the Commissioner of Correction and thereafter appealed.

I

EVIDENTIARY CLAIMS

The defendant's theory of defense was misidentifica-tion. On appeal, he claims that the court abused its discretion by (1) precluding expert testimony regarding the factors that affect the reliability of eyewitness identification and (2) permitting an optometrist to testify about the defendant's need to wear eyeglasses. We reject both of the defendant's evidentiary claims.

A

Evidentiary Facts

Before addressing the defendant's specific claims, we set forth the procedural history and evidence...

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