State v. Woolcock

Citation201 Conn. 605,518 A.2d 1377
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Decision Date23 December 1986
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Eddy E. WOOLCOCK, Jr.

Timothy H. Everett, Bridgeport, with whom, on the brief, were John W. O'Meara, Charles E. Oman and Toby R. Moore, Certified Legal Interns, for appellant (defendant).

Susan C. Marks, Deputy Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were Walter D. Flanagan, State's Atty., Richard Arconti, former Asst. State's Atty., and Karen G. Picker, Legal Intern, for the appellee (state).


ARTHUR H. HEALEY, Associate Justice.

After a trial to the jury, the defendant, Eddy E. Woolcock, Jr., was found guilty of one count of attempted murder in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 and 53a-54a, one count of assault on a peace officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167c(a)(1), and four counts of the sale of a narcotic substance (heroin) in violation of General Statutes § 19-480(a). This appeal followed.

On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred: (1) in depriving him of a fair trial before an impartial jury because it required him to remain in shackles throughout the trial and allowed armed and uniformed state troopers to be present at the trial were there was no reasonable necessity for such extraordinary security measures; (2) in depriving him of a fair trial before an impartial jury under the federal and state constitutions by giving an unexpected preliminary instruction to the jury after the state's first witness was sworn; (3) in instructing the jury that he could be found guilty of assault upon a peace officer in disregard of what it said was "the literal meaning of the statute" involved, General Statutes § 53a-167c(a)(1); and (4) in failing, in violation of the state constitution and Practice Book § 919(3), to inquire personally of the defendant before imposing sentence to ascertain whether he wished to avail himself of his "right" of allocution. 1 We find no error.

Among the facts that the jury could reasonably have found are the following: For several months prior to August, 1982, Bethel police officer Mark Fitzgerald worked undercover with the statewide narcotics task force; his duties included purchasing illegal narcotics from suspected dealers in the Danbury area. Fitzgerald first met the defendant on August 19, 1982, when, accompanied by an informant, he went to the defendant's Danbury apartment and purchased $50 worth of heroin. At that time, the defendant indicated to Fitzgerald that he owned a nine millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun. On three subsequent occasions, August 23, 1982, August 30, 1982, and September 3, 1982, Fitzgerald went alone to the defendant's apartment and on each occasion the defendant sold him heroin for the sums of $50, $25 and $50 respectively.

During the August 30, 1982 meeting, the officer asked the defendant if he still had the handgun. The defendant said that he did. The defendant refused Fitzgerald's offer to buy the gun, but when Fitzgerald asked if the defendant could obtain one for him, the defendant indicated that he could get one for him at "a good price." On September 3, 1982, the defendant told him that he could get him a gun that would not be "traceable" but that it would take "approximately a week's time." On September 13, 1982, the defendant and Fitzgerald again discussed getting a handgun, and the defendant told Fitzgerald to contact him in another week. During that conversation, the officer saw a nine millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun "stuck down in [the defendant's] pant leg on the left side." On September 17, 1982, the defendant told Fitzgerald that he would have a gun for him on September 20, 1982.

At about 8 p.m. on September 20, 1982, Fitzgerald arrived at the defendant's apartment. Cynthia Tollman, the defendant's girlfriend, answered the door and told Fitzgerald that the defendant was probably in the parking lot adjacent to the apartment complex. As Fitzgerald walked toward the parking lot, a woman, Phyllis Jackson, called, "Hey you" to Fitzgerald and upon walking up to him, she said, "Oh, I thought it was you." Although he said nothing, Fitzgerald recognized her as the occupant of a motel room in Bethel where he had executed a search and seizure warrant in 1981. As he continued walking, he heard Tollman call to Jackson. Jackson then walked toward the defendant's apartment. Unable to locate the defendant, Fitzgerald left the area.

About ten or fifteen minutes later, Fitzgerald returned to the parking lot, saw the defendant and asked about the gun. The defendant, who appeared nervous, indicated to him that the "heat was on," that police were in the area. The defendant told Fitzgerald to come back alone at 10 p.m. when it would be dark enough to make the gun transaction.

At approximately 8 p.m., the defendant's father came to the apartment and had a conversation with the defendant. Brian Robinson, Tollman's cousin, was present at the defendant's apartment at that time but he did not hear the conversation. Phyllis Jackson was also at the apartment and, referring to Fitzgerald, said to the defendant: "That cop's a narc," to which the defendant said: "I am going to ice that narc." The defendant thereafter left the apartment. He returned about 10 p.m. and made arrangements for Robinson to meet him at a nearby playground and to take a gun which the defendant would give him to deliver to the defendant's father at the post office. The defendant and Robinson then left, Robinson going to the playground as arranged.

At about 10 p.m., Fitzgerald returned to the parking lot. Fitzgerald got out of his car but the defendant indicated to him to get back inside, which he did. Through the open window on the driver's side of the car, Fitzgerald saw that the defendant had a glove on his right hand. The defendant appeared nervous and said that there were police in the area. After the defendant turned down Fitzgerald's suggestion not "to do the deal," Fitzgerald withdrew the $300 for the gun from his pocket. As he turned toward the defendant, he saw the muzzle of a handgun and a flash. He felt a "very hard slap" to the side of his face and heard "a popping noise" which he recognized as a handgun going off. He realized that he had been shot. He opened the car door on the passenger side, fell to the pavement, then ran to a nearby parking lot where by prearrangement his backup officers were located. They took him to the Danbury Hospital where medical treatment, including surgery, was given. 2

While Robinson was waiting for the defendant at the playground, he heard "a pop." After that, the defendant ran up to Robinson, put the gun in a handkerchief, and gave the gun to Robinson. Robinson put the gun in his pocket. As planned, Robinson took the gun to the post office and gave it to the defendant's father. Approximately thirty minutes later, the defendant was arrested. Subsequently, atomic absorption testing revealed levels of barium and antimony indicative of gunshot residue on the defendant's hands.


We turn first to the claims concerning the retention of shackles on the defendant at his trial and the presence of "armed and uniformed state troopers" at trial for which the defendant maintains there was no reasonable necessity. The defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his pretrial motions that he not be shackled while in the courtroom, that any state troopers in the courtroom be in plain clothes, and that no firearms be permitted in the courtroom. He argues that the trial court's ruling "could have created prejudice in the minds of the jury." He also contends that his constitutional right to appear at his trial clothed with the indicia of innocence was impaired because the record discloses no reasonable necessity for the extraordinary security measures taken. 3 We are not persuaded.

Certain factual circumstances relating to these claims should be set out. On June 7, 1983, just prior to the commencement of the trial, the defendant made certain motions pertaining to courtroom security. Specifically, the defendant requested that he not be shackled, that any state troopers present in the courtroom during the trial be dressed in plain clothes rather than in uniform, and that "firearms not be allowed in the courtroom." The prosecutor, responding to these motions, simply said: "The initial discretion with Mr. Woolcock's record is such there is a security risk and I think appropriate caution should be taken." The court stated that the defendant "will be shackled all of the time he is away from [the Bridgeport Correctional] Center. There is a skirt that has been installed on the tables. Should the jury see the shackles, it will be because Mr. Woolcock caused it to happen and for no other reason. If he chooses to do that he is doing it because of no one else." The court, however, reserved decision on the issue of troopers in the courtroom as well as "firearms being evident."

On June 8, 1983, prior to the presentation of any evidence at the trial, the defendant renewed his motion concerning the presence of any uniformed and armed state troopers in the courtroom. At that time, the prosecutor elaborated on his remarks of the preceding day "concerning the defendant's record and the need for the security." He then said that the record showed a 1979 class C felony of escape from custody which resulted in a sentence to Somers State Prison, as well as a 1977 conviction for assaulting a police officer. The prosecutor pointed out that the escape in question had "occurred in this very courthouse; obviously a relevant consideration and the nature of the charge in this instance." He argued that "all these facts together present a serious risk security-wise and I think the precautions that have been taken are warranted." The defendant repeated his prior claims, maintaining that "sufficient...

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  • State v. McCarthy
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • 18 Enero 2022 to be established by probative evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Woolcock , 201 Conn. 605, 613, 518 A.2d 1377 (1986). Thus, "[i]n order for a criminal defendant to enjoy the maximum benefit of the presumption of innocence, our courts sh......
  • United States v. Starks
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
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    ...concerns regarding the jury's capacity to remember important legal principles before they deliberate. See, e.g. , State v. Woolcock , 201 Conn. 605, 518 A.2d 1377, 1389 (1986) ("While on occasion preinstructions may be necessary and trial judges should not shrink from acting, in the main we......
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    • 12 Agosto 1992 he sat on the witness stand. "[A] defendant's right to appear before the jury unfettered is not absolute. State v. Woolcock, [201 Conn. 605, 613, 518 A.2d 1377 (1986) ]. A trial court may employ a 'reasonable means of restraint' upon a defendant if, exercising its broad discretion in suc......
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