STATE v. VICTOR SMALLS, SC 19014

Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk

 

†††† †Criminal; Whether Appellate Court Properly Applied Concert of Action Doctrine in Concluding that There was Sufficient Evidence to Support Defendantís Conviction of Murder as a Principal or Accessory. The defendant was charged with murder in connection with the fatal shooting of the victim.† At trial, testimony was presented that the defendant and another individual, Jimmy Kave, approached and fired shots at the victim together and that a single nine millimeter bullet hit the victim.† The police found the defendant and Kave inside an apartment near the crime scene.† There, the police recovered a .380 semiautomatic handgun and a nine millimeter Glock handgun.† At the crime scene, the police found four nine millimeter shell casings, four .380 caliber shell casings and one live .380 caliber round.† The bullet that was retrieved from the victimís body was consistent with one having been fired from the recovered nine millimeter handgun.† No fingerprints were found on the guns or the shell casings.† The defendant was convicted of murder and he appealed, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of murder as a principal because there was no evidence that he fired the fatal shot.† He also claimed that there was no evidence to support his conviction as an accessory because there was no proof, as required by General Statutes ß 53a-8 (a), that he intentionally aided another person in the commission of the murder.† The Appellate Court (136 Conn. App. 197) disagreed.† Relying on the analysis of similar claims in State v. Delgado, 247 Conn. 616 (1999), and State v. Diaz, 237 Conn. 518 (1996), the court determined that, although the evidence did not reveal whether it was the defendant or Kave who fired the fatal shot, there was sufficient concert of action between the two to support the accessory allegation and therefore sufficient evidence to support the juryís conclusion that the defendant intentionally contributed to the murder.† On the basis of that determination, the court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendantís conviction of murder as a principal or an accessory.† The Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly applied the concert of action doctrine in concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support the defendantís conviction of murder.