STATE v. EUGENE EDWARDS, JR., SC 19735

Judicial District of New Britain

 

†††† †Criminal; Whether State Properly Permitted to Introduce Cell Phone Evidence in Attempting to Establish Defendantís Location at Time of Crime.† The state charged the defendant with several crimes in connection with the robbery of an elderly woman.† At trial, the state sought to introduce the defendantís cell phone records and the testimony of a police detective, Christopher Morris, in order to establish that at the time of the robbery, the defendantís cell phone had connected to a cell phone tower that was in the vicinity of the location where the robbery occurred.† The defendant sought to preclude the admission of the cell phone evidence, arguing that it was irrelevant, misleading, and based on inaccurate scientific methods.† He maintained that because a variety of factors may prevent a cell phone from connecting with the nearest cell phone tower, the stateís cell phone evidence was not a reliable basis for establishing his location at the time of the robbery.† Pursuant to State v. Porter, 241 Conn. 57 (1997), the defendant requested a hearing at which the state would be required to establish that the evidence constituted an accurate indicator of the defendantís location at the time that the crime occurred.† After the Porter hearing, the trial court ruled that the state had met its burden of establishing the reliability of the proffered evidence and that Morris had the training and experience to competently testify regarding how cell phone towers connect to cell phones.† It also determined that the defendantís concerns regarding the factors that might cause a cell phone to fail to connect with the closest tower went to the weight of the evidence, rather than its admissibility.† Accordingly, the court admitted the cell phone records and permitted Morris to testify regarding his interpretation and use of the data.† It also admitted Morrisí maps depicting the relevant cell phone towers and their coverage areas.† The state also sought to introduce statements that the defendant had made at the police station and during a search of his residence. †The defendant moved to suppress the statements, arguing that they were inadmissible because the police did not inform him of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).† The trial court denied the motion, finding that the defendant was free to leave during the search of his residence, and therefore that he was not ďin custodyĒ as required by Miranda.† The court further found that the statements that the defendant made at the police station were not the product of an interrogation under Miranda because he was merely asked biographical questions that were not intended to elicit incriminating responses.† The defendant was convicted of home invasion, robbery in the first degree, and assault of a victim over sixty years old, and he appeals. The defendant argues that the state failed to prove that he was the perpetrator of the crimes and that the trial court erred in admitting the cell phone evidence and in denying his motion to suppress the statements he gave to the police.