STATE v. EUGENE ALPHONZO BRYANT, SC 18147

Judicial District of New London

 

      Criminal; Whether Uncharged Misconduct and Bad Character Evidence Concerning the Defendant was Improperly Admitted; Whether Trial Court Improperly Failed to Cure the Alleged Prejudicial Effect of the Evidence.  The defendant was arrested and charged with, among other things, possession of narcotics.  At trial, a police officer testified about his familiarity with a house to which a police dog tracked the defendant.  The officer testified that he recognized the house because he had participated in the execution of a search and seizure warrant there and that the house was the residence of Timmy Bryant.  There was no evidence that the defendant was involved in the incident or that the defendant and Timmy Bryant were related.  The defendant objected to the testimony on relevancy grounds.  The trial court found that the testimony was relevant to identifying the location of the house.  The court then instructed the state not to question the officer regarding the execution of the warrant and instructed the jury that what happened on the day that the warrant was executed had nothing to do with the defendant.  Another officer testified that he was familiar with the house because he had been there as a member of a vice unit investigation.  When defense counsel objected to the relevancy of that officer's testimony, the court instructed the jury that the officer's prior experience at the house was not part of the trial and did not necessarily involve the defendant.  The court then instructed the jury that there was no evidence to associate the defendant with the prior events at the house and that those events were not part of the defendant's trial.  After being convicted of possession of narcotics, the defendant challenged the admission of the officers' testimony.  The Appellate Court (106 Conn. App. 97) rejected the defendant's argument that the testimony constituted evidence of uncharged misconduct and bad character, finding that the evidence did not implicate the defendant directly.  The Appellate Court concluded, accordingly, that the trial court had not improperly admitted the challenged testimony and, through its instructions to the jury, had not failed to cure its alleged prejudicial effect. The defendant challenges the Appellate Court's decision in this appeal to the Supreme Court.