State v. Boutilier
A ruling on a motion to view the crime scene is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Katie Krantz, Becky Ramos and Yajaira Aponte drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and ingested ecstasy. They returned to the home Krantz shared with Matthew Boutilier. After 1 a.m., Boutilier and Krantz argued. The women walked outside. Boutilier threw Krantz's clothing outside. Ramos yelled at Boutilier, poured beer on him and followed him into the kitchen yelling. Ramos, 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighing 125 pounds, pushed Boutilier, almost six foot tall and weighing more than 200 pounds. Boutilier pulled a gun from a cabinet and shot Ramos in the head, killing her. Aponte reached for a telephone and Boutilier shot her in the chest and hand before fleeing. Aponte survived. Following a jury trial, Boutilier was convicted of assault in the first degree concerning Aponte and criminal possession of a firearm. A mistrial was declared on murder and attempted murder charges as no verdict was reached. During the second trial, Boutilier claimed self defense because he believed Ramos was drug-crazed. The jury found him guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm. He appealed, first claiming that the court improperly denied his requests to allow the jury to view the crime scene. He contended it was important for the jury to understand the kitchen was very cramped when he felt he was being attacked by drunk and high women. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant's motion. The jury had sufficient evidence to allow it to assess the scene of the crime. The record disclosed that the jury had evidence regarding the kitchen's size in the form of testimony, a diagram with uncontested dimensions, a videotape and several photographs. A firsthand view of the kitchen area would have been cumulative and was not necessary or important to understand the issues or the evidence. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial based on the state's improper bolstering of a witness, a jailhouse informant. The trial court struck the witnesses' improper testimony and the jury was presumed to have followed the court's curative instructions.