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State v. Manfredi

Supreme Court of Connecticut

January 30, 1990

STATE of Connecticut
Russell F. MANFREDI.

Argued Nov. 1, 1989.

Page 507

[213 Conn. 501] Michael R. Sheldon, with whom was Todd D. Fernow, Hartford, for appellant (defendant).

Harry Weller, Asst. State's Atty., with whom were John M. Bailey, State's Atty., and, on brief, Herbert Appleton, Asst. State's Atty., and Paul Edwards, student intern, for appellee (state).


[213 Conn. 502] PETERS, Chief Justice.

The dispositive issue in this appeal is the validity of the trial court's orders requiring the defendant to submit to a series of psychiatric examinations Before the defendant filed notice of his intent to rely on the defenses of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. A jury of twelve found the defendant, Russell F. Manfredi, guilty of manslaughter in the first degree, in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55(a)(2), [1] and the court, Corrigan, J., sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of twenty years. The defendant appealed this judgment to the Appellate Court. State v. Manfredi, 17 Conn.App. 602, 555 A.2d 436 (1989). The Appellate Court held that the trial court had erred by ordering the compulsory psychiatric examinations Before the defendant had asserted his mental status defenses, but upheld the defendant's conviction after concluding that the defendant had not been prejudiced by the error. We granted the defendant's petition for certification to appeal from the Appellate Court; State v. Manfredi, 211 Conn. 809, 559 A.2d 1142 (1989); [2] and conclude that the trial court did not err in ordering the defendant to undergo the psychiatric examinations.

[213 Conn. 503] The relevant facts are not in dispute. The victim, Catherine Manfredi, was found dead in her car in West Hartford on March 8, 1985. Although the car had been involved in an accident, the nature of the victim's injuries and her position in the car led the police to conduct further inquiry into the cause of her death. Following an autopsy of the victim, a day long investigation of the car and the home that the defendant and the victim had shared, and an interrogation of the defendant, the defendant was arrested on a warrant charging him with the murder of his wife.

The defendant was arraigned on March 11, 1985. The court, Doyle, J., set bond at $150,000 and barred the defendant from

Page 508

any contact with his children pending further review of the situation. On March 13, 1985, the defendant moved for a modification of his bond. In support of this motion, the defendant presented the testimony of Walter A. Borden, M.D., who had briefly visited the defendant two days Before the hearing. Borden testified that the defendant was "in a state of confusion, emotional confusion, depression, grief, [and] shock," and recommended that "he should be in a psychiatric hospital for a relatively short period of time." Following a hearing, the court, Purtill, J., revised the defendant's bond to include a condition that he enter a hospital for psychiatric treatment and remain at that institution as long as required by his treating physician. The defendant was released on bond and entered John Dempsey Hospital on March 16, 1985.

On March 26, 1985, the state submitted a motion requesting a psychiatric examination of the defendant pursuant to Practice Book § 760 [3] and also requesting [213 Conn. 504] an extension of the court's prior order prohibiting the defendant from seeing or communicating with his children. At the same time, the defendant moved the court to permit communication with his children, and submitted letters from Borden and from Bruce Greyson, M.D., in support of this request. After hearing argument on these motions, the court, E.Y. O'Connell, J., ordered the defendant to submit to a psychiatric examination by Peter Zeman, M.D. In its ruling on the motion, the court noted that the examination was appropriate because the defendant had already introduced psychiatric evidence into the case, and because an additional expert opinion might assist the court in deciding upon the motions concerning the defendant's contact with his children and in evaluating the other conditions of his bond. The court also determined, based upon the evidence Before it at that time, that the order prohibiting the defendant from having contact with his children should be extended.

The defendant thereupon moved for a protective order in connection with Zeman's psychiatric examination. Specifically, the defendant requested that: (1) no examinations be conducted without the presence of counsel; (2) the examinations be limited to matters concerning his competency to stand trial; (3) no question be asked of him relating to the events surrounding the death of his wife; and (4) any matters of substance elicited from him not be communicated to anyone other than himself or his counsel. The court, E.Y. O'Connell, J., denied the motion, noting that, although the defendant had not yet filed notice of intent to rely on a defense of mental disease or defect, he had already introduced [213 Conn. 505] the "psychiatric aspect of the case" by presenting the testimony of Borden and the letters from Borden and Greyson. The court therefore concluded that "fairness, equity and justice required that the state be able to also have an examination in order that it could make certain representations and know where it was going with the case."

In accordance with the trial court's order, Zeman began a series of psychiatric examinations of the defendant in April, 1985. When the defendant refused to complete the examination process, the court, E.Y. O'Connell, J., granted the state's motion to compel and, also in response to a request from the state, ordered the defendant to submit to psychological testing. In response, the defendant requested that the court order Zeman not to communicate to the state any information, with the exception of his diagnosis, that he might obtain during his examinations of the defendant. The state indicated that it was not opposed to a protective order that prohibited the

Page 509

state from obtaining substantive evidence concerning the crime. [4] Although the court expressed its reluctance to act on an oral motion since it might later be unclear as to the exact details of an oral ruling, it noted that there was merit to the defendant's request, and invited the defendant to "file such a motion as you deem appropriate and attach a suggestive order to it." Although the defendant filed a written motion the same day, the record does not reflect the trial court's disposition of the motion.

The examination process resumed, with Anne Marie Phillips, a clinical psychologist, conducting the psychological testing of the defendant and Zeman examining him on several additional occasions. In total, Zeman [213 Conn. 506] examined the defendant eight times and Phillips examined him twice (collectively, the prenotice examinations). It was not until nearly one year after the prenotice examinations had been conducted that the defendant filed notice, pursuant to Practice Book §§ 758 and 759, [5] of his intention to raise the defenses of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. Following the filing of this notice, the court, Barall, J., ordered that Zeman conduct an additional psychiatric examination of the defendant. Zeman thereafter examined the defendant on two occasions (the postnotice examinations).

At trial, the defendant took the stand and admitted that he had in fact killed his wife. [6] The defense therefore[213 Conn. 507] focused almost exclusively on his claims of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. In support of those claims, the defendant presented several lay character witnesses to testify that he was not prone to anger, violence, or loss of temper. The defendant also offered extensive testimony from Borden, who had observed the defendant shortly after the crime and had subsequently interviewed him approximately twenty-five times. After describing in great detail the defendant's actions as he understood them, Borden testified that, in his opinion, the defendant had been suffering from a catathymic crisis on March 8, 1985, when he killed his wife. [7] That crisis was arguably

Page 510

triggered by his wife's hitting him with the baseball bat, an episode which revived the defendant's feelings of humiliation, degradation and rage over being hit with a yardstick as a child, with the result that the victim came to represent someone from the past. Borden thus concluded that the defendant had been totally out of control when he struck his wife, having acted directly contrary to his conscious thinking and values.

The state presented both Phillips and Zeman to rebut the defendant's defenses of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. Phillips testified that it was her opinion, based upon a series of psychological examinations that she had administered, that the defendant was probably not suffering from a severe psychological dysfunction, thought disorder, impulse disorder, psychotic [213 Conn. 508] process, hallucinations or delusions on March 7 and March 8, 1985. Zeman testified that the defendant was "in a state of extreme agitation" at the time of his wife's death, and that he was suffering from an adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features, but concluded that he was not suffering from a psychotic disorder. Zeman further testified that it was his opinion that the defendant did not undergo a catathymic crisis. Neither Phillips nor Zeman offered any testimony concerning the facts relating to the defendant's involvement with his wife's death. [8]

Following his conviction, the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, arguing, inter alia, that the trial court had erred in compelling him to submit to the prenotice psychiatric examinations. [9] The Appellate Court concluded that § 760 did not authorize a compulsory examination at the time that the trial court issued its orders because the defendant had not placed his mental status in issue until he asserted the defenses of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. The court went on to conclude, however, that the error was harmless in light of the facts of this case. The court relied in particular on the trial court's finding that the postnotice examinations had not been tainted by the prenotice examinations. In addition, the court noted that there was no evidence that the prenotice and postnotice[213 Conn. 509] examinations had elicited different information, or that the state had used the prenotice examinations to acquire substantive information concerning the alleged crime. Id., § 620. The defendant renews his ...

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