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State v. Leon

Appellate Court of Connecticut

September 8, 2015

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
EDWIN LEON, JR

Argued May 13, 2015

Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of murder and carrying a revolver without a permit, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the jury before Mullarkey, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm and carrying a revolver without a permit, from which the defendant appealed.

SYLLABUS

Convicted of the crimes of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm and carrying a revolver without a permit in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, the defendant appealed, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated when his trial counsel, during closing argument to the jury, conceded the defendant's guilt to certain lesser included offenses without the defendant's consent to do so. On appeal, the defendant sought review pursuant to the test set forth in State v. Golding (213 Conn. 233, 567 A.2d 823) of certain unpreserved claims of constitutional error, which concerned, inter alia, the alleged violation of his right to the effective assistance of counsel. Held that the record was inadequate for appellate review under Golding or the plain error doctrine of the defendant's claim that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by abridging the defendant's rights to plead not guilty, to testify and to have the state prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by suggesting during closing argument that the defendant's actions may have been reckless, but not intentional, because this court did not know the reasons for defense counsel's decision-making or what tactical decisions were made on the basis of conversations between defense counsel and the defendant, the record was devoid of any indication as to whether there were discussions with the state regarding the lesser included charges, and, absent testimony from defense counsel and the defendant, this court could only speculate as to the strategic considerations and conversations between defense counsel and the defendant that may have induced defense counsel to act as he did; furthermore, because there was no claim that the trial court violated the defendant's sixth amendment right to effective assistance of counsel and our courts have limited review on direct appeal of ineffective assistance of counsel claims to such allegations and only in instances where the record was adequate for review or the issue was one of law, not one of fact that required, as was the case here, a full evidentiary record by way of habeas corpus, this court declined to exercise its supervisory authority over the administration of justice to reverse his conviction.

Mark Rademacher, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Bruce R. Lockwood, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Richard J. Rubino, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

DiPentima, C. J., and Gruendel and Lavery, Js.

OPINION

Page 137

[159 Conn.App. 527] DiPENTIMA, C. J.

The defendant, Edwin Leon, Jr., appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of manslaughter in the first degree [159 Conn.App. 528] with a firearm in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-55 (a) (3) and 53a-55a, and carrying a revolver without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35. On appeal, the defendant claims that his counsel's concession of his guilt to the lesser included offenses during closing argument, without an on-the-record consent, violated his federal and state constitutional rights.[1] We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The following facts, as reasonably could have been found by the jury, are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. The defendant and the victim, Krisann Pouliot, had been in a romantic relationship for three years and lived in the home of Pouliot's mother in East Hartford. On May 19, 2012, after a night of drinking and arguing, the defendant and Pouliot returned home where the defendant fatally shot Pouliot in the neck. The defendant subsequently was arrested and charged in an amended long form information with murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a[2] and

Page 138

carrying a revolver without a permit in violation of § 29-35.

A jury trial began on September 29, 2013, before the court, Mullarkey, J. The defendant testified as to the [159 Conn.App. 529] following. On the night of the shooting, the defendant and Pouliot drank a bottle of champagne before they left home for downtown Hartford at about 10 p.m. While downtown, the defendant and Pouliot each consumed approximately four to five alcoholic beverages. The defendant stated that when he went to downtown Hartford, he regularly carried a revolver due to incidents that had taken place there previously. The defendant did not have a permit to carry a revolver.[3] At some point while at various clubs in Hartford, the defendant and Pouliot began to argue about the attention that the defendant was paying to other women. Later that evening, the defendant and Pouliot drove home, where the defendant took the gun from the car and brought it upstairs. In their shared bedroom, the defendant and Pouliot continued to argue with escalating intensity. At some point, the defendant pushed Pouliot onto the bed, placed his left hand around her neck, and held his gun to ...


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