Argued October 14, 2015.
Information charging the defendant with the crime of murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk, where the court, Comerford, J., granted the state's motion to admit certain evidence and denied the defendant's motion to preclude certain evidence; thereafter, the matter was tried to the jury before Comerford, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Beach, Sheldon and Borden, Js., which affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.
The defendant, who was convicted of murder after a jury trial, appealed to the Appellate Court, claiming that the trial court improperly determined that certain statements she made to her then husband, C, were not protected by the statutory (§ 54-84b) marital communications privilege. The defendant had become infatuated with a coworker, S, with whom she developed a sexual relationship. She told S that she was divorced, although she remained married to C. S also established a simultaneous relationship with the victim, R, who also was a coworker living in Stamford and with whom S spent most of his time. During the period of her relationship with S, the defendant concocted a story about a love triangle involving fictional coworkers and regularly recounted the story to C as well as to other friends. The individuals named by the defendant in the story were in actuality the defendant herself, S and R. After R was discovered dead in her apartment, and after S learned of a domestic dispute that occurred in the defendant's condominium resulting in the stabbing of C, S contacted the police, told them of his concurrent relationships with the defendant and R, and informed the police that they should consider the defendant as a suspect in R's death. The police subsequently contacted C regarding the death of R, and he gave them several written statements and the defendant's phone records. C survived his injuries and testified at the defendant's trial for the murder of R. Prior to the trial, the defendant filed a motion in limine, seeking to prevent C's testimony on the basis of the marital communications privilege. The state also filed a motion in limine, requesting a determination that certain statements and actions during the course of the defendant's marriage to C pertaining to the relevant events were admissible evidence. After a hearing on the motions, the trial court ruled that the defendant's statements to C were not made in furtherance of or " induced by the affection, confidence, loyalty and integrity of the marital relationship" as required by § 54-84b (a), and, therefore, that the statements were not protected. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the trial court improperly admitted her statements to C in violation of the marital communications privilege. The Appellate Court concluded that the trial court properly had focused on the nature of the communications and not on the quality of the parties' marriage, and determined that the defendant's statements clearly were intended to deceive C and to enable the defendant's affair with S to continue. Accordingly, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Held that, on the basis of the undisputed facts of this case, the defendant's communications to C fell outside the scope of the marital communications privilege; in order for a communication to be privileged under § 54-84b, the communication must be made to a spouse during a marriage, must be confidential, and must be induced by the affection, confidence, loyalty and integrity of the marital relationship, and the defendant's purpose in making the statements at issue here was to further her extramarital affair with S and to ultimately eliminate R and C, whom she perceived as obstacles to that affair, and thus, those statements were not induced by affection or loyalty as required for application of the marital communications privilege.
Mark Rademacher, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).
Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state's attorney, with whom were James M. Bernardi, supervisory assistant state's attorney, and, on the brief, David I. Cohen, former state's attorney, and Maureen Ornousky, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and Robinson, Js. ROGERS, C. J. In this opinion the other justices concurred.
[320 Conn. 125] ROGERS, C. J.
This certified appeal addresses the scope of the marital communications privilege codified in General Statutes § 54-84b. The defendant, Sheila [320 Conn. 126] Davalloo, was convicted, after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a. The defendant appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming that conviction after concluding that her statements to her husband, Paul Christos, did not fall within the protection of § 54-84b. State v. Davalloo, 153 Conn.App. 419, 436, 449, 101 A.3d 355 (2014). Because we conclude that the defendant's statements were not " induced by the affection, confidence, loyalty and integrity of the marital relationship," as § 54-84b (a) requires, we hold that the statements were not protected by the marital communications privilege. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.
The following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found, and procedural history are relevant to the defendant's claim. This case involves a love triangle that took a deadly turn. The defendant became infatuated with Nelson Sessler, her coworker at Purdue Pharma, Inc., a pharmaceutical company in Stamford. State v. Davalloo, supra, 153 Conn.App. 421. The victim, Anna Lisa Raymundo, also was a fellow Purdue Pharma, Inc., employee and the third member of the love triangle. Id. In late 2000, Sessler met Raymundo at an after work happy hour and, in the summer of 2001, Sessler met the defendant for the first time at another after work happy hour. The defendant told Sessler that she was divorced, although she was still married to Christos. Sessler began separate sexual relationships with both the defendant and Raymundo. Id.
During their relationship, the defendant and Sessler would rendezvous periodically at the defendant and [320 Conn. 127] Christos' condominium unit in Pleasantville, New York. Before Sessler would visit, the defendant would tell Christos that her mentally ill brother was coming over and that Christos should leave and take his belongings with
him because her brother would react badly if he found out that she was married. Id., 421-22. Christos believed this because he had been told by the defendant's parents that the defendant, in fact, had a mentally ill brother. Id., 422.
In the summer of 2002, Sessler focused his attentions on Raymundo, and the two became a couple. Id. Even though Sessler maintained his separate apartment in Stamford, " he spent the majority of [his] time at Raymundo's apartment, located at 123 Harbor Drive, apartment 105, in Stamford. . . . Sessler's relationship with Raymundo continued after Raymundo left Purdue Pharma [Inc.] in 2002 and began a new job at another pharmaceutical company, Pharmacia, in New Jersey. Despite working in New Jersey, Raymundo continued to live at her apartment in Stamford." Id.
Also in 2002, the defendant concocted a story about a love triangle among three fictional coworkers at Purdue Pharma, Inc.: " Melissa," " Jack," and " Anna Lisa." Id. Nearly every day, she recounted the tale to Christos from the perspective of her purported friend " Melissa." Id. In actuality, " Melissa" was the defendant; " Jack" was Sessler; and " Anna Lisa" was Raymundo. Id. The defendant told Christos intimate details about Melissa and Jack including that Melissa was upset when Jack rebuffed her sexual advances. Id., 422-23. Additionally, " [s]he once said that Melissa had discovered Jack's travel plans and had flown to Jack's destination. She then conveniently ran into him at the airport as he was boarding a plane home and sat next to him on the return [320 Conn. 128] flight. The defendant constantly asked Christos for advice 'on behalf' of Melissa with questions such as why Jack was in a relationship with two women and why Jack was cheating on one woman with the other. Christos listened to these stories to 'humor' the defendant.
" Eventually, the defendant told Christos that she 'wanted to go on a stakeout' with Melissa in order to 'spy on Jack.' Although Christos thought the proposed surveillance was 'a little odd,' he did not believe it would actually occur; he gave the defendant a pair of night vision binoculars. The defendant told Christos that she had purchased a lock pick set for Melissa because Melissa wanted to break into Anna Lisa's apartment to look at photographs in order to 'get a sense of the relationship between Jack and Anna Lisa.' The defendant practiced with the lock pick set on the front door of their Pleasantville condominium unit. The defendant also asked Christos for an eavesdropping device that she knew he owned in order to assist Melissa in planting the device in Jack's office so they could listen in on his conversations. Early one morning, the defendant telephoned Christos to inform him that she and Melissa were outside Anna Lisa's apartment and asked Christos if Melissa should confront Anna Lisa. Christos told the defendant that Anna Lisa had a 'right to know her boyfriend is cheating on her . . . .' In time, Christos became 'sick' of the stories of the love triangle and '. . . got angry' with the defendant.
" The defendant also related the story of the love triangle to Emilio Mei and Tammy Mei, friends of the defendant and Christos, to Christos' parents and to 'one or two other friends as well.' The defendant told Tammy [320 Conn. 129] Mei about Melissa '[a]lmost ...