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State v. Sienkiewicz

Appellate Court of Connecticut

January 12, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
PAWEL SIENKIEWICZ

         Argued October 7, 2015

          Two part substitute information charging the defendant, in the first part, with the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, and, in the second part, with having previously been convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain, geographical area number fifteen, where the first part of the information was tried to the jury before Baldini, J.; verdict of guilty; thereafter, the defendant was presented to the court, Strackbein, J., on a plea of guilty to the second part of the information; judgment of guilty in accordance with the verdict and the plea, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

          Affirmed.

          SYLLABUS

         Convicted, after a jury trial, of the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, the defendant appealed to this court. Held that the defendant could not prevail on his claim that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a finding that he had operated the motor vehicle, as the fact of operation was established by the cumulative force of the circumstantial evidence: the record indicated that the arresting officer observed the defendant behind the wheel of a vehicle that was stopped at a diagonal angle and partially on a sidewalk, that the hood of the vehicle felt warm to the officer, indicating that it recently had been operated, that the defendant was attempting to start the vehicle when the officer arrived, but the engine would not turn over, and that the officer did not observe anyone else in the vicinity; furthermore, although the vehicle may not have been operational at the time of the defendant's arrest, the jury reasonably could have inferred from the officer's testimony that the defendant recently had driven the vehicle onto the sidewalk before the officer arrived.

         Jodi Zills Gagne, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief, was Charles F. Willson, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

         Jacob L. McChesney, special deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and Elizabeth M. Moseley, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Beach, Alvord and Pellegrino, Js.

          OPINION

Page 1223

         [162 Conn.App. 408] PER CURIAM

         The defendant, Pawel Sienkiewicz, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, in violation [162 Conn.App. 409] of General Statutes § 14-227a (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence presented at trial was not sufficient to support a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to the requisite element that he was operating a motor vehicle. We do not agree, and we affirm the judgment.

         On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On the evening of April 3, 2011, Officer Bruce Moro was on patrol in New Britain and observed a Camaro automobile stopped partially on a sidewalk, at a diagonal angle. Upon getting out of his vehicle, Moro heard the Camaro's engine " cranking over . . . but it wasn't starting." Moro approached the Camaro and observed the defendant seated on the driver's side, behind the steering wheel. The defendant had " glossy eyes . . . [and] a little bit of [a] confused look on his face." Moro leaned in as he asked for the defendant's license, registration, and insurance and noticed that the defendant's speech was " a little slurred." Moro asked the defendant to exit the Camaro. The defendant opened the door and almost fell as he tried to exit. Moro grabbed the defendant and steadied him; as he did so, he smelled the " distinct odor of alcohol." Moro testified that he then walked to the front of the Camaro and touched the hood of the vehicle. The hood was warm. A second officer who had arrived at the

Page 1224

scene administered a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which indicated to the officers that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. The officers arrested the defendant, ...


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