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State v. Carter

Supreme Court of Connecticut

March 8, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
JAMES P. CARTER, JR

         Argued November 4, 2015.

          Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of murder and criminal violation of a restraining order, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain and tried to the jury before D'Addabbo, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed; thereafter, the Appellate Court, Bear, Keller and Pellegrino, Js., affirmed the trial court's judgment, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

         Glenn W. Falk, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

         Margaret Gaffney Radionovas, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and Paul N. Rotiroti, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald and Robinson, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

          The defendant, James P. Carter, Jr., was convicted, following a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a and criminal violation of a restraining order in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 53a-223b (a) (1) (A) (2) (D),[1] for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend, Tiana Notice (victim), [320 Conn. 565] on February 14, 2009. The defendant appealed from the trial court's judgment, claiming that his conviction of criminal violation of a restraining order was improper because the state adduced insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had violated § 53a-223b (a) (1) (A) (2) (D).[2] Specifically,

Page 730

the defendant contended that the state had failed to prove that a restraining order was in effect on the date of the crime, that such an order prohibited him from assaulting the victim, and that he had knowledge of the terms of that order insofar as it imposed that prohibition. State v. Carter, 151 Conn.App. 527, 532, 534-35, 95 A.3d 1201 (2014).

         The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment of conviction. Id., 529. It concluded that, although the state had proffered only the ex parte restraining order issued on January 8, 2009, which would have expired by its terms on January 16, 2009; id., 529-30; there was a reasonable evidentiary basis for the jury to infer that another order had been issued that was in effect on the date of the crimes.[3] Id., 535. The Appellate Court cited statements [320 Conn. 566] by the defendant on the day of the crimes admitting that there was a restraining order in effect, as well as a statement and actions by the police indicating that such an order was in effect. Id., 535-36. As to the terms of that order, the Appellate Court referred to the ex parte order, which, inter alia, barred the defendant from contacting or assaulting the victim, and reasoned that, because the defendant had continued to engage in the same conduct that had given rise to the ex parte order (unwanted communication with the victim) after issuance of that order, it would be reasonable to infer that the subsequent order would have imposed the same terms as the ex parte order. Id., 536-37. Finally, as to the defendant's knowledge of the terms of the order, including a prohibition on assaulting the victim, the Appellate Court relied on the defendant's statements to the police that he knew that there was a " full" restraining order against him and that he knew that he could not send the victim anything. Id., 535-36.

         The defendant filed a petition for certification to appeal to this court, contending that review was warranted because the Appellate Court's decision contravened the best evidence rule and case law holding that evidence other than an original document is insufficient proof when the effective date and terms of that document are at issue. We granted the defendant's petition, limited to the following issue: " Did the Appellate Court properly conclude that there was sufficient evidence of a restraining order in effect that prohibited the defendant from assaulting the victim?" State v. Carter, 314 Conn. 915, 100 A.3d 850 (2014).

         After having read the record and the parties' appellate briefs and after having considered their oral arguments, we have determined that certification of this matter was improvidently granted. The defendant no longer advances the broad proposition asserted in his petition for certification; indeed, at oral argument, he conceded [320 Conn. 567] that an original restraining order would not necessarily be required evidence in every case if other testimonial

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and documentary evidence provided a sufficient basis to prove the document's terms beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, he contends that the Appellate Court's conclusion was too speculative in light of the evidence proffered in the present case. In light of the shift in the defendant's focus, we conclude that certification was improvidently ...


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