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State v. Leach

Appellate Court of Connecticut

April 26, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
KAREEM LEACH

         Argued January 6, 2016

          Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of assault in the first degree and robbery in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk and tried to the jury before Comerford, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to this court.

          SYLLABUS

         Convicted, after a jury trial, of the crimes of assault in the first degree and robbery in the first degree, the defendant appealed to this court, challenging the trial court's jury instructions.

         Held that the defendant could not prevail on his unpreserved claim that the trial court delivered one-sided jury instructions in favor of the state that deprived him of a fair trial, the defendant having implicitly waived any claim of instructional error: the record indicated that the trial court provided counsel with a written copy of the draft jury charge, which included the challenged instructions, that the court afforded counsel a meaningful opportunity to review the draft charge, that the court solicited comments from counsel regarding changes or modifications to the charge, and that defense counsel did not take a specific exception or object to the court's charge, all of which reflected defense counsel's acquiescence to the charge; furthermore, because the defendant waived his right to raise a claim of instructional error, his claim was not reviewable pursuant to State v. Golding (213 Conn. 233, 567 A.2d 823), as he failed to satisfy the third prong of Golding, and this court declined to invoke its supervisory authority over the administration of justice to review the defendant's claim.

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

         Laurie N. Feldman, special deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were David I. Cohen, state's attorney, and James Bernardi, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Prescott, Mullins and Pellegrino, Js. PELLEGRINO, J. In this opinion the other judges concurred.

          OPINION

          PELLEGRINO, J.

          [165 Conn.App. 29] The defendant, Kareem Leach, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5) and robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2). The defendant claims that the court's jury [165 Conn.App. 30] instructions were one-sided, favoring the state, and deprived him of a fair trial. We conclude that the defendant implicitly waived this unpreserved claim. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On January 13, 2013, the defendant met with his acquaintance, Anthony Jean-Pierre, and proposed that they rob a drug dealer. Jean-Pierre thought that another acquaintance, Leah Socci, would be an easy target because she was a female and unlikely to call the police. Socci received a text message from Jean-Pierre, indicating that he was interested in purchasing an ounce of marijuana. Jean-Pierre designated a meeting place to complete the purchase. Socci's friend, Julian Serrano, agreed to obtain the marijuana and insisted on accompanying Socci to the meeting place. Allison Marucci, another friend of Socci, drove Socci and Serrano to meet Jean-Pierre, with Socci in the front passenger seat and Serrano in the backseat. Upon arriving at the meeting place, Jean-Pierre walked up to the car and joined Serrano in the backseat. Serrano then showed Jean-Pierre the marijuana and indicated the price. Jean-Pierre told Serrano that his cousin was waiting in the parking lot and would complete the purchase. Marucci drove to the parking lot and approached the defendant. Jean-Pierre exited the vehicle, and the defendant entered the backseat with Serrano. As Serrano was preparing the marijuana, the defendant pointed a gun at him and told him to " give it up." As Serrano attempted to push the gun away, the men struggled, and the defendant shot Serrano in the leg, warning him not to move or he would shoot again. The defendant took Serrano's marijuana and money, exited the car, and ran out of sight with Jean-Pierre.

         Socci and Marucci identified Jean-Pierre to the police as the man who had accompanied the defendant. Jean-Pierre was arrested the day after the shooting, and he [165 Conn.App. 31] identified the defendant as the gunman. At trial, Jean-Pierre testified against the defendant with the expectation that he would receive leniency in the current case and another case in exchange for giving truthful testimony.

         The defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree with a deadly weapon and assault in the first degree by means of the discharge of a firearm. The defendant was sentenced to a total effective term of fourteen years imprisonment and six years special parole. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, the defendant claims that the court gave imbalanced jury instructions that (1) warned against sympathy for the defendant but not against sympathy for the victim, (2) instructed the jury that it should not be concerned with the punishment of the accused, but then told the jury that the state is concerned with having " a guilty person punished," (3) instructed the jury that the state is looking for it to act firmly, fairly, and honestly in upholding the law of the land by rendering a guilty verdict, but not by rendering a not guilty verdict, and (4) suggested that the state alone is interested in the safety and well-being of all citizens and in the protection of life and property, and that these interest can only be served by a guilty verdict. The defendant concedes that these specific claims were not preserved. According to the defendant, the court's imbalanced instructions deprived him of a fair trial. The state ...


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