Argued January 6, 2016
Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Cremins, Crawford and Agati, Js.
Deborah G. Stevenson, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).
Sarah Hanna, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state’s attorney, and Cynthia S. Serafini, senior assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).
Beach, Keller and Lavery, Js.
The defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a trial before a three judge court (panel), of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a (a) and tampering with evidence in violation of General Statutes § 53a-155 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that the panel improperly concluded that he had failed to prove his affirmative defense of extreme emotional disturbance by a fair preponderance of the evidence. Because the factual findings and verdict of the panel are supported by the evidence, we affirm the judgment of conviction.
On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the panel reasonably could have found the following facts. The defendant met the victim, Cynthia Cannon, in 2003. At that time, the defendant was living in an apartment. A few months after they met, the victim and her two year old daughter from a prior marriage moved into the defendant’s apartment. In 2004, the defendant and the victim married. Following their marriage, the family moved out of the apartment and into a home that the defendant purchased, secured by a mortgage.
In 2005, the couple began and ended marriage counseling. Later that year, the defendant assaulted the victim while she was pregnant with their son. In October, 2005, shortly after the assault, the victim gave birth to the couple’s son. Following the birth of their son, the couple continued to argue.
In the spring of 2006, the victim had an affair. The defendant learned about the affair by reading the victim’s emails. Three years later, the victim had a second affair, this time with the father of her daughter. Again, the defendant discovered the affair by reading the victim’s emails.
In June, 2009, the defendant lost his job. As a result, the defendant wanted to sell the couple’s house and move into a more affordable apartment. The victim resisted this and the couple stayed in the home. However, the next month the defendant stopped making mortgage payments and the couple’s disagreement on whether to sell the home became the cause of even more arguments.
Instead of paying the mortgage, the defendant used the money from his savings account, a loan, and unemployment income to start three businesses. Initially, the defendant operated all of the businesses from the home. Almost immediately, the businesses began to earn the defendant income. As a result of his improved financial situation, the defendant moved his business out of his home, renting commercial property in December, 2009. Nevertheless, the defendant did not resume making mortgage payments for his and the victim’s home and did nothing to prevent foreclosure proceedings, which commenced in the fall of 2009.
Toward the end of 2009, the victim told the defendant that she wanted a divorce. The defendant did not want a divorce. He believed that they could work out their problems. The victim did not want to work things out and, in early 2010, began sleeping on the couch at night. The victim also took a second job, found a new place to live, and began to pack her belongings into boxes.
After this, the arguments, which had become frequent between the couple, continued. During one of these arguments, in March 2010, the victim told the defendant that she was going to take their son and that the defendant would never see his son again. In a later discussion, however, the couple agreed to allow the court to determine custody of their son, following their divorce. During an ensuing argument the next month-one month before the defendant murdered the victim and concealed her body--the defendant ...