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State v. Arias

Supreme Court of Connecticut

July 26, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
RAFAEL ARIAS

          Argued April 7, 2016

          Stephan E. Seeger, with whom was Igor Kuperman, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rocco A. Chiarenza, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were David I. Cohen, former state’s attorney, and Paul J. Ferencek, senior assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, McDonald, Espinosa, Robinson and Vertefeuille, Js.

          OPINION

          VERTEFEUILLE, J.

         The defendant, Rafael Arias, was convicted following a jury trial of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (1) and sexual assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-72a. In his appeal, the defendant challenges his conviction on three grounds. First, he claims that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress statements that he made at the police station because he was not advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478–79, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Second, he argues that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of uncharged sexual misconduct under State v. DeJesus, 288 Conn. 418, 476–77, 953 A.2d 45 (2008), to show that he had a propensity to commit aberrant and compulsive sexual misconduct. Finally, the defendant argues that the trial court’s application of this court’s decision in DeJesus and the relevant revision of § 4-5 (b) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence; see footnote 2 of this opinion; violated his right to equal protection of the law under the state and federal constitutions. We disagree with all three claims.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following relevant facts. The defendant managed a dental office and hired the victim, M, as a dental assistant. The defendant began making inappropriate comments to M, saying that he would like to kiss her lips and telling her how pretty she looked. He frequently touched her hair, put his arms around her and asked her out for lunch and dinner. Several months after M started working for the dental practice, the defendant loaned M $400 for car repairs. When M was able to reimburse the defendant, she left a $400 money order on his desk enclosed in a card. After the defendant received the card, he hugged M, thanked her for repaying him and asked her to follow him to his car because he needed to talk to her. M testified that as she and the defendant reached the corridor near the elevator, the defendant pushed her up against the wall and started to kiss her. The defendant put his hand under M’s shirt and grabbed her breasts and put her hand on top of his pants. The defendant then put his hand inside M’s pants and inserted the tip of his finger into her vagina. M eventually broke free and went into the bathroom.

         M contacted the police the following morning. She met with David Hudyma, a detective with the Norwalk Police Department, and gave a written statement. The defendant later made a written statement to Hudyma acknowledging that the sexual contact had occurred, but claiming that it was consensual. The defendant subsequently was arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of sexual assault in the third degree. A jury found the defendant guilty of both counts and the defendant now appeals from the judgment of conviction rendered in accordance with the verdict.[1] Further detailed facts will be set forth as necessary.

         I

         MOTION TO SUPPRESS

         The defendant first claims that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his statements to the police. The following additional facts are relevant to this claim. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress, claiming that his oral and written statements to the police should not be admitted at trial because the police failed to advise him of his Miranda rights. During a hearing on the motion, the state called Hudyma, who testified that he met M the day after the alleged incident and obtained her statements and the defendant’s cell phone number. When Hudyma called the defendant to schedule a time to discuss M’s complaint, the defendant stated that he was already in the lobby of the Norwalk Police Department and that he was ready to discuss M’s complaint. Hudyma met the defendant in the lobby and brought him to an interview room. Hudyma did not handcuff the defendant, tell him that he could not leave or restrain him in any way.

         Hudyma and the defendant discussed the complaint for approximately forty-five minutes. During the conversation, the defendant showed Hudyma a text message on his cell phone. Because the text was in Spanish, another officer took the cell phone for approximately ten minutes to translate the text.

         After the defendant agreed to provide a written statement, Hudyma brought him to a computer to type his statement and then left the room. The defendant testified that he was not aware of any officers being present while he typed his statement. Hudyma emphasized that he did not close or lock the door to the room as the defendant prepared his statement. Immediately after the defendant signed his statement, Hudyma walked him downstairs and the defendant left the police station. In total, the defendant was at the police station for approximately one hour.

         The defendant testified that he went to the police station to discuss M’s allegations, but that he did not expect to be asked questions. The defendant indicated that he had sixteen years of education and had no difficulty with the English language. He further testified that he passed several officers, some of whom were armed, as he walked from the lobby of the police station to the interview room.

         Following the defendant’s testimony, the state argued that the defendant was not in police custody when he gave his oral and written statements. Rather, the defendant ‘‘voluntarily went to the police station to tell his side of the story. . . . There was no compulsion here. . . . He was not locked in a room or forced into any room. He wasn’t forced to give a written statement. He wasn’t forced to speak at all. . . . He was not given . . . warnings [pursuant to Miranda] . . . because . . . he was not in police custody.’’

         Defense counsel responded that when the defendant visited the police station, he did not expect to be ‘‘bar-raged with questions.’’ He claimed that when the defendant found himself in an interview room being questioned by Hudyma, he did not feel that he was free to leave, especially ...


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