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State v. Rice

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 16, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
TERRANCE L. RICE

          Argued April 7, 2016

         (Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, B. Fischer, J.)

          James R. Vicario, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Jennifer Stevens, certified legal intern, with whom were Harry Weller, senior assistant state’s attorney, and, on the brief, Michael Dearington, state’s attorney, and Jennifer Lindale, assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Beach, Sheldon and Mullins, Js.

          OPINION

          BEACH, J.

         The defendant, Terrance L. Rice, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-95 and breach of peace in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-181 (a) (1). He claims that (1) the state presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and (2) the court violated his right to confrontation by improperly limiting his cross-examination of a state’s witness. We disagree, and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The following facts, as reasonably could have been found by the jury, and procedural history are relevant. On January 3, 2013, at approximately 11 p.m., Gina Phillips-Jackson was waiting for a train at Union Station in New Haven with her husband. She left her belongings with her husband and walked to the women’s restroom. As she approached the restroom, she passed by the defendant, who was drinking from a nearby water fountain. The women’s restroom contained several stalls, including a stall in the back for disabled persons. Phillips-Jackson initially proceeded to the stall in the back, but changed her mind. Turning around to exit the stall, she saw the defendant standing approximately two to three feet away from her. Phillips-Jackson informed the defendant that he was inside the women’s restroom. The defendant responded, in a calm, quiet voice with a flat affect, ‘‘Come here, ’’ and he made a corresponding hand gesture.[1] The defendant then repeated the phrase to her more than once. Phillips-Jackson testified that in that moment she felt ‘‘nervous’’ and looked to the front entrance to the restroom for a way to ‘‘get out.’’

         Without her consent, the defendant ‘‘grabbed’’ Phillips-Jackson’s right hand, though not in a forceful manner, for approximately a second. Immediately she said ‘‘get off me’’; then recoiled and ‘‘sprung around him.’’ In doing so, she lost her balance and fell on her back. The defendant continued to stand near Phillips-Jackson and repeated the phrase ‘‘come here.’’ At one point the defendant tried to quiet Phillips-Jackson by saying, ‘‘Shhh.’’ Phillips-Jackson was in pain, and, screaming loudly, she began to crawl toward the exit using her elbows. Her screams prompted a security guard to come to her assistance.

         Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of § 53a-95, and breach of peace in the second degree in violation of § 53a-181 (a) (1). The court imposed a total effective sentence of five years incarceration. This appeal followed.

         I

         The defendant first claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for unlawful restraint. Specifically, he claims there was insufficient evidence as to the elements of (a) specific intent and (b) actual restraint.[2] We are not persuaded.

         ‘‘In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, we apply a two-part test. First, we construe the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict. Second, we determine whether upon the facts so construed and the inferences reasonably drawn therefrom the [trier of fact] reasonably could have concluded that the cumulative force of the evidence established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . In evaluating evidence, the trier of fact is not required to accept as dispositive those inferences that are consistent with the defendant’s innocence. . . . The trier may draw whatever inferences from the evidence or facts established by the evidence it deems to be reasonable and logical. . . . This does not require that each subordinate conclusion established by or inferred from the evidence, or even from other inferences, be proved beyond a reasonable doubt . . . because this court has held that a [trier’s] factual inferences that support a guilty verdict need only be reasonable.’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Morelli, 293 Conn. 147, 151-52, 976 A.2d 678 (2009).

         Section 53a-95 (a) provides: ‘‘A person is guilty of unlawful restraint in the first degree when he restrains another person under circumstances which expose such other person to a substantial risk of physical injury.’’ ‘‘[T]he hallmark of an unlawful restraint . . . is a restraint.’’ State v.Salamon, 287 Conn. 509, 530, 949 A.2d 1092 (2008). ‘‘ ‘Restrain’ means to restrict a person’s movements intentionally and unlawfully in such a manner as to interfere substantially with his ...


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