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Robinson v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

August 30, 2016

TYRONE ROBINSON
v.
COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION

          Argued May 24, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Kwak, J.

          David B. Bachman, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Rocco A. Chiarenza, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, and Richard Keenan Greenalch, Jr., deputy assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          Beach, Keller and Harper, Js.

          OPINION

          HARPER, J.

         The petitioner, Tyrone Robinson, appeals following the denial of his petition for certification to appeal from the judgment of the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court (1) abused its discretion when it denied his petition for certification to appeal and (2) improperly concluded that his criminal defense counsel (defense counsel), George Flores and William O’Connor, [1] did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to immediately object or move for a mistrial after a state’s witness testified that the petitioner had refused to speak to police. We conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition for certification to appeal, and, accordingly, dismiss the appeal.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of the petitioner’s claims.[2] In 2008, the petitioner was convicted of the murder of Leonard Lindsay in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a and criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General States § 53a-217 (a) (1). The petitioner elected to have the first count tried by a jury and the second count tried by the court. State v. Robinson, 125 Conn.App. 484, 486, 8 A.3d 1120 (2010), cert. denied, 300 Conn. 911, 12 A.3d 1006 (2011). The core of the state’s case consisted of testimony that the petitioner had confessed to killing the victim to four individuals on separate occasions between October, 2002, and April, 2008. Id., 487. The state also presented evidence that the petitioner had exhibited jealousy and anger toward the victim. Id., 486. The state did not produce a murder weapon, any eyewitnesses to the killing, or any physical forensic evidence connecting the petitioner to the killing.

         The petitioner’s criminal trial included testimony from the lead investigating officer, Detective Jerry Bilbo of the Hartford Police Department, which forms the basis of this appeal. Bilbo testified that the petitioner chose not to speak to police officers following his arrest:

‘‘[The Prosecutor]: When [the petitioner] was arrested, were you called in to speak to him?
‘‘[Bilbo]: Yes, I was.
‘‘[The Prosecutor]: Alright. And did you go see him?
‘‘[Bilbo]: Yes, I did.
‘‘[The Prosecutor]: And did you speak to him?
‘‘[Bilbo]: Yes, I did.
‘‘[The Prosecutor]: Alright. And did he speak to you?
‘‘[Bilbo]: He refused to speak to me.’’

         Defense counsel did not move for a mistrial or otherwise object immediately to this testimony. Rather, defense counsel chose to cross-examine Bilbo regarding the petitioner’s silence and right to remain silent:

‘‘[Defense Counsel]: You said that, when [the petitioner] was arrested, you went to speak to him.
‘‘[Bilbo]: Yes, I did.
‘‘[Defense Counsel]: And you’re aware that he does not have to speak to you if he doesn’t want to. Isn’t that right?
‘‘[Bilbo]: Yes.
***
‘‘[Defense Counsel]: Okay. And you didn’t write in any report or any documentation anywhere that you ever attempted to ...

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