April 18, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain,
A. Vanderhoof, assigned counsel, for the appellant
E. Silverio, certified legal intern, with whom were Harry
Weller, senior assistant state's attorney, and, on the
brief, Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and Brett J.
Salafia, senior assistant state's attorney, for the
Sheldon, Prescott and Mihalakos, Js.
defendant, Guillermo Balbuena, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of conspiracy to
commit murder in violation of General Statutes §§
53a-48 and 53a-54a. On appeal, the defendant claims that the
court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal.
We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On
January 8, 2011, the victim, Erick Cruz, was at his
aunt's home in New Britain for a Three Kings Day
celebration. While the victim and his family were
celebrating, the defendant, his brothers Yair Balbuena and
Mario Balbuena, and three other individuals arrived at the
scene in two vehicles. Upon their arrival, the
defendant's group began to vandalize a car belonging to
the victim's brother, Mario Cruz, who was also at the
Three Kings Day celebration. After receiving a call from
Cruz, the victim and his cousin, Marcelino Bermejo, ran
downstairs and emerged from the building, whereupon they
encountered the defendant's group.
defendant and his five cohorts advanced on the victim. In
response to the group's advance, the victim began to back
away toward a garage located behind the building and urged
Bermejo to call the police. Bermejo ran back into his
aunt's home to make the telephone call. The
defendant's group brandished weapons, which included two
guns and three knives, and said to the victim that they were
going to kill him, and asked him, ‘‘how does it
feel to have a pistol in your face?'' The group
pursued the victim around a car, around the garage, and back
into the street. Members of the group then shot at the
victim multiple times, and one of the shots struck the victim
in the neck, exiting through his jaw.
Bermejo, a cousin of the victim and sister of Marcelino
Bermejo, was in a building across the street when she heard a
gunshot. In response to the noise, she stepped onto the
second floor porch and lay on her stomach where she could
look through a gap between the floor and the solid railing.
From her location on the porch, Santa Bermejo was able to
observe and identify the defendant and his two brothers. She
also saw the defendant shoot at the victim. Once the
defendant and his cohorts fled, she went onto the street.
Shortly thereafter, Marcelino Bermejo and Santa Bermejo found
the victim lying on the ground, bleeding from his wounds. The
police and ambulance arrived, and the victim was taken to
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, where
he was treated for his injuries.
victim gave two statements to the police following the
incident, one at the hospital on January 13, 2011, and one at
the New Britain Police Department on May 18, 2011. On both
occasions, the victim stated that the defendant was one of
the six individuals who had pursued him, that two of the
individuals had guns, and that the defendant's brother,
Mario Balbuena, was the individual who had shot him. The
victim was unclear as to the defendant's exact role in
the pursuit; on January 13, 2011, the victim identified the
defendant as the other individual with a gun, while on May
18, 2011, the victim was uncertain if the defendant had a
defendant was arrested on October 3, 2012, and charged with
criminal attempt to commit murder in violation of General
Statutes §§ 53a-49 (a) (2) and 53a-54a, conspiracy
to commit murder in violation of §§
53a-48 and 53a-54a,  assault in the first degree
in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (1), and
criminal possession of a firearm in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-217 (a) (1). Following a jury trial, the
defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and
acquitted of all other charges. The court subsequently denied
the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal and
sentenced the defendant to eleven years incarceration. The
defendant filed this appeal. Additional facts will be set
forth as necessary.
defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence to
support his conviction for conspiracy to commit murder.
First, the defendant argues that the jury lacked sufficient
evidence to find that he and his coconspirators had entered
into an agreement to kill the victim. Specifically, he
contends that the jury lacked sufficient evidence to find the
existence of a formal or express agreement, of a dispute
between himself and the victim from which the jury reasonably
could have inferred that an implied agreement was made to
kill the victim, or of a swiftly formed agreement between the
defendant and his coconspirators to murder the victim at the
time of the incident. Second, the defendant claims that the
jury lacked sufficient evidence to find that he had the
requisite specific intent to kill the victim. We disagree.
first set forth our standard of review and the relevant law.
‘‘The standard of appellate review of a denial of
a motion for a judgment of acquittal has been settled by
judicial decision. . . . The issue to be determined is
whether the jury could have reasonably concluded, from the
facts established and the reasonable inferences which could
be drawn from those facts, that the cumulative effect was to
establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt . . . . The facts
and the reasonable inferences stemming from the facts must be
given a construction most favorable to sustaining the
jury's verdict.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) State v.Bonner, 110 Conn.App.
621, 636, 955 A.2d 625, cert. denied, 289 Conn. 955, 961 A.2d
421 (2008). ‘‘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
jury 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 ...