Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Balbuena

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

September 13, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
GUILLERMO BALBUENA

          Argued April 18, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain, Alander, J.

          Lisa A. Vanderhoof, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Jean 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 appellee (state).

          Sheldon, Prescott and Mihalakos, Js.

          OPINION

          MIHALAKOS, J.

         The 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.

         The 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.

         The 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.[1] 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.

         Santa 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.

         The 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 gun.

         The 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[2] and 53a-54a, [3] 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.

         The 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.

         We 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.