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. Samuel M.

Supreme Court of Connecticut

December 27, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
SAMUEL M. [*]

          Argued October 17, 2016

          Kathryn W. Bare, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patricia M. Froehlich, former state's attorney, and Andrew J. Slitt, assistant state's attorney, for the appellant (state).

          Bryan P. Fiengo, for the appellee (defendant).

          Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald and Robinson, Js.

          OPINION

          ROGERS, C. J.

         In this certified appeal, we are asked to determine whether the state has satisfied its burden to prove that a defendant whose case was automatically transferred from the juvenile docket to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court was at least fourteen years of age at the time he allegedly engaged in the criminal conduct underlying the charged offenses. The defendant, Samuel M., was charged by juvenile information with the crimes of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 and risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21, based on seven incidents involving his minor cousin (victim), which the state alleged to have occurred ‘‘on or about June, 2009.'' Based on the seriousness of the offenses and the allegation that the defendant's criminal conduct occurred in June, 2009, when the defendant was fourteen years old, the case was automatically transferred from the juvenile docket to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court pursuant to General Statutes (Rev. to 2009) § 46b-127 (a).[1] After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in the first degree and one count of risk of injury to a child based on two separate incidents. The Appellate Court vacated the defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court had improperly denied the defendant's post trial motion to dismiss the amended information because the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two incidents had occurred after the defendant's fourteenth birthday. State v. Samuel M., 159 Conn.App. 242, 284-85, 123 A.3d 44 (2015). Because we agree with the Appellate Court that the state did not establish under any burden of proof that the defendant was fourteen years of age at the time he committed the offenses of which he was convicted, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

         On the basis of the evidence, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. The defendant and the victim are first cousins. At all relevant times, the defendant, the victim, and their grandparents lived in houses on the same street in close proximity to each other. The defendant was born on September 17, 1994. The victim was born on December 31, 1998.

         In June, 2009, when the victim attended middle school, he would go to his grandparents' house on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons after school until one of his parents arrived home. On those days, the defendant was also frequently at their grandparents' house. On one occasion, the victim and the defendant went into the woods behind the defendant's home where they stopped near a rock. The defendant forced the victim to remove his clothing and engage in oral sex. The defendant threatened to beat the victim with a baseball bat if he did not comply.

         On another occasion, after taking a bus after school to his grandparents' house, the victim went to his house to complete his chores. The defendant subsequently entered the victim's house using a spare key that was kept at their grandparents' house. The defendant then pushed the victim upstairs to the victim's bedroom. The defendant removed the victim's clothing and forced him to engage in oral and anal sex.

         The victim testified that these incidents, and the five other alleged incidents for which the defendant was not convicted, occurred when the victim was ‘‘nine or ten'' years old. He further testified that the incidents began in the autumn of the year he was in fourth grade and occurred over a period of time with each incident approximately one month apart. The victim testified that in the fall of 2013, the year of the trial, he would be entering his sophomore year of high school.

         The victim's mother testified that during the second half of June, 2009, she discovered a photograph of the victim's penis on her cell phone. When she confronted the victim about the photograph, he disclosed to her that he had had sexual contact with the defendant. After he made this disclosure in June, 2009, the victim and the defendant were never left alone together.

         The following additional facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. After the Connecticut State Police conducted an investigation in 2010, which included a forensic interview of the victim, the state obtained a juvenile arrest warrant for the defendant based on allegations of seven incidents of sexual assault. In the juvenile information/arrest warrant, the defendant was charged with juvenile delinquency on the basis of committing sexual assault in the first degree in violation of § 53a-70, and risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21, in or about June, 2009.[2] The juvenile court automatically transferred the defendant's case to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court pursuant to § 46b-127 (a) (1), because the defendant had been charged with a class A and a class B felony occurring in or about June, 2009, when he was fourteen years of age. Subsequently, the defendant was arraigned in Superior Court on the regular criminal docket. Prior to trial, the state filed an information charging the defendant with seven counts of sexual assault in the first degree by use of force in violation of § 53a-70 (a) (1), seven counts of sexual assault in the first degree for sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of thirteen in violation of § 53a-70 (a) (2), and one count of risk of injury to a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (2).

         During trial, the victim testified in detail regarding seven alleged incidents, each of which formed the basis for violations of both § 53a-70 (a) (1) and (2). At the close of the state's case-in-chief, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal as to all counts. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal on counts eleven and twelve on the ground that the conduct alleged therein did not meet the definition of sexual contact pursuant to § 53a-70. The jury found the defendant not guilty of six counts of sexual assault in the first degree by use of force and three counts of sexual assault in the first degree for sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of thirteen. The jury found the defendant guilty of one count of risk of injury to a child and three counts of sexual assault in the first degree for sexual intercourse with a victim under the age of thirteen.

         The defendant thereafter moved for a judgment of acquittal on the four counts of which he was convicted, and also moved to dismiss the amended information and to transfer his case to the juvenile docket. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal on the sexual assault alleged in count two on the ground that the testimony at trial was insufficient to prove that the incident, which the victim had testified was the first of the seven alleged incidents, occurred ‘‘on or about June, 2009, '' when the defendant unquestionably was fourteen years old. The court found, however, that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the state, reasonably permitted a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that the incidents forming the bases of counts six, ten, and fifteen alleging, respectively, two counts of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child, occurred ‘‘on or about June, 2009, '' and therefore, the court denied the motion for a judgment of acquittal on those counts. The court also denied the defendant's motion to dismiss counts six, ten, and fifteen of the amended information without further analysis. Subsequently, the court sentenced the defendant to a total effective term of five years of incarceration followed by five years of special parole.

         On appeal to the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of any of the charged offenses due to inconsistencies in the victim's testimony at trial and also that the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss based on the state's failure to prove that he committed any of the offenses of which he was convicted after attaining the age of fourteen. State v.Samuel M., supra, 159 Conn.App. 245. The Appellate Court held that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction, but that the trial court had improperly denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. Id., 245-46. Specifically, the Appellate Court held that ‘‘if the statutory age criteria defining the grounds for transfer under § 46b-127 (a) cease to be met, the defendant may not be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced as an adult.'' Id., 264. The Appellate Court went onto state that ‘‘when the state seeks to prosecute and convict a child for felony offenses, the state bears the burden of establishing the child's eligibility to be tried and sentenced as an adult. Thus, to be punishable as a criminal offense in adult court, the offense must be shown to have occurred on or after the defendant's fourteenth birthday, and this must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.'' Id., 268. Looking to the facts of the present case, the Appellate Court concluded that ‘‘[w]hile the original warrant, alleging that the acts occurred in June, 2009, may have been facially sufficient for a mandatory transfer to the regular criminal docket pursuant to § 46b-127 (a), the evidence to support the state's allegations as to the time frame of the defendant's alleged conduct was woefully ...


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.