September 12, 2016
Jennifer B. Smith, for the appellant (defendant).
Melissa Patterson, assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and
John F. Fahey and Michele C. Lukban, senior assistant
state's attorneys, for the appellee (state).
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald,
Espinosa and Robinson, Js.
recent changes to juvenile sentencing law, a court may not
sentence a juvenile who has been convicted of murder to life
imprisonment without parole unless the court considers
mitigating factors associated with the juvenile's young
age at the time of the crime. In the present appeal, we must
determine how these changes in juvenile sentencing law impact
individuals who were sentenced before the changes occurred.
The defendant, Melvin Delgado, was sentenced to sixty-five
years imprisonment without parole in 1996 for crimes that he
committed when he was sixteen years old. Although he is now
eligible for parole following the passage of No. 15-84 of the
2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84),  he filed a motion to correct his
allegedly illegal sentence, claiming that he is entitled to
be resentenced because the judge who sentenced him failed to
consider youth related mitigating factors. The trial court
rejected the defendant's claim and dismissed his motion
to correct, and the defendant has appealed to this court. We
affirm the trial court's dismissal of the motion to
following facts and procedural history are relevant to the
present appeal. The defendant was convicted of accessory to
murder in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-54a
and 53a-8, and commission of a class A, B or C felony with a
firearm in violation of General Statutes § 53-202k. On
December 16, 1996, the trial court, Corrigan,
J., rendered judgment sentencing the defendant to a
total effective sentence of sixty-five years imprisonment
without parole. On appeal, this court affirmed the judgment
with respect to the murder conviction but vacated the
judgment with respect to the weapons charge. State v.
Delgado, 247 Conn. 616, 634, 725 A.2d 306 (1999). The
facts underlying the defendant's conviction are set forth
in that decision.
2014, the defendant filed a motion to correct his sentence
pursuant to Practice Book § 43-22,  contending that a
prison term that is equivalent to life imprisonment without
parole constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation
of the eighth amendment to the United States constitution and
article first, §§ 8 and 9, of the Connecticut
constitution. The defendant further argued that his
sentence was illegal because he had not been given a
meaningful opportunity for release from prison, and that the
sentence had been imposed in an illegal manner because he was
not afforded an individualized sentencing hearing at which
the court could consider specific mitigating factors
associated with his young age at the time of the crime of
which he was convicted. The trial court, Alexander,
J., did not reach the merits of the motion to
correct but dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction,
from which dismissal the defendant now appeals.
OF JUVENILE SENTENCING LAW
turning to the defendant's claims, we consider recent
changes to juvenile sentencing law that guide our analysis.
As this court explained in State v. Riley, 315 Conn.
637, 110 A.3d 1205 (2015), cert. denied, U.S., 136 S.Ct.
1361, 194 L.Ed.2d 376 (2016), three United States Supreme
Court cases have ‘‘fundamentally altered the
legal landscape for the sentencing of juvenile offenders to
comport with the ban on cruel and unusual punishment under
the eighth amendment to the federal constitution. The court
first barred capital punishment for all juvenile offenders;
Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 575, 125 S.Ct. 1183,
161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005); and then barred life imprisonment
without the possibility of parole for juvenile nonhomicide
offenders. Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48');">560 U.S. 48, , 130
S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825 (2010). Most recently, in
Miller v. Alabama, U.S., 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2460, 183
L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), the court held that mandatory sentencing
schemes that impose a term of life imprisonment without
parole on juvenile homicide offenders, thus precluding
consideration of the offender's youth as mitigating
against such a severe punishment, violate the principle of
proportionate punishment under the eighth
amendment.'' (Footnote omitted.) State v.
Riley, supra, 640. The holding in Miller
‘‘flows from the basic precept of justice that
punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to
both the offender and the offense.'' (Internal
quotation marks omitted.) Miller v. Alabama, supra,
Riley, this court characterized Miller as
standing for two propositions: ‘‘(1) that a
lesser sentence than life without parole must be available
for a juvenile offender; and (2) that the sentencer must
consider age related evidence as mitigation when deciding
whether to irrevocably sentence juvenile offenders to a [term
of life imprisonment, or its equivalent, without
parole].'' State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn.
653. This court therefore concluded that ‘‘the
dictates set forth in Miller may be violated even
when the sentencing authority has discretion to impose a
lesser sentence than life without parole if it fails to give
due weight to evidence that Miller deemed
constitutionally significant before determining that such a
severe punishment is appropriate.'' Id.
Because the record in Riley ‘‘[did] not
clearly reflect that the court considered and gave mitigating
weight to the defendant's youth and its hallmark features
when considering whether to impose the functional equivalent
to life imprisonment without parole, '' we concluded
that the defendant in Riley was entitled to a new
sentencing proceeding. Id., 660-61.
months after Riley was decided, this court concluded
that the required sentencing considerations identified in
Miller applied retroactively in collateral
proceedings. Casiano v. Commissioner of Correction,
317 Conn. 52, 62, 115 A.3d 1031 (2015), cert. denied sub nom.
Semple v. Casiano, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 1364, 194 L.Ed.2d
376 (2016). During the same time frame, the Connecticut
legislature enacted P.A. 15-84. Section 1 of P.A. 15-84,
codified at General Statutes (Supp. 2016) § 54-125a,
ensures that all juveniles who are sentenced to more than ten
years imprisonment are eligible for parole. Section 2 of P.A.
15-84, codified as amended at General Statutes (Supp. 2016)
§ 54-91g, requires a sentencing judge to consider a
juvenile's age and any youth related mitigating factors
before imposing a sentence following a juvenile's
conviction of any class A or class B felony.
the United States Supreme Court decided Montgomery v.
Louisiana, U.S., 136 S.Ct. 718, 736, 193 L.Ed.2d 599
(2016), in which the court concluded that Miller, in
prohibiting a mandatory life sentence without parole for
juvenile offenders, had set forth a substantive rule of
constitutional law that applied retroactively in cases on
collateral review. In Montgomery, the petitioner,
Henry Montgomery, was found ‘‘ ‘guilty
without capital punishment' ''; id., 725; in
connection with a murder he had committed when he was
seventeen years old, and which carried an automatic sentence
of life without parole. Id., 725-26. The United States
Supreme Court, after concluding that Miller
announced a substantive rule of law, noted that
‘‘[g]iving Miller retroactive effect . .
. does not require [s]tates to relitigate sentences, let
alone convictions, in every case [in which] a juvenile
offender received mandatory life without parole. A [s]tate
may remedy a Miller violation by permitting juvenile
homicide offenders to be considered for parole, rather than
by resen-tencing them. . . . Allowing those offenders to be
considered for parole ensures that juveniles whose crimes
reflected only transient immaturity-and who have since
matured-will not be forced to serve a disproportionate
sentence in violation of the [e]ighth [a]mendment. . . .
Those prisoners who have shown an inability to reform will
continue to serve life sentences. The opportunity for release
will be afforded to those who demonstrate the truth of
Miller's central intuition-that children who
commit even heinous crimes are capable of change.''
(Citation omitted.) Id., 736.
recently, the Appellate Court considered the impact of P.A.
15-84 and concluded that, ‘‘for juvenile
offenders who were entitled to be, but were not, sentenced
with consideration of the mitigating factors of youth as
required by Miller, [an opportunity for parole under
P.A. 15-84] offers a constitutionally adequate remedy under
the eighth amendment to those who qualify for parole under
its provisions.'' State v. Williams-Bey, 167
Conn.App. 744, 763, 144 A.3d 467 (2016). ...