October 18, 2016
from Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Sferrazza,
A. Pattis, with whom was Brittany B. Paz, for the appellant
Michael J. Proto, assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, was Kevin T. Kane, chief state's attorney,
for the appellee (respondent).
DiPentima, C. J., and Keller and Calmar, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
petitioner, Beth Ann Carpenter, appeals from the judgment
denying her amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On
appeal, the petitioner claims that the court erred in denying
her claims of ineffective assistance of counsel with respect
to (1) her lost opportunity to pursue a plea bargain and (2)
the exclusion of expert witness testimony regarding
codependency syndrome. We disagree, and affirm the judgment
of the habeas court.
State v. Carpenter, 275 Conn. 785, 882 A.2d
604 (2005), cert. denied, 547 U.S. 1025, 126 S.Ct. 1578, 164
L.Ed.2d 309 (2006), our Supreme Court set forth the following
facts: ‘‘On March 10, 1994, at approximately 7:30
p.m., travelers on Interstate 95 discovered the body of the
victim, Anson B. ‘Buzz' Clinton III, lying in the
roadway of exit seventy-two, known as the Rocky Neck
connector, in the town of East Lyme. The victim had died as a
result of multiple gunshot wounds to his head and upper body.
1992, the victim met the defendant's sister, Kim
Carpenter, at a bar where he performed as an exotic dancer.
At the time, Kim and her two year old daughter, Rebecca
Carpenter, lived with the defendant and their parents,
Richard Carpenter and Cynthia Carpenter, at the
Carpenters' home in Ledyard. Shortly after Kim met the
victim, however, she moved out of the Carpenters' home
and went to live with the victim at his parents' home in
Old Lyme, showing no apparent concern for Rebecca and leaving
her in the care of the Carpenters for significant periods of
Cynthia Carpenter and the defendant, an attorney licensed to
practice law in Connecticut, filed an application in the
Probate Court seeking Kim's removal as guardian of
Rebecca on the ground that Kim had abandoned Rebecca when she
went to live with the victim. Cynthia Carpenter also filed a
separate application for immediate temporary custody of
Rebecca. According to the applications, Rebecca was
develop-mentally delayed and required special care that Kim
was not providing.
October, 1992, the court issued an ex parte order granting
Cynthia Carpenter immediate temporary custody of Rebecca. The
court also appointed a guardian ad litem to represent
Rebecca's interests. In December, 1992, following an
investigation by the department of children and families and
upon the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, the Probate
Court reversed the temporary order and returned guardianship
and custody of Rebecca to Kim after she took certain
court-ordered steps to improve her parenting skills.
January, 1993, Kim married the victim. Throughout that year,
Cynthia Carpenter and the defendant continued to pursue
litigation against Kim and the victim concerning guardianship
of Rebecca and related visitation issues. The defendant was
motivated to assist her mother because she was concerned that
Kim was not providing Rebecca with proper care and attention.
She also believed that the victim was abusive toward Kim and
Rebecca and that Kim was powerless to protect Rebecca from
harm. In addition, she was distressed by reports that the
victim might leave Connecticut with Kim and Rebecca and that
she and the Carpenters no longer would be able to see the
November, 1992, Haiman Clein hired the defendant as an
associate in his law firm, Clein and Frasure. In 1993, the
defendant moved out of her parents' home and into an
apartment in Norwich. At the end of November, 1993, the
defendant, who was thirty years old, and Clein, who was
fifty-two years old, began a torrid affair. Although Clein
was married and the father of four children, he once told the
defendant that a book about sexual obsession entitled
‘Damaged' accurately summed up his feelings about
early December, 1993, the defendant had become so worried
about Rebecca's safety that she asked Clein to kill the
victim. Clein initially refused, but later told the defendant
that he knew someone by the name of Mark Despres who might be
willing to do the job, at which point the defendant
instructed Clein to make the necessary arrangements.
Clein subsequently met with Despres in his New London office,
he explained that he was involved with a woman whose niece
was being abused and that the only way to stop the abuse was
to kill the abuser. After further discussion, Despres agreed
to kill the victim for $8500. The defendant gave Clein the
victim's purported home and work addresses, a description
of the victim's car and a photograph of the victim, all
of which Clein passed on to Despres so that he would be able
to locate and identify the victim. Clein also gave Despres
approximately $2000 toward payment of his fee.
mid-February, 1994, Clein told Despres not to kill the victim
because he was upset with the defendant and no longer wanted
to help her. Although the defendant initially appeared to
accept Clein's decision, she came to him three or four
weeks later in a state of hysteria after hearing from her
family that Rebecca had a burn mark on her back and had been
locked in the cellar by the victim. In light of these alleged
events, the defendant told Clein that she wanted the victim
killed and would be willing to pay for it herself.
following day, Clein invited Despres to his New London office
and asked him to proceed with the killing. Despres indicated
that he would do as Clein requested for $5500, less than the
agreed upon amount, but that he wanted more money that day.
Clein assented and the two men went to the bank, where Clein
withdrew $1000 and gave it to Despres.
early March, 1994, Despres learned through a newspaper
advertisement that the victim was selling a tow truck.
Despres called the victim, representing himself as a buyer,
and arranged to meet the victim. On March 10, 1994, Despres,
accompanied by his fifteen year old son, Chris Despres, met
the victim in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson's
restaurant on Interstate 95. After a short conversation, the
victim agreed to show the tow truck to Despres, who followed
the victim northbound on the interstate to exit seventy-two.
As they exited, Despres flashed his headlights, causing the
victim to pull over and stop on the shoulder of the roadway.
Despres pulled over directly behind the victim. After the two
men got out of their cars, the victim approached Despres and
asked what was going on. Despres responded that he was
looking for a gas station. He then fired six shots at the
victim. When headlights appeared from behind, Despres jumped
back into his car and sped away to his home, driving over the
body as he fled from the scene. Moments later, the occupants
of the approaching vehicle discovered the victim's body
lying on the roadway and notified the police.
the following morning, Cynthia Carpenter read about the
incident in the newspaper and telephoned the defendant to
inform her of the victim's death. The defendant
immediately called Clein, who rushed to her apartment in
Norwich. When Cynthia Carpenter later called the defendant to
tell her that the Connecticut state police were coming to the
Carpenters' home to question them about the incident, the
defendant and Clein volunteered to come as well. Only after
they answered every question asked by the state police, did
the defendant and Clein depart.
defendant continued her relationship with Clein for the next
eighteen months despite several unsuccessful attempts to end
it. In January, 1995, she resigned from Clein's law firm
to look for another position. Nine months later, she left the
country to begin a new job in London.
December, 1995, the police issued a warrant for Clein's
arrest and he fled from the state. Thereafter, the defendant
was contacted by Scotland Yard and cooperated with British
and United States law enforcement authorities in apprehending
Clein. Notwithstanding his status as a fugitive, Clein wanted
to stay in touch with the defendant. Accordingly, he and the
defendant arranged to call each other at designated times,
using pay telephone numbers in the United States and London.
The defendant then informed the authorities of the time and
place of the prearranged calls. Clein was arrested in
February, 1996, during one such call from the defendant to a
telephone number in California. Upon his arrest, Clein's
last words to the defendant were: ‘You set me up . . .
Clein's arrest, the defendant went to Dublin, Ireland,
and was accepted into a commercial law program at University
College Dublin. Although she attended courses for about two
weeks, she was unable to continue because she could not
afford the tuition. She thus began working at a local pub to
save the required funds. In November, 1997, the
defendant's plans were thwarted when she was arrested in
connection with the victim's murder and imprisoned in
Ireland for nineteen months.
June, 1999, the defendant waived extradition, was arraigned
in New London Superior Court and was charged with capital
felony, murder as an accessory and conspiracy to commit
murder. After a two month trial, the jury returned a verdict
of guilty on all three counts. The court merged the capital
felony and murder convictions and sentenced the defendant on
those two counts to a term of life imprisonment without the
possibility of release. On the count of conspiracy to commit
murder, the court sentenced the defendant to a term of twenty
years imprisonment to be served concurrently with the
preceding sentence.'' (Footnote omitted.)
Id., 789-94. Our Supreme Court affirmed the judgment
of conviction on direct appeal. Id., 789.
petitioner initiated the present habeas corpus action in
January, 2013, and in her amended petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, the petitioner alleged, inter alia, that she
was unlawfully confined as a result of the ineffective
assistance of her trial counsel, Attorneys Hugh Keefe and
Tara Knight. With respect to those claims, the
petitioner alleged that her trial counsel failed to
adequately (1) counsel her regarding the advantages of