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State v. Linder

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 11, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
WILLIAM LINDER

          Argued November 30, 2016

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New London, geographical area number ten, Newson, J.

          Justine F. Miller, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          James M. Ralls, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael L. Regan, state's attorney, and Sarah Steere, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Mullins and Mihalakos, Js.

          OPINION

          MIHALAKOS, J.

         The defendant, William Linder, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-61 (a) (1) and strangulation in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-64bb (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the defendant was guilty of assault in the third degree and strangulation in the second degree, and (2) the state disproved the defendant's self-defense claim. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In September, 2013, the victim met the defendant at a horse rescue farm where she was a volunteer. At the time, the defendant was living at the horse rescue farm, working to cover his room and board. The defendant and victim became friends, and, around March, 2014, the defendant moved into the victim's residence. The understanding was that the arrangement was temporary.

         On June 27, 2014, while driving from the horse rescue farm to the victim's residence, the victim and the defendant had an argument; the victim was planning to buy a house, and, although the defendant wanted to move into the new house with her, she told him that he could not. Upon arriving at the victim's residence, the victim and the defendant had dinner, and the victim went to bed around 9 p.m. At approximately midnight, however, the victim awoke because of the amount of noise that the defendant was making. When the victim asked the defendant to be quiet, he became louder, and they began to argue. Thereafter, the victim returned to bed, believing that the defendant was going to sleep on the couch, as he had been doing for the past few months.

         The following morning, the victim awoke at approximately 5:30 a.m., at which time she discovered that the defendant was sleeping in her bed. She exited the bedroom to make coffee but, wanting to get to the horse rescue farm early and to wake up the defendant, reentered the bedroom shortly thereafter, whereupon she turned on the lights and jumped on the bed. While jumping on the bed, she grabbed the defendant's arm, began shaking him, and repeatedly told him to ‘‘wake up.'' In response, the defendant sleepily moaned and told the victim to stop. The victim, however, continued to shake the defendant and said, ‘‘how do you like it.'' The defendant then punched the victim in the right eye, causing her to lose consciousness momentarily.

         When she regained consciousness, the victim was lying on her back on the bed with the defendant kneeling over her and asking if she was okay. The victim began to yell and tried to get away from the defendant, but he put both of his hands around her neck and squeezed. After approximately twenty seconds, the defendant released his hold on the victim, and, in an attempt to get away from him, she fell off the bed. When the victim regained her balance, she saw that the defendant was holding her phone, and she insisted that he return it to her so that she could call the police. The defendant handed the victim her phone, and she dialed 911. The time was approximately 5:51 a.m.

         When the police arrived, both the defendant and the victim, who was visually upset and crying, were outside the front of the house. The police handcuffed the defendant, read him his Miranda[1] rights, and questioned him about what had happened. Although the police did not take a formal statement from the defendant because they had determined that he was the primary aggressor, [2]they took a statement from the victim, took photographs of her injuries, and noted any observed injuries.[3]Thereafter, the victim went to the hospital, where an emergency medicine physician diagnosed her with contusions of the face and neck, and a neck strain.

         The defendant was charged with assault in the third degree in violation of § 53a-61 (a) (1), [4] strangulation in the second degree in violation of § 53a-64bb (a), [5] and unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of General Statutes ยง 53a-95. Following the conclusion of the state's case, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on the basis of insufficient evidence, which the court denied. Prior to closing arguments, the defendant renewed his motion for judgment of acquittal, which the court again denied. The defendant then was convicted of assault in the third degree and strangulation in the second degree, but found not guilty of the unlawful restraint charge. The defendant ...


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