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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 18, 2017

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
PATRICK YOUNG

          Argued January 31, 2017

         Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, B. Fischer, J.

          Mary Boehlert, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          James M. Ralls, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patrick Griffin, state's attorney, and John Doyle, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Alvord, Keller and Beach, Js.

         Syllabus

         Convicted, after a jury trial, of the crimes of assault in the first degree and carrying a pistol without a permit in connection with an incident in which the defendant shot the victim, the defendant, whose probation was revoked in connection with his conviction, appealed to this court. The defendant's girlfriend, Z, had stolen a $6500 check, and she and the defendant asked the victim and M to assist them in cashing it. The victim and M were able to obtain $200 by depositing the check into an automated teller machine, but when they notified the defendant, he questioned whether they had received the full amount of the check and kept the remainder of the money. Z and the defendant thereafter picked up the victim and M in Z's car, and the defendant repeatedly questioned them regarding the money. Z drove to a wooded area and stopped the car. The defendant then retrieved a silver .38 caliber revolver from the car's glove compartment, again asked about the money, forced the victim to exit the car, and pointed the revolver at her head. At some point, the victim was able to flee into the woods, and the defendant returned to the car, told M to exit the car, and he and Z drove away. While the victim and M walked down the road to search for help, the defendant emerged from behind some bushes, pointed the revolver at the victim's head, and shot her with multiple bullets. At trial, the court permitted the state to introduce evidence of the names of certain felony convictions of which the defendant, who testified at his trial, previously had been convicted. The court permitted the admission of the evidence only for the purpose of impeaching the defendant's veracity.

         Held:

1. The defendant could not prevail on his claim that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of assault in the first degree because of inconsistencies between the trial testimony of the victim, M and Z, and their statements to the police, there having been ample evidence from which the jury reasonably could have found that the defendant had caused serious physical injury to the victim by means of a deadly weapon and that he had intended to cause such injury: the victim testified and the evidence established that the defendant had pointed a silver revolver at her head, that he had shot her in her hand and that the bullet existed through her wrist, that he had shot her under her arm, near her rib cage, that Z had directed the police to a the location in a marina where the defendant had discarded the revolver, that a silver .38 caliber revolver was recovered in that location, and that a .38 caliber bullet was surgically removed from the victim's torso.
2. There was no merit to the defendant's claim that the trial court had abused its discretion in admitting into evidence the names of certain of his prior felony convictions for the purpose of impeachment; the defendant's prior convictions for larceny and robbery related to his untruthfulness, and, therefore, they were relevant to the jury's evaluation of his veracity, the dissimilar nature of the crimes charged in the present case, as compared to the nature of the prior felony convictions, minimized the chance that the jury would view the prior convictions as propensity evidence, and this court could not conclude that the evidence of those convictions was likely to arouse the emotions of the jurors.
3. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by giving a supplemental charge to the jury in which it named the defendant's prior felony convictions, thereby highlighting those convictions, the charge having protected the defendant from the jury's improper use of his prior convictions as evidence that he had committed the charged crimes: the court, in its supplemental charge, properly instructed the jury that the defendant's prior convictions were to be used only for assessing the defendant's credibility, as the court in its main charge inadvertently had omitted to emphasize to the jury that the convictions were admitted for that limited purpose; moreover, contrary to the defendant's claim, the court did not improperly marshal the evidence by naming the defendant's prior felony convictions in its supplemental charge, as the names of the convictions already were in evidence, and the court's reference to them properly guided the jury in understanding the limitations on how such evidence could be used and, when viewed in context, served to protect the defendant against the improper use of the evidence rather than to highlight adverse evidence.

         Procedural History

         Substitute information, in the first case, charging the defendant with the crimes of assault in the first degree, attempt to commit assault in the first degree, and carrying a pistol without a permit, and substitute information, in the second case, charging the defendant with violation of probation, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven, where the first case was tried to the jury before B. Fischer, J.; thereafter, the court denied the defendant's motion to preclude certain evidence; verdict of guilty of assault in the first degree and carrying a pistol without a permit; subsequently, the second case was tried to the court; judgment in accordance with the verdict and judgment revoking the defendant's probation, from which the defendant filed separate appeals with this court; thereafter, this court consolidated the appeals. Affirmed.

          OPINION

          BEACH, J.

         In this consolidated appeal, the defendant, Patrick Young, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (1) and carrying a pistol without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35, and the judgment revoking his probation. The defendant claims that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for assault in the first degree, (2) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the names of his prior felony convictions, and (3) the court abused its discretion by giving a supplemental charge to the jury in which it named the defendant's prior convictions. We disagree and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         The following facts, as reasonably could have been found by the jury, and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The defendant's girlfriend, Maria Zambrano, worked as a home health care aide and stole a $6500 check from one of her patients. After Zambrano told the defendant about the stolen check, the defendant, who did not have a bank account, approached Diane Turner, his cousin, and Jessica McFadden, Turner's roommate, for assistance in cashing the check. Zambrano, Turner, McFadden, and the defendant rode together in Zambrano's car in order to cash the check. McFadden was unable to cash the check at the first bank that she tried because the check was postdated; the defendant then had Zambrano alter the date on the check. At a second bank, McFadden was able to obtain $200 by depositing the check into an automatic teller machine. The bank later informed McFadden that the check was stolen and that she would be arrested if she did not repay the bank $200. The defendant became angry when he was told that the check would not be cashed for its entire amount. He thought that Turner and McFadden had lied to him, cashed the check, and kept for themselves the full amount of $6500.

         On the night of the following day, June 24, 2013, Zambrano and the defendant picked up Turner and McFadden at their New Haven residence under the guise of driving to Hamden to retrieve $200 so that McFadden could repay the bank. While Zambrano drove, the defendant repeatedly questioned Turner and McFadden about what they did with the $6500 and why they had not given it to him. Zambrano stopped the vehicle on a dark road near a wooded area. The defendant again asked Turner and McFadden about the location of the money. The defendant reached into the car's glove compartment, ...


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