October 25, 2017
Zils Gagne, for the appellant (defendant).
G. Weller, senior assistant state’s attorney, with
whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state’s
attorney, and Ann P. Lawlor, senior assistant state’s
attorney, for the appellee (state).
Alvord, Prescott and Lavery, Js.
defendant, Travis Montana, appeals from the judgment of
conviction rendered after a jury trial, of sexual assault in
the first degree in violation of General Statutes §
53a-70 (a) (2) and risk of injury to a child in violation of
General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2). On appeal, the
defendant claims that (1) the evidence was insufficient to
support his conviction and (2) the court abused its
discretion in excluding third-party culpability evidence. We
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In
2012, the victim, J, was living with her three biological
siblings and her adoptive father in a small room at a motel
in Bridgeport (motel). The room had two beds and two air
mattresses. In January, 2012, when the victim was twelve
years old, the defendant, who was a friend of the family,
moved into the room at the motel with the victim and her
family. At some point, the defendant began sharing a bed with
night while the victim was sleeping, the defendant cut a hole
in the victim’s pajama pants and digitally penetrated
the victim’s vagina. On one other occasion, the
defendant attempted to force the victim to perform fellatio.
On additional occasions, the defendant forced the victim to
engage in vaginal intercourse. The victim’s father, who
was ill and on medication, was ‘‘dead
asleep’’ during the abuse. The last incident
occurred on February 14, 2012. Shortly thereafter, the
defendant moved out of the motel. After the defendant left
the motel, the victim disclosed the abuse to her older sister
and her father. The victim’s father informed the
victim’s physician of the abuse during a physical
examination. The physician contacted the Department of
Children and Families (department), and the case was referred
to the Bridgeport Police Department.
a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict finding the
defendant guilty of sexual assault in the first degree and
risk of injury to a child. The trial court rendered a
judgment of conviction in accordance with the jury’s
verdict and sentenced the defendant to a total effective
sentence of fifteen years incarceration, followed by ten
years special parole. This appeal followed. Additional facts
will be set forth as necessary.
defendant first claims that the state presented insufficient
evidence at trial to support his conviction of sexual assault
in the first degree and risk of injury to a child.
Specifically, the defendant asserts that the state’s
evidence was insufficient because of inconsistencies in the
victim’s testimony. We disagree.
standard of review that we apply to a claim of insufficient
evidence is well established. ‘‘First, we
construe the evidence in the light most favorable to
sustaining the verdict. Second, we determine whether upon the
facts so construed and the inferences reasonably drawn
therefrom the [trier of fact] reasonably could have concluded
that the cumulative force of the evidence established guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . On appeal, we do not ask
whether there is a reasonable view of the evidence that would
support a reasonable hypothesis of innocence. We ask,
instead, whether there is a reasonable view of the evidence
that supports the [trier’s] verdict of
guilty.’’ (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
State v. Tine, 137 Conn.App. 483,
487–88, 48 A.3d 722, cert. denied, 307 Conn. 919, 54
A.3d 562 (2012).
defendant asserts that the state failed to establish his
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt because ‘‘[t]here
were simply too many inconsistencies’’ in the
victim’s testimony and because it was ‘‘not
logical to believe that [the defendant] engaged in these acts
and no one heard or saw anything at the
time.’’ The defendant, essentially, is asking this
court to assess the credibility of the victim’s
testimony and conclude that the state lacked sufficient
evidence as a result of the victim’s lack of
credibility. This we may not do. ‘‘As a reviewing
court, we may not retry the case or pass on the credibility
of witnesses. . . . [W]e must defer to the [finder] of
fact’s assessment of the credibility of the witnesses
that is made on the basis of its firsthand observation of
their conduct, demeanor, and attitude. . . . Credibility
determinations are the exclusive province of the . . . fact
finder, which we refuse to disturb. . . . It is well settled
. . . that [e]vidence is not insufficient . . . because it is
conflicting or inconsistent. . . . Rather, the [finder of
fact] [weighs] the conflicting evidence and . . . can decide
what-all, none, or some-of a witness’ testimony to
accept or reject.’’ (Citation omitted; internal
quotation marks omitted.) State v. Douglas
F., 145 Conn.App. 238, 243–44, 73 A.3d 915, cert.
denied, 310 Conn. 955, 81 A.3d 1181 (2013).
conclude that the evidence at trial was sufficient to convict
the defendant because the testimony of the victim established
the elements necessary to support the defendant’s
conviction of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of
injury to a child. The victim provided ample graphic
testimony of the sexual assaults and it serves no useful
purpose to recite her testimony in detail. See State
v.Gene C., 140 Conn.App. 241, 246, 57 A.3d
885, cert. denied, 308 Conn. 928, 64 A.3d 120 (2013).
‘‘The jury, as sole arbiter of credibility, was
free to believe that testimony.’’ ...