October 17, 2017
Katherine C. Essington, for the appellant (defendant).
L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom,
on the brief, were Brian Preleski, state's attorney, and
Elizabeth M. Moseley, assistant state's attorney, for the
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, McDonald, Robinson and
ROGERS, C. J.
case requires us to examine the meaning of language used in
General Statutes § 53-247 (a),  a provision that
criminalizes a broad range of acts of cruelty to animals. The
defendant, Delano Josephs, appeals from the judgment of
conviction of a single violation of § 53-247 (a),
stemming from his shooting of his neighbor's cat with a
BB gun. The defendant claims that (1) the trial
court improperly concluded that the clause of § 53-247
(a) applicable to his conviction, which bars a person from
‘‘unjustifiably injur[ing]'' an animal,
requires only a general intent to engage in the behavior
causing the injury, (2) the phrase
‘‘unjustifiably injures'' in §
53-247 (a) is unconstitutionally vague both facially and as
applied to the facts of this case and (3) the evidence was
insufficient to support the defendant's conviction
pursuant to § 53-247 (a). We disagree with each of these
claims and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of conviction.
defendant was convicted after a trial to the court. The
record reveals the following facts that the trial court
reasonably could have found. At the time of the events in
question, the defendant lived next door to Lorraine Leiner,
who kept a number of cats as pets and allowed them to roam
outdoors. On June 3, 2012, Peter Bombard, who was visiting
one of Leiner's tenants, was parked by Leiner's house
when he heard three distinct noises that he identified as a
BB gun being discharged. Bombard exited his car and saw a man
he recognized as the defendant walking with a BB gun in his
hands. Bombard testified that the man acted
‘‘like he was stalking something'' and
moved ‘‘the way a hunter would walk.''
Upon noticing Bombard, the defendant cocked the gun and made
‘‘direct eye contact'' before
‘‘slowly back[ing] up out of [his] view . . .
night of June 14, 2012, Leiner's cat, Wiggles, came
inside, and, the next morning, Leiner noticed blood on
Wiggles' shoulder. She brought the cat to the Animal
Hospital of Berlin for treatment where Veterinarian David
Hester took a radiograph of Wiggles and determined that the
cat had a ‘‘metal opacity'' of about
‘‘three or four millimeters, ''
consistent with a BB, located ‘‘[a]djacent to
about the tenth vertebra'' of its spine. Hester
treated Wiggles but did not remove the BB. At the
defendant's trial, Hester testified that BB gun injuries
to cats are uncommon and rarely seen.
Hester treated Wiggles, Leiner complained to the police that
‘‘a neighbor was shooting her cats.'' In
investigating the complaint, Animal Control Officer James
Russo spoke with the defendant in his driveway in late July
or early August, 2012. Russo testified that the defendant
‘‘openly admitted that he does have a BB
gun'' and that ‘‘he was shooting at the
cats to scare them away'' from coming onto his
property, although he also stated that ‘‘he had
no means of hurting any cats.''
defendant alleged during his oral motion for a judgment of
acquittal that the ‘‘unjustifiably
injures'' clause of § 53-247 (a) required
specific intent to ‘‘harm the animal, to shoot
the animal.'' In its final ruling, the trial court
rejected this argument, determining that ‘‘[t]he
state [was] not required to prove the defendant intended to
injure the animal'' because the crime only required a
general intent to engage in the conduct in question.
trial court found that ‘‘the credible evidence
establishes the state prove[d] the elements of the offense
[of] cruelty to animals pursuant to § 53-247 (a) beyond
a reasonable doubt and, therefore, [found] the defendant
guilty [of one count of cruelty to animals].'' See
footnote 3 of this opinion. The defendant was sentenced to
thirty days incarceration, execution suspended, and six
months of probation. This appeal followed.
defendant, who was convicted pursuant to the portion of
§ 53-247 (a) that bars a person from
‘‘unjustifiably injur[ing]'' an animal,
claims first that the trial court committed reversible error
by applying the wrong mens rea for the crime. Although
acknowledging that the ‘‘unjustifiably
injures'' clause of § 53-247 (a)is unaccompanied
by any mens rea qualifier, the defendant contends that the
state must prove that he had the specific intent to injure
Wiggles, rather than the general intent to do the act that
led to the injury. In response, the state argues that
‘‘[t]he plain language of § 53-247 (a), its
relationship to the other statutes and its legislative
history all demonstrate that the legislature intended for the
prohibition against unjustifiably injuring an animal to
require only the general intent to engage in the action that
ultimately results in injury to the animal.'' We
agree with the state.
issue of the requisite mens rea applicable to the
‘‘unjustifiably injures'' clause of
§ 53-247 (a) ‘‘is a question of statutory
interpretation, over which our review is plenary.''
State ex rel. Gregan v. Koczur, 287 Conn. 145, 152,
947 A.2d 282 (2008). ‘‘When construing a statute,
[o]ur fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect
to the apparent intent of the legislature. . . . In other
words, we seek to determine, in a reasoned manner, the
meaning of the statutory language as applied to the facts of
[the] case, including the question of whether the language
actually does apply.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) Id. Pursuant to General Statutes §
1-2z, the ‘‘meaning of a statute, shall, in the
first instance, be ascertained from the text of the statute
itself and its relationship to other statutes. If . . . the
meaning of such text is plain and unambiguous and does not
yield absurd or unworkable results, extra-textual evidence of
the meaning of the statute shall not be considered.''
A statute is ambiguous if, ‘‘when read in
context, [it] is susceptible to more than one reasonable
interpretation.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
State v. Pond, 315 Conn. 451, 467, 108 A.3d 1083
case law distinguishes between general and specific intent.
‘‘In determining [whether a crime] requires proof
of a general intent [or] of a specific intent, the language
chosen by the legislature in enacting a particular statute is
significant. When the elements of a crime consist of a
description of a particular act and a mental element not
specific in nature, the only issue is whether the defendant
intended to do the proscribed act. If he did so intend, he
has the requisite general intent for culpability. When the
elements of a crime include a defendant's intent to
achieve some result additional to the act, the additional
language distinguishes the crime from those of general intent
and makes it one requiring a specific intent.''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Roy,
173 Conn. 35, 45, 376 A.2d 391 (1977); see also General
Statutes § 53a-5 (‘‘[w]hen the commission of
an offense . . . or some element of an offense, requires a
particular mental state, such mental state is ordinarily
designated in the statute defining the offense by use of the
terms ‘intentionally, ' ‘knowingly, '
‘recklessly' or ‘criminal negligence'
''). Moreover, ‘‘[w]e are not permitted
to supply statutory language that the legislature may have
chosen to omit.'' Vaillancourt v. New Britain
Machine/Litton, 224 Conn. 382, 396, 618 A.2d 1340
53-247 is comprised of subsections (a) through (e).
Subsections (b) through (e) each include explicit specific
intent terms, specifically, ‘‘maliciously and
intentionally, '' ‘‘knowingly, ''
and ‘‘intentionally, '' that apply to all
of the acts proscribed by the particular subsection. General
Statutes § 53-247 (b) through (e).In contrast,
§ 53-247 (a) lacks a mens rea term that applies to every
proscribed act listed therein and, instead, contains some
clauses that include a specific intent term and others that
do not. See footnote 1 of this opinion. This ...