October 24, 2017
Paul Spinella, for the appellant (defendant).
M. Ralls, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the
brief, were David I. Cohen, former state's attorney, and
James M. Bernardi, supervisory assistant state's
attorney, for the appellee (state).
DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Sheldon, Js.
defendant, Miguel Juarez, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of conspiracy to
commit murder in violation of General Statutes §§
53a-48 and 53a-54a, and attempt to commit murder in violation
of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 and 53a-54a. On
appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the evidence adduced at
trial was insufficient to support his conviction of either
charge, and (2) the state failed to prove the charges of
which he was convicted as they were set forth in its long
form information. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
jury was presented with evidence of the following facts on
which it could have based its verdict. In December, 2009,
German Zecena approached the defendant and asked to borrow
$300 from him because he was unemployed and his mother was
sick. Zecena had worked for the defendant's landscaping
company for two seasons prior to that date. The defendant
gave Zecena the $300 that he asked for, and he asked Zecena
to follow his wife ‘‘to see who she was seeing
and if she was with a boyfriend or not.'' The
defendant told Zecena that ‘‘he knew or he kind
of knew that [his wife] had a boyfriend and, if that in fact
was the case, then he was going to get a divorce.''
The defendant asked Zecena to go to the lower part of the
Stamford Mall parking lot to see if the defendant's
wife's car was there, and if she was there, to see if
anybody was with her.
Zecena observed the defendant's wife at the mall
‘‘three or four times with the same
person.'' Zecena witnessed the defendant's wife
and that man, later identified as William Forte,
kissing. When Zecena told the defendant that he had
witnessed his wife kissing another man at the mall, the
defendant became upset and called his wife various names,
using ‘‘curse words.'' Thereafter, in
addition to sending Zecena to the mall to look for his wife,
the defendant asked Zecena to drive by Forte's house,
which was located in Greenwich, to see if his wife was there.
When Zecena drove by Forte's house, he saw Forte sitting
beside the defendant's wife on the stairs outside of the
house. Zecena observed the couple talking, hugging and
kissing. The defendant also instructed Zecena to look for his
wife around the area of exit five on Interstate 95. At that
location, Zecena saw the defendant's wife and Forte
inside a car, talking, hugging and kissing. Zecena
subsequently followed the defendant's wife, at the
defendant's direction, five or six more times.
relationship with the defendant continued into the spring of
2010, when Zecena started working for another landscaping
company. In that time frame, at the defendant's request,
Zecena would drive by Forte's house two or three times
each week to see if the defendant's wife was there.
Between February 22, 2010, and June 19, 2010, the defendant
called Zecena, on average, ten to fifteen times each day.
Zecena did not answer most of those calls, but when he did
speak to the defendant, ‘‘[the defendant] always
asked . . . if [Zecena had] seen his wife, if [Zecena] had
passed by the house where his wife's boyfriend
point in the spring of 2010, Zecena met the defendant at a
stone yard on Larkin Street in Stamford. In that meeting,
after Zecena told the defendant that he had seen his wife
with Forte, the defendant told Zecena that he would give him
$5000 to kill Forte. When Zecena responded by telling the
defendant that he did not have ‘‘sufficient
courage'' to kill Forte, the defendant asked Zecena
to find someone else to kill Forte. Zecena agreed to find
someone to kill Forte, although he testified that he
‘‘was going to ask [the defendant] for an
additional $1000 . . . so that [he] could keep $500 for
[him]self and then $500 for the other person that [he] was
going to ask to find someone to do that job.'' The
defendant thereafter called Zecena three or four times to
receive updates as to Zecena's efforts to find someone to
10, 2010, Zecena approached Luis Miranda, whom Zecena had
known for several years through Miranda's work as a
bouncer at a bar in Stamford. Zecena asked Miranda if he knew
someone who would kill Forte, and he offered Miranda $5000 if
he would kill Forte, or $500 if he would find someone else to
do it. On or about June 17, 2010, Miranda called Zecena and
told him that he had found someone to ‘‘do that
job.'' Miranda set up a meeting between Zecena and
the ‘‘hit man'' for June 19, 2010. Zecena
called the defendant and told him that he had found someone
to kill Forte, to which the defendant responded,
‘‘[t]hat['s] very well . . . go speak with
that person.'' Zecena told the defendant that he
‘‘was going to interview . . . that guy''
was a police informant who regularly dealt with Stamford
Police Officer Raphael Barquero. Miranda contacted Barquero
to report the substance of his June 10, 2010 conversation
with Zecena. Barquero told Miranda to try to get additional
information from Zecena. To that end, Miranda called Zecena
on or about June 14, 2010. Miranda testified that when Zecena
had confirmed to him that he wanted to ‘‘go
forward and talk to someone who would kill someone for him,
'' Miranda told Zecena, at Barquero's
instruction, that he would find someone to kill Forte.
Barquero told Miranda that he would find another officer to
pretend to be ‘‘a contract killer.''
19, 2010, at about 4:30 or 5:30 p.m., Miranda called Zecena.
Zecena told Miranda to ‘‘meet [off] exit five in
front of CVS'' in a shopping center in Greenwich.
After that call, both Miranda and Detective Frederick Quesada
of the Greenwich Police Department, the officer who would
pretend to be the ‘‘contract killer, ''
travelled to the location specified by Zecena. Upon arriving
at the CVS parking lot, Miranda exited his car and looked
around for Zecena. When he saw Zecena, he introduced Zecena
to Quesada as the man who was ‘‘going to do the
meeting, Zecena and Quesada decided to talk in Quesada's
car. Zecena ‘‘asked [Quesada] if he could kill a
person.'' Zecena told Quesada that he wanted him to
kill Forte because Forte owed him a lot of
money.Quesada agreed to kill Forte. Zecena told
Quesada that Forte lived ‘‘right around the
corner'' from where they were talking in the CVS
parking lot and suggested that they drive to Forte's
house. Quesada agreed and Zecena directed him to Forte's
house, pointing out both his house and his car, a blue Volvo.
Zecena told Quesada that, although Forte lived alone, he had
frequently observed a ninety year old woman at Forte's
house, whom he presumed to be Forte's mother. Zecena
described Forte to Quesada as tall, bald and chubby. Zecena
told Quesada that Forte did not leave his house often because
he is ‘‘getting up in years.'' After
driving through Forte's neighborhood, Zecena and Quesada
stopped at a liquor store to buy some beer, which they drank
while they talked. Throughout the course of their
discussions, Zecena repeatedly told Quesada that he would
like to know when Quesada intended to do the job because he
wanted to be sure to have the money ready to pay Quesada when
the job was done. Quesada indicated that he would do it
either that night or the next night. During his meeting with
Quesada, Zecena called the defendant. The defendant told
Zecena that he was in a meeting and thus could not talk to
him, but that he would call him back in thirty minutes. When
Quesada and Zecena returned to the CVS parking lot, Quesada
asked Zecena if he had ‘‘something [he] could
use'' to kill Forte. Zecena gave him a knife that he
carried in his truck for work. Zecena also gave Quesada $80,
with the promise of another $420 in ‘‘half an
hour, an hour.'' Zecena told Quesada that he would
call him when he got the $420, and Quesada stated that he
would remain in the area to wait for his call and also to
watch Forte's house. Zecena left the CVS parking lot to
go home, but he was pulled over and arrested.
an investigation, the defendant also was arrested and charged
with conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit
murder. The defendant was convicted of both charges, after a
jury trial, and the court thereafter imposed a total
effective sentence of twenty years incarceration, ...