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State v. Hudson

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 27, 2018


          Argued October 17, 2017

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of assault in the first degree as an accessory and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the jury before Mullarkey, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty of conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Douglas H. Butler, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Rita M. Shair, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Thomas Garcia, former assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Sheldon, Keller and Bishop, Js.


          SHELDON, J.

          The defendant, Anthony Hudson, appeals from the judgment of conviction rendered against him following a jury trial on the charge of conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 and 53a-59 (a) (1). On appeal, the defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. We disagree, and thus affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         On July 19, 2013, two hikers reported a ‘‘very unusual'' odor to the Suffield Police Department, which they discovered while out on a bike path in a wooded area in West Suffield. Officer John Lacic was dispatched to investigate the hikers' report. Upon arriving in the wooded area, Lacic also noticed a strong odor, which he determined to be coming from a blue duffle bag containing a dead human body. Lacic was later joined at the scene by other personnel from the Suffield Police Department and the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad. The hands and feet of the man in the duffle bag had been tied behind his back with rope, and tape had been wrapped around his head, feet and body. The body was taken to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Farmington for autopsy and identification. Based upon his fingerprints, the victim was identified as Peter Boateng.

         After identifying Boateng, a police investigation into his death ensued. Detective Joseph Fargnoli, of the Major Crimes Division of the Hartford Police Department, went to 171 South Marshall Street to verify Boateng's address. Fargnoli observed Boateng's name on the apartment's mailbox. Upon returning to his vehicle, which he had parked in the rear of the building, Fargnoli was approached by three individuals: Megan Cowles, Jose Rodriguez and the defendant. Fargnoli told them that Boateng was at the Hartford police station filing a complaint that his property had been taken from the apartment, which appeared to surprise them. When Fargnoli asked them if Boateng resided with them, they responded that Boateng had moved out of the apartment approximately one week earlier, then invited Fargnoli into the apartment. Upon entering the apartment through the kitchen, Fargnoli observed a bedroom area with a crib in it. He also ‘‘noticed what appearedto be a blood stainon the carpet'' and detected a smell ‘‘like there had been a dead body in the apartment.''

         On July 22, 2013, Fargnoli returned to 171 South Marshall Street with a warrant to search the apartment. While conducting the search, he noticed that there were bloodstains on the wall and ceiling of the apartment. Members of the search team seized the bloodstained area of carpeting that he had observed when he initially entered the apartment earlier, in addition to a baby blanket that had been used to cover up that stain. They also seized a hatchet, a hammer and a baseball bat. Two cadaver dogs were brought in to search the apartment for the scent of human remains. Both alerted at a bedroom just inside the front door and at the carpet beneath the crib. One of the dogs was also directed to search the interior of Boateng's car, which had been towed from the apartment. The dog alerted to the interior of the trunk of the car.

         Fargnoli, along with three additional law enforcement officers, interviewed the apartment's occupants. They first approached the defendant, who was ‘‘trembling'' and ‘‘shaking'' as he told the officers that Boateng had moved out of the apartment the week before. The defendant agreed to accompany the officers to the police station for further discussion. During that discussion, the defendant changed his story, explaining that Rodriguez had killed Boateng due to an escalating conflict between himself and Boateng regarding the rent. While the interrogation of the defendant continued, Rodriguez and Cowles also were brought to the police station for questioning, during which the following information, which ultimately led to the arrest of all three of them, was learned.

         In May, 2013, Rodriguez was kicked out of the Salvation Army shelter in Hartford, where he had been living with Cowles and their infant daughter. Soon thereafter, Rodriguez ran into the defendant while walking down the street. Although they had known each other since approximately 1989, they had not seen each other for several years. Upon learning that Rodriguez was homeless, the defendant invited Rodriguez to stay at his two-bedroom apartment on South Marshall Street. Rodriguez accepted the defendant's offer and moved into the apartment with the defendant and Peter Boateng. The defendant and Boateng each stayed in one of the bedrooms, while Rodriguez slept in the living room.

         Eventually, Cowles and her daughter also moved into the defendant's apartment, where they slept in the living room with Rodriguez. Shortly after Cowles moved in, Rodriguez overheard Boateng heatedly yelling and cursing at Cowles and his daughter. Rodriguez intervened by yelling at Boateng to stop disrespecting Cowles, and Boateng apologized.

         At one point, a conflict arose between the defendant and Boateng because Boateng had paid his share of the rent to the defendant's estranged wife instead of paying it to the defendant so he could pay the landlord. As a result, the defendant was unable to fulfill his obligation to pay the landlord. Thereafter, the defendant repeatedly asked Boateng for the rent, but Boateng refused, causing the conflict between them to escalate. Although the police were called to the apartment on two occasions to respond to arguments between the ...

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