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State v. Artiaco

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 24, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
WILLIAM A. ARTIACO

          Argued March 5, 2018

         Procedural History

         Substitute information, in the first case, charging the defendant with the crimes of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child, and substitute information, in the second case, charging the defendant with the crimes of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Windham, geographical area number eleven, where the cases were consolidated for trial; thereafter, the matter was tried to the jury before Swords, J.; verdicts of guilty; subsequently, the court denied the defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal and the defendant's motion to set aside the verdicts and for a new trial, and rendered judgments in accordance with the verdicts, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Robert J. McKay, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Lisa A. Riggione, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom were Bonnie R. Bentley, senior assistant state's attorney, and, on the brief, Anne F. Mahoney, state's attorney, and Matthew Crockett, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Bright and Flynn, Js.

          OPINION

          DiPENTIMA, C.J.

         The defendant, William A. Artiaco, appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of two counts of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (2) and two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2). On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court abused its discretion in precluding the testimony of his expert witness and (2) he was deprived of a fair trial due to prosecutorial impropriety during closing argument. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgments of conviction.

         The state filed two substitute informations against the defendant, each charging him with one count of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child. One information charged the defendant with committing the offenses in Putnam and the other with committing the offenses in East Windsor. Both substitute informations alleged that the criminal conduct occurred between 1998 and May 5, 2003, and that the victim was the same in both cases.[1] The defendant's trial commenced on June 1, 2011, and concluded on June 8, 2011, with convictions on all four counts.[2] Following his convictions, the court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years incarceration and ten years of special parole.[3] This appeal followed.[4]

         I

         The defendant first claims that the court abused its discretion in precluding the testimony of his expert witness. Specifically, he argues that the court improperly determined that his expert witness, James Connolly, a psychologist and attorney, was not qualified ‘‘to be deemed an expert in child abuse in this matter, as he demonstrated to the trial court that [he] had a special skill or knowledge directly applicable to a matter in issue, that his skill or knowledge is not common to the average person, and that the testimony would be helpful to the court or jury in considering the issues.''[5]Because the argument presented on appeal differs from the one raised before the trial court, we decline to review this issue.

         The following additional facts are necessary. Following the conclusion of the state's case, the defendant sought to have Connolly testify as an expert witness. The state requested and received permission to voir dire Connolly regarding his qualifications to testify in the present case. Outside of the presence of the jury, defense counsel and the prosecutor questioned Connolly about his education and experience. During argument, defense counsel expressly stated that his ‘‘proffer is that [Connolly] will comment on whether or not the [forensic] interview [of the victim] was well con-ducted.''[6] The state countered that he lacked the training, knowledge, experience and skill to assist the jury in determining whether the forensic interviews of the victim had been conducted properly. The court determined that he was not qualified as an expert on forensic interviews of child victims of sexual abuse.[7]

         On appeal, the defendant does not claim that the court erred in excluding Connolly's testimony as to whether the forensic interview of the victim was conducted properly. Instead, he now argues that Connolly was well qualified to opine on inconsistencies in the victim's trial testimony and recorded interviews and his opinions could have been used to impeach her credibility. This differs markedly from the proffer made at trial, where defense counsel sought to have Connolly review the propriety of the forensic interview techniques and protocols used for child sexual abuse victims.

         The trial court's preclusion of Connolly as an expert witness is an evidentiary ruling. State v.Campbell, 149 Conn.App. 405, 425-27, 88 A.3d 1258, cert. denied, 312 Conn. 907, 93 A.3d 157 (2014). ‘‘Appellate review of evidentiary rulings is ordinarily limited to the specific legal [ground] raised by the objection of trial counsel. . . . To permit a party to raise a different ground on appeal than [that] raised during trial would amount to trial by ambuscade, unfair both to the trial court and to the opposing party.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v.Bennett, 324 Conn. 744, 761, 155 A.3d 188 (2017); see State v.Holloway, 117 Conn.App. 798, 813-14, 982 A.2d 231 (2009), cert. denied, 297 Conn. 925, 998 A.2d 1194 (2010); see generally State v.Paul B., 143 Conn.App. 691, 700, 70 A.3d 1123 (2013) (assigning error to court's evidentiary ruling on basis of objections never raised at trial unfairly subjects court and opposing party to trial by ambush), aff'd, 315 Conn. 19, 105 A.3d 130 (2014); State v.Scott C., ...


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