January 9, 2018
information charging the defendant with the crimes of
interfering with a police officer and tampering with a
witness, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial
district of New London, geographical area twenty-one, and
tried to a jury before the court, A. Hadden, J.;
verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant
appealed to this court. Reversed in part; judgment
directed; further proceedings.
O. Seifert, for the appellant (defendant).
Melissa L. Streeto, senior assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were Michael Regan, state's
attorney, and Christa L. Baker, assistant state's
attorney, for the appellee (state).
DiPentima, C. J., and Alvord and Pellegrino, Js.
DiPENTIMA, C. J.
defendant, Jasmine Lamantia, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of interfering with
an officer in violation of General Statutes § 53a-167a
and tampering with a witness in violation of General Statutes
§ 53a-151. On appeal, the defendant claims that the
evidence was insufficient to support her conviction for these
offenses. We agree with the defendant with respect to the
interfering with an officer count, but disagree as to the
tampering with a witness count. Accordingly, we reverse in
part and affirm in part the judgment of the trial court.
jury reasonably could have found the following facts in
support of the verdict. On the evening of July 24, 2015, Earl
F. Babcock and Jason Rajewski spent three or four hours
socializing at a bar in Norwich. At that time, Rajewski was
involved romantically with the defendant. At some point that
evening, the defendant arrived at the bar. After midnight,
Babcock and Rajewski followed the defendant to a house
located at 18 Bunny Drive in Preston. At this location, some
teenagers, including the defendant's son, Joshua Bivens,
were having a party. Upon her arrival, the defendant parked
her car and immediately ran into house. Babcock parked his
car and remained outside with Rajewski.
Moulson, the defendant's former boyfriend, drove his vehicle
into the driveway, and directed the headlights at Babcock and
Rajewski. Moulson, exited his car and ran toward them while
swinging his arms. Babcock fell over backwards, as he was
‘‘disoriented'' by the headlights shining
in his eyes. Moulson and Rajewski engaged in a verbal and
physical altercation that ended with Rajewski striking
Moulson with his right hand and Moulson bleeding from his
face. Moulson ran into the house and called the police.
Babcock and Rajewski left after hearing from the defendant
about Moulson's phone call. Five minutes later, Babcock
dropped Rajewski off at his house, and then proceeded home.
Baker, a Connecticut state trooper, received a dispatch to 18
Bunny Drive for an active disturbance at approximately 2:30
a.m. Baker spoke with Moulson in the presence of the
defendant. Moulson claimed that two males, one of whom he
identified as Rajewski, had assaulted him as he exited his
vehicle. Baker obtained an address for Rajewski, and
proceeded to that address to continue the investigation.
Rajewski's residence, Baker knocked on the door. Rajewski
indicated that he knew why Baker was there and then presented
his cell phone to Baker. Rajewski asked Baker to read the
text messages that he had received from the defendant. Baker
read the text conversation and concluded that the defendant
had requested that Rajewski lie to him. Rajewski then
received a call from Babcock and permitted Baker to answer
his phone. Baker took Rajewski into custody, drove him to the
state police barracks for processing, and then went to
Babcock's house. Following a conversation, Baker arrested
Babcock and transported him to the barracks for processing.
that morning, the defendant arrived at the barracks to pick
up Moulson, who also had been arrested. Baker confronted the
defendant about the text messages that she had sent to
Rajewski, and then placed her under arrest. The defendant
subsequently was charged, tried, and convicted of interfering
with a police officer in violation of § 53a-167a (a) and
tampering with a witness in violation of § 53-151 (a).
The court imposed a concurrent sentence for each count of one
year incarceration, execution suspended, and two years of
probation. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set
forth as necessary.
appeal, the defendant claims that the evidence was
insufficient to sustain her conviction. We begin by setting
forth our well established standard of review.
‘‘In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to
support a criminal conviction we apply a two-part test.
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 [finder of fact] reasonably could have
concluded that the cumulative force of the evidence
established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. . . .
note that the jury must find every element proven beyond a
reasonable doubt in order to find the defendant guilty of the
charged offense, [but] each of the basic and inferred facts
underlying those conclusions need not be proved beyond a
reasonable doubt. . . . If it is reasonable and logical for
the jury to conclude that a basic fact or an inferred fact is
true, the jury is permitted to consider the fact proven and
may consider it in combination with other proven facts in
determining whether the cumulative effect of all the evidence
proves the defendant guilty of all the elements of the crime
charged beyond a reasonable doubt. . . .
it does not diminish the probative force of the evidence that
it consists, in whole or in part, of evidence that is
circumstantial rather than direct. . . . It is not one fact,
but the cumulative impact of a multitude of facts which
establishes guilt in a case involving substantial
circumstantial evidence. . . . In evaluating evidence, the
[finder] of fact is not required to accept as dispositive
those inferences that are consistent with the defendant's
innocence. . . . The [finder of fact] may draw whatever
inferences from the evidence or facts established by the
evidence it deems to be reasonable and logical. . . .
[a]s we have often noted, proof beyond a reasonable doubt
does not mean proof beyond all possible doubt . . . nor does
proof beyond a reasonable doubt require acceptance of every
hypothesis of innocence posed by the defendant that, had it
been found credible by the [finder of fact], would have
resulted in an acquittal. . . . 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 [finder of fact's] verdict of
guilty.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
State v. Crespo, 317 Conn. 1, 16-17, 115 A.3d 447
(2015); see also State v. Rodriguez, 146 Conn.App.
99, 110, 75 A.3d 798 (defendant who asserts insufficiency
claim bears arduous burden), cert. denied, 310 Conn. 948, 80
A.3d 906 (2013). When a claim of insufficient evidence turns
on the appropriate interpretation of a statute, however, our
review is plenary. See State v. Webster, 308 Conn.
43, 51, 60 A.3d 259 (2013).
first address the defendant's claim that the evidence was
insufficient to support her conviction of interfering with a
police officer. The defendant argues that our decision in
State v. Sabato, 152 Conn.App. 590, 98 A.3d 910
(2014), aff'd, 321 Conn. 729, 138 A.3d 895 (2016),
controls the present appeal. Specifically, she contends that
her text messages to Rajewski, a verbal communication that
did not constitute fighting words, cannot form the basis for
a violation of § 53a-167a. We agree with the defendant.
53a-167a (a) provides in relevant part: ‘‘A
person is guilty of interfering with an officer when such
person obstructs, resists, hinders or endangers any peace
officer . . . in the performance of such peace officer's
. . . duties.'' Accordingly, ‘‘[t]he
elements of this crime . . . are (1) a person obstructs,
resists, hinders, or endangers, (2) a peace officer, (3)
while the officer is in the performance of his or her
duties.'' State v. Wearing, 98 Conn.App.
350, 355, 908 A.2d 1134 (2006), cert. denied, 281 Conn. 905,
916 A.2d 47 (2007).
State v. Briggs, 94 Conn.App. 722, 728, 894 A.2d
1008, cert. denied, 278 Conn. 912, 899 A.2d 39 (2006), we
noted that this statute, which is broad in scope, proscribes
behavior that hampers the actions of the police in the
performance of their duties. ‘‘[A]ny act intended
to thwart this purpose violates the statute.''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.
Additionally, ‘‘[t]his statutory provision has
been interpreted to require the intention to interfere with
the performance of an officer's duties as a necessary
element of the offense.'' State v. Flynn, 14
Conn.App. 10, 18, 5 ...