December 11, 2017
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the
court, Fuger, J.; judgment denying the petition; thereafter,
the court denied the petition for certification to appeal,
and the petitioner appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.
Michael W. Brown, assigned counsel, for the appellant
Michele C. Lukban, senior assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state's
attorney, and Marc G. Ramia, senior assistant state's
attorney, for the appellee (respondent).
Lavine, Elgo and Beach, Js.
petitioner, Calvin Bennett, appeals following the denial of
his petition for certification to appeal from the judgment of
the habeas court denying his petition for a writ of habeas
corpus. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas
court (1) abused its discretion in denying his petition for
certification to appeal, (2) abused its discretion in
declining to admit into evidence a transcript from the
criminal trial of another defendant, and (3) erred in finding
that his right to the effective assistance of counsel at his
criminal trial had not been violated. We disagree and,
accordingly, dismiss the appeal.
Supreme Court, in the petitioner's direct appeal, recited
the following facts, as found by the three judge trial court.
‘‘[The victim] James Caffrey lived in the second
floor apartment of 323 Hill Street in Waterbury with his
girlfriend Samantha Bright and one other roommate. [The
victim's] mother, Emilia Caffrey, lived in the first
floor apartment. In the late afternoon of Saturday, October
26, 2008, [the victim] and Bright had five visitors,
including [the codefendant] Tamarius Maner, in their living
room. Maner had a clear view of the bedroom from where he was
seated in the living room. Maner purchased a small amount of
marijuana from [the victim] and paid him some money, which
[the victim] put in the bedroom. [The victim] kept the
marijuana in the bedroom. [The victim] remarked that he had
saved $500 for a child that he was expecting with Bright.
about that time, Maner and the [petitioner] lived next door
to each other in Bridgeport and had done drug business
together. Maner contacted the [petitioner] by cell phone
during the evening of Saturday, October 26. Shortly after
midnight on Sunday, October 27, Maner and the [petitioner]
drove from Bridgeport to Waterbury to go to [the
victim's] apartment. They were carrying loaded handguns.
after 1 a.m., the doorbell to the second floor apartment at
323 Hill Street rang and [the victim] answered the door. A
conversation of a few seconds with . . . [the victim] ensued.
Maner then shot [the victim] in the face from a distance of
one to three feet with a .45 caliber handgun. [The victim]
fell in the hallway in a pool of blood and died from the
gunshot wound to the head.
and the [petitioner] walked past [the victim] and into a
bedroom. There the [petitioner] put a gun to Bright's
head and asked: Where is everything? Bright understood the
question to inquire about money and drugs. Bright referred
them to the top dresser drawer. Maner opened it and threw its
contents on the bedroom floor.
about that time, they heard the screams of Emilia Caffrey,
who had heard the shot and discovered her son lying in the
second floor hallway. The [petitioner] told Bright to keep
her head down and face toward the wall. Maner and the
[petitioner] then ran into the kitchen, which Emilia Caffrey
had also entered in order to call 911. Maner, who was
standing at the stove, fired one shot at [Emilia] Caffrey and
missed. The [petitioner] was standing at the window.
and the [petitioner] then ran out of the kitchen, pushing
[Emilia] Caffrey to the floor as they left. They returned to
their car and arrived back in Bridgeport around 2 a.m.
interviews of some of the Waterbury visitors to [the
victim's] apartment on the afternoon of October 26 led to
the identity of Maner . . . . Further police investigation,
including analysis of Maner's cell phone calls, brought
police to an apartment in Bridgeport where they found the
[petitioner]. The [petitioner] voluntarily returned to
Waterbury with the police and told them that he had not left
Bridgeport on the night in question. When confronted with the
fact that his cell phone records showed him in Waterbury
during the time of the crimes, the [petitioner] put his head
down for a minute and then indicated that he had nothing more
to say. A search, pursuant to a warrant, of his apartment in
Bridgeport revealed a suitcase containing the
[petitioner's] clothes, a loaded .45 caliber pistol, and
a sock containing sixty-one rounds of ammunition.''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v.
Bennett, 307 Conn. 758, 761-63, 59 A.3d 221 (2013).
Supreme Court noted that the petitioner ‘‘was
charged with aiding and abetting murder in violation of
General Statutes §§ 53a-8 and 53a-54a, felony
murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, home
invasion in violation of General Statutes § 53a-100aa
(a) (1), and burglary in the first degree in violation of
General Statutes § 53a-101 (a) (3). The [petitioner]
elected a trial to a three judge court . . . . The panel,
consisting of Cremins, Crawford and Schuman,
Js., rendered a unanimous verdict of guilty on all of
the charges except aiding and abetting murder, on which a
majority of the panel found the [petitioner] guilty, and
thereafter rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict
and imposed a total effective sentence of sixty years
imprisonment. . . . [T]he [petitioner] directly appealed from
the judgment of conviction to [our Supreme Court]. On appeal,
the [petitioner] contend[ed]: (1) that there was insufficient
evidence to convict him of aiding and abetting murder; and
(2) that he did not knowingly waive his right to a jury
trial.'' (Citation omitted.) Id., 760-61.
Our Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to the
petitioner's first claim but affirmed it in all other
respects. Id., 777.
amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, filed February
4, 2014, the petitioner claimed that his trial counsel,
Lawrence Hopkins, rendered ineffective assistance by, among
other things, failing adequately to challenge the eyewitness
testimony of Bright and Emilia Caffrey. The habeas court
denied the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and a
subsequent petition for certification to appeal from the
court's judgment. This appeal followed. Additional facts
will be discussed as necessary.
petitioner claims that the habeas court erred in denying his
petition for certification to appeal from the denial of his
habeas petition. Specifically, he argues that because the
issues are debatable among jurists of reason and a court
could have resolved the issues differently, the habeas court
abused its discretion in denying his petition for
certification to appeal.
with a habeas court's denial of a petition for
certification to appeal, a petitioner can obtain appellate
review of the dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus
only by satisfying the two-pronged test enunciated by our
Supreme Court in Simms v.Warden, 229 Conn.
178, 640 A.2d 601 (1994), and adopted in Simms v.Warden, 230 Conn. 608, 612, 646 A.2d 126 (1994).
First, [the petitioner] must demonstrate that the denial of
his petition for certification constituted an abuse of
discretion. . . . Second, if the petitioner can show an abuse
of discretion, he must then prove that the decision of the
habeas court should be reversed on the merits. . . . To prove
that the denial of his petition for certification to appeal
constituted an abuse of discretion, the petitioner must
demonstrate that the [resolution of the underlying ...