May 16, 2018
information charging the defendant with two counts of the
crime of sexual assault in the fourth degree and with one
count of the crime of risk of injury to a child, brought to
the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain,
geographical area number fifteen, and tried to the jury
before the court, Keegan, J.; verdict and judgment
of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to this court.
F. Meehan, with whom, on the brief, was Walter C. Bansley IV,
for the appellant (defendant).
Margaret Gaffney Radionovas, senior assistant state's
attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Brian Preleski,
state's attorney, and Elizabeth M. Moseley, assistant
state's attorney, for the appellee (state).
Lavine, Moll and Bishop, Js.
defendant, Walter Bobby Ayala, appeals from the judgment of
conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of two counts of
sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General
Statutes § 53a-73a (a) (1) (A), and one count of risk of
injury to a child in violation of General Statutes §
53-21 (a) (2). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial
court abused its discretion by failing to disclose redacted
portions of the victim's mental health records following
the court's in camera review of the records pursuant to
State v. Esposito, 192 Conn. 166, 471 A.2d
949 (1984), thereby violating his sixth and fourteenth
amendment right to confrontation. We affirm the judgment of
the trial court.
following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found,
and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The
defendant resided with the then twelve year old victim,
victim's mother, and the victim's two younger
siblings in an apartment in New Britain. The defendant was in
a relationship with the victim's mother. During one
unspecified night in March, 2011, the defendant came into the
victim's room while she was sleeping on two separate
occasions. During one encounter, he touched her buttocks, and
during the other encounter, he touched the victim's
vagina and attempted to pull down her pajama
incident was not reported to the police until April, 2012,
when the victim disclosed the abuse to her father and his
fiance´ while visiting them in New York. At this time,
the victim spoke to a New Britain police officer over the
phone. The victim's allegations prompted the New York
Administration for Children's Services and the
Connecticut Department of Children and Families (department)
to conduct an investigation. Members of the department
interviewed the victim as part of its investigation. The
victim also received treatment at the Wheeler Clinic in
defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with two
counts of sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of
§ 53a-73a (a) (1) (A) and one count of risk of injury to
a child in violation of § 53-21 (a) (2). Before trial,
the defendant filed a motion to obtain records from the
department and the Wheeler Clinic pertaining to the
victim's mental health pursuant to State v.
Esposito, supra, 192 Conn. 166, and
State v. Bruno, 236 Conn. 514, 673 A.2d
1117 (1996), arguing that the records were probative of the
victim's mental capacity to know or correctly relate the
truth and had the potential to show motive or bias. The court
granted the motion and, after the victim consented, the court
conducted an in camera review of the victim's department
file and her Wheeler Clinic file. The court found that
portions of the records were probative of the victim's
mental capacity to know or correctly relate the truth and had
the potential to show motive or bias. As a result, the court
disclosed redacted copies of the records to the defendant. At
trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as to all
charges. The court subsequently sentenced the defendant to a
total effective sentence of eight years of incarceration and
twelve years of special parole. This appeal followed.
Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.
first address whether the defendant's claim that the
court violated his right to confrontation by failing to
disclose redacted portions of the victim's mental health
records following its in camera review of those records is
reviewable. We note, at the outset, that the defendant failed
to preserve this issue at trial. Our Supreme Court has
indicated that, when a court has conducted an in camera
review and has disclosed only a portion of the material
sought, it is necessary for the defendant to object to any of
the court's redactions at the trial stage before raising
the claim on appeal. See State v. Cecil J.,
291 Conn. 813, 829 n.12, 970 A.2d 710 (2009) (noting that it
was ‘‘incumbent'' on defendant to object
to trial court's redactions at trial); State v.
Harris, 227 Conn. 751, 761, 631 A.2d 309 (1993)
(defendant objected to court's limited disclosure of
personnel file after in camera review and challenged action
brief, the defendant asserts that ‘‘to the degree
this claim is not preserved, '' he is entitled to
review under State v. Golding, 213 Conn.
233, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), as modified by In re Yasiel
R., 317 Conn. 773, 781, 120 A.3d 1188 (2015). Under
Golding, ‘‘a defendant can prevail on a
claim of constitutional error not preserved at trial only if
all of the following conditions are met: (1) the
record is adequate to review the alleged claim of error; (2)
the claim is of constitutional magnitude alleging the
violation of a fundamental right; (3) the alleged
constitutional violation . . . exists and . . . deprived the
defendant of a fair trial; and (4) if subject to harmless
error analysis, the state has failed to demonstrate
harmlessness of the alleged constitutional violation beyond a
reasonable doubt. In the absence of any one of these
conditions, the defendant's claim will fail.''
(Emphasis in original; footnote omitted.) State v.
Golding, supra, 239-40. ‘‘The
first two steps in the Golding analysis address the
reviewability of the claim, while the last two steps involve
the merits of the claim.'' (Internal quotation marks
omitted.) State v. Britton, 283 Conn. 598,
616, 929 A.2d 312 (2007).
first prong is satisfied because the defendant has provided
us with an adequate record to review his constitutional
claim. Golding's second prong is also satisfied
because an erroneous restriction on the defendant's
access to a witness' confidential records
‘‘implicates the defendant's constitutional
right to impeach and discredit state witnesses.''
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v.Bruno, supra, 236 ...