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State v. Barjon

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

December 4, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
JEAN BARJON

          Argued September 11, 2018

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of robbery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, geographical area number two, and tried to the jury before Thim, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Stephen A. Lebedevitch, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Mitchell S. Brody, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state's attorney, and Joseph J. Harry, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Keller, Moll and Beach, Js.

          OPINION

          BEACH, J.

         The defendant, Jean Barjon, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes§ 53a-134 (a) (2), conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 and 53a-134 (a) (2), robbery in the second degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 53a-135 (a) (1), and conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of § 53a-48 and General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 53a-135 (a) (1).[1] On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court violated his right to conflict free counsel under the sixth amendment to the United States constitution and article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The defendant and his codefendant, Jacques Louis, were tried together. In State v. Louis, 163 Conn.App. 55, 58-60, 134 A.3d 648, cert. denied, 320 Conn. 929, 133 A.3d 461 (2016), this court held that a jury reasonably could have found the following facts: ‘‘On December 28, 2011, at approximately 8:15 p.m., [Louis], [the defendant], Tinesse Tilus, and Guailletemps Jean-Philippe (conspirators) together entered the Caribbean-American Market (market) on Wood Avenue in Bridgeport. They called for the owner, Rene Adolph, who was in the kitchen cooking, to come out. Adolph recognized Tilus and [the defendant], but not [Louis] and Jean-Philippe, who stood on either side of him. The conspirators demanded money from Adolph, and Jean-Philippe displayed a firearm. Adolph, fearing for his life, ran from the market to the laundry next door and called out for help. [Louis], [the defendant], and Tilus chased Adolph, who held the door to the laundry closed as [Louis] attempted to open it. Margarita Avcolt, a laundry employee, observed the activity, and telephoned the police. She saw one man trying to open the door and two others standing a ‘meter' away.

         ‘‘Meanwhile, Jean-Philippe, who had remained in the market, walked into the walled-in area occupied by the cashier, Ramon Tavares. Jean-Philippe displayed his gun and ordered Tavares to give him money. Jean-Philippe took the money Tavares gave him, as well as his phone.

         ‘‘Back at the laundry, Adolph saw a police cruiser passing by, so he ran out and flagged down Officer Elizabeth Santoro. The three conspirators, who had followed Adolph to the laundry, ran and got into a car. Adolph pointed to the three conspirators in the car, who were getting ready to ‘take off.' Adolph told Santoro that the men had tried to rob him. He also pointed to Jean-Philippe, who by that time was running away from the market on Wood Avenue. Adolph saw him ‘toss the gun.' Santoro was able to detain Jean-Philippe, and told [the defendant], the driver of the car, not to move. Tilus and [Louis] were passengers in the car. According to Santoro, all of the conspirators were dressed in suits as if they were going somewhere.

         ‘‘Officer Christopher Martin arrived on the scene as backup for Santoro. Martin seized $635 from Jean-Philippe and found a loaded, operable firearm that Jean-Philippe had discarded near a trash receptacle. A firearms expert, Marshall Robinson, examined the gun that Martin recovered and the casings it ejected when fired. As part of his investigation, Robinson learned that the gun had been used to fire cartridges in an incident in New Jersey. Both [Louis] and Jean-Philippe were from New Jersey.

         ‘‘[Louis] and [the defendant] were each charged with robbery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree, robbery in the second degree, and conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree, and stood trial together. [Louis'] theory of defense was that he was ‘merely present' at the time of the robbery and that Adolph's testimony was not believable. [The defendant] also claimed that he merely was present at the time of the robbery, that Adolph was not credible, and that Jean-Philippe acted alone in order to collect an unpaid debt from Adolph, who allegedly ran an illegal lottery from the market.''

         From the outset of the criminal proceedings against the defendant, Attorney Eroll Skyers represented both the defendant and Tilus, who had criminal charges arising from the same events pending against him but was tried in a separate proceeding. On February 7, 2012, the defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. Over the course of the following months, the state and the defendant were not able to agree upon a disposition, and the case was placed on the trial list. On October 2, 2012, Attorney Skyers appeared in court with the defendant, who at that time had communicated through counsel his intention to plead guilty under the Alford[2]doctrine to the charge of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. The following colloquy occurred between the trial court, Devlin, J., and the defendant during the plea canvass:

‘‘The Court: Do you believe, Mr. Barjon, that even though you disagree with [the prosecutor's statement of facts], even though you don't agree that it happened the way the prosecutor said, do you think [that] if you went to trial and . . . they put forward their evidence in court, there's at least a risk that the jury might believe their side of the case and convict you on this charge and the other charge pending against you. Do you think there's a chance of that?
‘‘[The Defendant]: No, not so ever. No.
‘‘The Court: All right. So, why are you pleading ...

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