January 2, 2019
petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the
court, Sferrazza, J.; judgment denying the petition,
from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification,
appealed to this court. Affirmed.
L. O'Brien, assigned counsel, with whom, on the brief,
was Christopher Y. Duby, assigned counsel, for the appellant
Melissa L. Streeto, senior assistant state's attorney,
with whom, on the brief, were Patrick Griffin, state's
attorney, and Rebecca Barry, senior assistant state's
attorney, for the appellee (respondent).
Lavine, Elgo and Bear, Js.
petitioner, Maurice Ross, appeals from the judgment of the
habeas court denying his amended petition for a writ of
habeas corpus. The petitioner claims on appeal that the
habeas court improperly rejected his claim that his trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing (1) to
call a toxicologist as an expert witness in order to present
an adequate intoxication defense and (2) to object to
improprieties in the prosecutor's closing arguments. We
affirm the judgment of the habeas court.
following facts, as set forth by this court in affirming the
petitioner's judgment of conviction, and procedural
history are relevant to our disposition of the
petitioner's appeal. ‘‘In early February,
2009, the [petitioner] and the victim, Sholanda Joyner, were
involved in a romantic relationship. The two had known each
other since they were children, and had dated intermittently
during the preceding eleven years. The victim's
relationship with the [petitioner] was, as the victim's
sister described it, ‘dysfunctional . . . .'
days before February5, 2009, the [petitioner] went to the
victim's apartment on Woolsey Street in New Haven and
encountered two of her male acquaintances. A physical
altercation between the two men and the [petitioner] ensued,
and the [petitioner] was forcefully ejected from the
victim's apartment. Shortly thereafter, the [petitioner]
purchased a revolver for the purpose of killing the two men.
The [petitioner] returned to the victim's apartment the
next morning and encountered the individuals who had
assaulted him the previous day. After displaying the
revolver, the [petitioner] took their money, cell phones, and
some drugs. . . .
February 5, 2009, the victim appeared, crying . . . at her
father's doorstep. Approximately two minutes later, the
[petitioner] arrived and demanded that the victim leave with
him. Over the protests of the victim's stepmother, the
[petitioner] grabbed the victim by the arm and pulled her out
the door. Later that evening, at the home of the victim's
grandmother, the victim was crying and pleading with the
[petitioner] to leave her alone. The [petitioner] again
commanded the victim to depart with him, and the two left.
leaving the house of the victim's grandmother at
approximately 11 p.m., the [petitioner] and the victim walked
to the victim's apartment. Along the way, the victim
stopped and purchased some ecstasy pills and phencyclidine
(PCP). The victim and the [petitioner] smoked the PCP while
en route to the victim's apartment. After arriving at the
victim's home, the [petitioner] and the victim went into
the victim's bedroom, and both of them ingested ecstasy.
At some point, the [petitioner] retrieved a revolver and
asked the victim if she had ‘set [him] up . . . .'
The [petitioner] then fired one gunshot into her head,
intentionally killing her. . . .
[petitioner] was arrested and charged with murder in
violation of [General Statutes] § 53a-54a (a), and
carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit in violation
of [General Statutes] § 29-35 (a). At trial, the
[petitioner] testified and admitted that he shot the victim.
He claimed, however, that the gun had fired accidentally. The
jury found the [petitioner] guilty of both charges. The court
subsequently sentenced him to a total effective term of sixty
years in prison.'' (Footnote omitted.) State v.
Ross, 151 Conn.App. 687, 688-91, 95 A.3d 1208, cert.
denied, 314 Conn. 926, 101 A.3d 271 (2014). On April 28,
2017, the petitioner filed an amended petition for writ of
habeas corpus. On November 6, 2017, after a trial, the habeas
court denied the petition and on November 15, 2017, granted
the petitioner's petition for certification to appeal.
This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as
is well established that [a] criminal defendant is
constitutionally entitled to adequate and effective
assistance of counsel at all critical stages of criminal
proceedings . . . . This right arises under the sixth and
fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and
article first, § 8, of the Connecticut constitution. . .
. As enunciated in Strickland v. Washington, [466
U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984)], this
court has stated: It is axiomatic that the right to counsel
is the right to the effective assistance of counsel. . . . A
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel consists of two
components: a performance prong and a prejudice prong. To
satisfy the performance prong . . . the petitioner must
demonstrate that his attorney's representation was not
reasonably competent or within the range of competence
displayed by lawyers with ordinary training and skill in the
criminal law. . . . The second prong is . . . satisfied if
the petitioner can demonstrate that there is a reasonable
probability that, but for that ineffectiveness, the outcome
would have been different. . . . An ...