Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Betts v. Commissioner of Correction

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 12, 2019

WILLIAM BETTS
v.
COMMISSIONEROF CORRECTION

          Argued December 6, 2018

          Amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Tolland and tried to the court, Oliver, J.; judgment denying the petition, from which the petitioner, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

          Deren Manasevit, assigned counsel, for the appellant (petitioner).

          Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and David Carlucci, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (respondent).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Sheldon and Pellegrino, Js.

          OPINION

          SHELDON, J.

         The petitioner, William Betts, appeals from the judgment of the habeas court denying his amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he claimed that trial counsel in his underlying criminal prosecution rendered ineffective assistance by giving him constitutionally inadequate advice concerning the state's pretrial plea offer to recommend a lesser sentence in exchange for his guilty plea to certain charges, which he rejected before the start of trial. On appeal, the petitioner claims that the habeas court erred in ruling that (1) trial counsel did not give him inadequate advice concerning the state's pretrial plea offer, and (2) he was not prejudiced by such allegedly inadequate advice in connection with that offer. We disagree with both of the petitioner's claims and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

         On May 19, 2005, the petitioner was convicted, after a jury trial, of one count each of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1), sexual assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-72a (a) (1) (a), assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-61, and interfering with an emergency call in violation of General Statutes § 53a-183b, and of two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (2). On July 12, 2005, the petitioner was sentenced on his conviction of those charges, together with two resulting violations of probation to which he had pleaded guilty, to a total effective sentence of forty-three years incarceration, execution suspended after twenty-three years, followed by thirty-five years of probation. The petitioner appealed his conviction, which was affirmed by our Supreme Court on March 18, 2008. See State v. Betts, 286 Conn. 88, 942 A.2d 364 (2008).

         The following facts, as described by our Supreme Court in its decision on the petitioner's direct appeal, are relevant to our disposition of this appeal. ‘‘On February 29, 2004, A.L., [1] the thirteen year old victim, visited the home of T.H., her mother, as she did typically once every other week. During that visit, A.L. and the [petitioner], who was T.H.'s fiance´, watched television together in the living room while T.H. slept in a downstairs bedroom that she shared with the [petitioner]. A.L., who initially was sitting on the floor, then moved to [lie] down on the couch, at which time the [petitioner] put his hand in her shirt and touched her breasts before moving his hand down to rub her ‘privates' with his right hand. A.L. told the [petitioner] to stop touching her or else she would kick him, and then started to bang on the floor to wake T.H. The [petitioner] stopped briefly, but then lay on top of A.L. and continued to touch her and grab her breasts with even more force.

         ‘‘At that time, T.H. entered the room, witnessed the [petitioner] lying on top of A.L., and began to yell at both of them; T.H. then ran downstairs intending to call the police. Thereafter, an argument ensued between T.H. and the [petitioner], at which point he called A.L. into the room and asked her to say that nothing had happened between them. A.L. complied with the [petitioner's] request and then left the room, at which point T.H. and the [petitioner] started arguing again about who was lying. At that point, A.L., who had overheard the conversation, became angry, returned to the room and told the [petitioner] to tell T.H. the truth. A.L. then told T.H. that the [petitioner] had ‘rap[ed]' and ‘sexually harass[ed]' her.

         ‘‘T.H. then went back down to the bedroom to call the police. The [petitioner] followed her downstairs and began to choke, beat and spit on her. A.L. also tried to call the police, but was unable to do so because the telephone in the room was disconnected. The [petitioner] then stopped choking T.H., and she left the bedroom. At this time, A.L. gave T.H. a letter that the [petitioner] had written expressing his sexual desire for A.L. The [petitioner] then took the letter and hid it in the bedroom that T.H. and the [petitioner] shared before T.H. could read it.

         ‘‘Thereafter, the police arrived at the house, and T.H. then gave the letter to Robin Gibson, a Manchester police officer who had responded to her call for help. Subsequently, the [petitioner] was arrested and charged with numerous counts of risk of injury to a child, sexual assault in the third degree, assault in the third degree, unlawful restraint in the first degree and interfering with an emergency call.'' (Footnotes omitted.) State v. Betts, supra, 286 Conn. 90-92.

         The petitioner commenced this habeas corpus action on December 11, 2014, challenging the effectiveness of trial counsel in his underlying criminal prosecution. After a two day trial, the habeas court issued a memorandum of decision in which it made the following relevant factual findings. The petitioner was represented at trial by Attorney Bruce Lorenzen. Prior to trial, the state extended an offer to the petitioner that it would recommend a sentence of twenty years incarceration, execution suspended after eight years, followed by twenty years of probation, reserving to the petitioner the right to argue for a fully suspended sentence, if he would plead guilty to the principal charges then pending against him. The petitioner testified that during his discussions with Lorenzen concerning the state's offer, Lorenzen had explained to him each of the charges he was facing, the elements of those charges, and the evidence that would likely be adduced at trial to establish those elements.

         The petitioner also testified that Lorenzen had discussed with him the terms of the state's offer and his own decision whether to go to trial. He claimed that he had rejected the offer because Lorenzen had told him that if he went to trial, the worst case scenario he would face in the event of a conviction would be a sentence of fifteen years incarceration. Importantly, the petitioner testified that he could not recall if Lorenzen had ever explained to him the minimum and maximum sentences he could receive for each offense with which he was charged. He expressed certainty, however, that Lorenzen had never informed him of the maximum exposure he would face if he were convicted of all charges and given the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.