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State v. Pugh

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 25, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
Matthew M. PUGH

         Argued March 18, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Judicial District of New Haven, Jon M. Alander, J.

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          Shanna P. Hugle, with whom was James B. Streeto, senior assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

         Sarah Hanna, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Patrick J. Griffin, state’s attorney, and John M. Waddock, former supervisory assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Keller, Bright and Flynn, Js.


         FLYNN, J.

         [190 Conn.App. 796] The defendant, Matthew M. Pugh, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (2), assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (5), and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit in violation of General Statutes § 29-35 (a). On appeal, the [190 Conn.App. 797] defendant claims that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction on each of these charges, (2) the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss in which he contended that his right to due process was violated by a preaccusation delay, and (3) the court abused its discretion in giving any consciousness of guilt instruction and committed plain error in giving the actual instruction in this case. We disagree with the first claim and conclude that the evidence sufficed to permit a reasonable jury to find the defendant guilty of all charges. We further conclude that the defendant has failed to show the requisite actual, substantial prejudice to establish a due process violation resulting from the preaccusation delay. Finally, the court did not err by giving a consciousness of guilt instruction because such an instruction is permissible under our law and the evidence supported the giving of such an instruction in this case. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

          The jury was presented with the following evidence upon which to base its verdict. On August 21, 2008, at approximately 8 p.m., while Tatiana Grigorenko was walking on Edwards Street near the corner of Nicoll Street in New Haven, she

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noticed the defendant acting in a strange manner. On her right shoulder, Grigorenko had a shoulder bag, which contained her wallet, cash, credit cards, cell phone, keys, and other personal items. She felt someone tug on her shoulder bag. The defendant "swerved" in front of Grigorenko, pointed a gun at her, and told her several times to give him the bag. The defendant shot Grigorenko, striking her right thumb. Grigorenko released her bag, and the defendant ran down Nicoll Street carrying the bag. Grigorenko, who was in pain, began screaming. Grigorenko was not able to identify the defendant, but described her assailant as a black male, with a medium complexion, who was wearing a do-rag on his head and was "slightly" taller than her height of five feet, four and one-half inches, [190 Conn.App. 798] in addition to some added height as a result of her wearing "a little bit of heels ...."

          At approximately 8 p.m. that same evening, while Stephanie Aquila was inside her house, which was located on the corner of Lawrence and Nicoll Streets in New Haven, she heard what she initially thought to be fireworks followed by screaming coming from the direction of Edwards Street. She looked out the window and saw a young, black, medium complexioned male, approximately five feet six inches tall, who was wearing dark loose fitting clothing and either a black baseball cap or a do-rag. The man was carrying a purse under his right arm and running down Nicoll Street from the direction of Edwards Street toward Lawrence Street. Aquila was unable to identify the runner from a photographic array that she was later shown by the police.

          At approximately 8 p.m. on that same evening, Kristine Mingo was in the passenger seat of a vehicle that was traveling on Nicoll Street. Mingo’s vehicle stopped at the corner of Nicoll Street and Lawrence Street, and she saw a man carrying a woman’s handbag in his right hand, running on Nicoll Street toward her vehicle from the direction of Edwards Street. Mingo saw the man run past her vehicle and then turn onto Lawrence Street. Mingo’s vehicle followed the man as he headed down Lawrence Street in the direction of Foster Street. Mingo described the individual as a young, medium complexioned black male between five feet five, and five feet seven inches tall, who was wearing a loose dark shirt, baggy pants, and a do-rag on his head. While Mingo’s vehicle was stopped at the intersection of Lawrence and Foster Streets, the man "brushed against the front of the car" and Mingo got a good look at him when they "locked eyes and looked right at each other." On August 29, 2008, a detective with the New Haven Police Department showed Mingo a photographic array from [190 Conn.App. 799] which she identified the defendant as the man she had observed on the night of August 21, 2008.

         On August 23, 2008, one of Grigorenko’s stolen credit cards was used at Shaw’s Supermarket, and other transactions involving the credit cards were declined at the Burlington Coat Factory. From a surveillance video at Shaw’s Supermarket, police identified Latricia Black as the individual who used the stolen credit card. Black testified that on August 23, 2008, a man named "Matt" drove her, Joann Anderson, and another woman,[1] to Shaw’s Supermarket where Black purchased items with the stolen credit card that Anderson had given

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to her. Black identified the defendant, both in and out of court, as the man named "Matt" who was driving the car. Black testified that only she, Anderson, and Black’s child went inside Shaw’s, and that all the individuals in the car went into the Burlington Coat Factory. Black testified that the group proceeded to Burlington Coat Factory, where a ...

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