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State v. Turner

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 25, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Elizabeth K. TURNER

         Argued January 11, 2019

         Appeal from the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury, Cremins, J.

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          Mark Rademacher, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

         Ronald G. Weller, senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Maureen Platt, state’s attorney, and Terence D. Mariani and Cynthia S. Serafini, senior assistant state’s attorneys, for the appellee (state).

         Lavine, Prescott and Bright, Js.

         OPINION

         LAVINE, J.

         [190 Conn.App. 695] This case tragically exemplifies the adage that no good deed goes unpunished. In February, 2012, Donna Bouffard invited a homeless couple, the defendant, Elizabeth K. Turner, and her husband, Claude

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Turner, to live with her in her home.[1] In June of the same year, Turner brutally murdered both Bouffard and her adult son, Michael Perkins, in Bouffard’s Watertown home. The defendant appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of two counts of felony murder in violation of [190 Conn.App. 696] General Statutes § 53a-54c,[2] one count of criminal attempt to possess narcotics in violation of General Statutes § 53a-49 and General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 21a-279 (a), one count of larceny in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-124 (a), one count of burglary in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-103 (a), one count of hindering prosecution in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-166 (a), two counts of forgery in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-139 (a) (1), two counts of robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-134 (a) (1), one count of robbery in the first degree in violation of § 53a-134 (a) (3), one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-48 (a) and 53a-134 (a), one count of tampering with evidence in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 53a-155 (a) (1), one count of conspiracy to commit larceny in the third degree in violation of § § 53a-48 and 53a-124, one count of accessory to larceny in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-8 and 53a-124, one count of larceny in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-123, and one count of using a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission in violation of General Statutes § 53a-119b. On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court improperly allowed the jury to consider a legally invalid but factually supported theory for the robbery and felony murder convictions, specifically, that a larceny by false pretenses that is part of a continuous course of larcenous conduct culminating in a murder can provide the predicate felony for a robbery and felony murder, and (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction of attempted possession of narcotics. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         [190 Conn.App. 697] The record discloses the following facts that the jury reasonably could have found on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. In February, 2012, Christine Perkins, Bouffard’s daughter, and Christine Perkins’ then husband, David Ortiz, met the Turners at the Waterbury mall. Christine Perkins recognized Turner from previously having seen him in a Salvation Army food line. As the defendant was noticeably pregnant at the time, Christine Perkins and Ortiz invited her and Turner to stay with them in Bouffard’s home. As a result, the Turners moved into Bouffard’s home. Eventually, the relationship between the Turners and Bouffard deepened, and the defendant and Turner started calling Bouffard, "mom."

          In April, 2012, Bouffard received a disability settlement of $13,000, which she put in an envelope that she hid under her mattress. When money began to disappear from the envelope, she moved it into a safe. Her relationship with the Turners soured, and Bouffard accused the defendant of stealing from her. On April 19, 2012, the same day that she left for vacation, Bouffard served eviction papers on

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Christine Perkins and Ortiz so that Michael Perkins, who had moved out of her house due to a conflict with Ortiz, could return to the home.

          At the end of April, 2012, upon returning from vacation, Bouffard noticed that the safe had been moved and pried open, and approximately $6000 was missing. Bouffard accused the defendant of taking the money. The defendant later admitted to police that she had told Turner to take money from under the mattress and from the safe. The defendant explained that Turner did everything for her, that he did all he could to try to keep her happy, that she and Turner used the stolen money to buy drugs, and that she was "in her glory."

          As indicated, the relationship between Bouffard and the Turners deteriorated. The defendant, on more than one occasion, expressed her desire to put rat poison [190 Conn.App. 698] into Bouffard’s and Michael Perkins’ food because they were "always in her business." The defendant also mentioned to a stranger that she and Turner didn’t like Bouffard and Michael Perkins. After Bouffard had been killed, the defendant explained to police that Bouffard would lecture her about how she, Bouffard, was unhappy, which the defendant described as "[c]ondescending. Poor me, poor me.... Everyone needs to wait on me." The defendant admitted to having arguments with Bouffard, and that when Bouffard would start "running her mouth," the defendant would "usually go upstairs because [she didn’t] want to hear it because [she would] cuss [Bouffard] out and make her cry." Bouffard asked the defendant and Turner to leave in May, 2012, but they did not.

         In June, 2012, only Bouffard, Michael Perkins, Turner, and the defendant lived in the home. On June 28, 2012, the defendant directed Turner to tell Bouffard that she was in jail and needed $50 for bail, which was untrue. After Bouffard gave Turner the $50, Turner and the defendant used the money to buy drugs. The defendant and Turner performed the ruse one more time that evening, with Turner explaining to Bouffard that the bond was actually $100, and he needed another $50 to get the defendant out of jail. Bouffard gave Turner the additional $50.[3]

         When the Turners returned to Bouffard’s home in the early hours of June 29, 2012, Michael Perkins was asleep on the couch and Bouffard was awake in her bedroom. The defendant later stated to police that Bouffard was "running her mouth" and "she didn’t want to listen to [Bouffard] run her mouth, so she went upstairs, but she was curious about what might be taking place downstairs, so she lowered the sound on the television so [190 Conn.App. 699] that she could listen in." She heard some banging and Michael Perkins yelling, and went downstairs. She saw Turner stabbing Michael Perkins in the stomach, but did not protest or intercede. Michael Perkins was saying, "please stop, I love you." Bouffard did not come out of her room, which led the defendant to believe that Turner had already killed her. Turner told the defendant to go back upstairs, which she did. A short while later, Turner went upstairs and handed the defendant Bouffard’s purse. The defendant went through the purse and took money, gift cards, and the ...


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