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State v. Clark

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 9, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
TERENE CLARK

          Argued April 9, 2019

         Procedural History

         Information charging the defendant with the crime of assault in the first degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield and tried to the jury before Pavia, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty of the lesser included offense of assault in the second degree, from which the defendant appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Glenn Formica, for the appellant (defendant).

          Michael A. DeJoseph, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, was John C. Smriga, state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Alvord, Elgo and Moll, Js.

          OPINION

          ALVORD, J.

         The defendant, Terene Clark, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of one count of assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60 (a) (3). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress her statement to the police, which she alleges was obtained in violation of her constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478-79, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         The jury reasonably could have found the following facts.[1] In the early morning hours of June 18, 2015, the defendant and the victim were involved in an altercation at their shared apartment. At the time, the defendant and the victim had been in a relationship for approximately ten years. The victim became angry when he discovered that the defendant was in the bedroom talking on the phone to another man. The argument started in the bedroom and continued into the kitchen. While in the kitchen, the defendant grabbed a knife off the counter and, ultimately, stabbed the victim twice, once in the upper back and once in the leg. The victim fell to the floor and was unable to stand up. A neighbor drove the victim to the hospital while the defendant remained at the apartment.

         At 2:19 a.m., Luis Moura, an officer with the Bridgeport Police Department, was dispatched to a multifamily home on Grand Street to respond to a report of a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, Officer Moura spoke to the second floor tenant, who had called the police. She reported that the dispute happened downstairs.

         Officer Moura thereafter knocked on the door of the first floor apartment, and the defendant answered. Officer Moura asked her what had happened, and she responded that ‘‘he went to the hospital.'' Officer Moura did not know about whom the defendant was talking and again asked her what had happened. The defendant led Officer Moura to the bedroom, where she explained that she had been in that room on the phone with a male friend whom the victim did not like. The defendant stated that the victim then took her phone, knocked items off the dresser and onto the floor, and struck her twice.

         After the defendant explained to Officer Moura what had happened in the bedroom, she left the bedroom and brought Officer Moura through the living room and into the kitchen. There, she explained that she feared for her life, so she had taken a knife off the counter and warned the victim to stay back. Finally, the defendant explained that the victim was injured when he walked away from her and slipped on water on the kitchen floor, falling backward onto the knife.

         Officer Moura then received a phone call from Thomas Harper, an officer with the Bridgeport Police Department who had gone to the hospital to check on the victim's condition. Officer Harper told Officer Moura that the victim had two stab wounds, one in the leg and one in the upper back, which had left the victim a paraplegic. Upon learning that the victim's injuries were inconsistent with the defendant's version of events, [2] Officer Moura placed the defendant under arrest.

         The defendant subsequently was charged with assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (1). Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress all statements that she had made to the police, including her statement to Officer Moura explaining what had happened to cause the victim's injuries.[3] At a pretrial suppression hearing, the trial court denied the defendant's motion with respect to her statement as to ...


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