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State v. Williams-Bey

Supreme Court of Connecticut

August 23, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Tauren WILLIAMS-BEY

         Argued October 15, 2018

         Appeal from Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, Alexander, J.

Page 712

          Heather Clark, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

         Michele C. Lukban, senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, and Vicki Melchiorre, supervisory assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         George Jepsen, former attorney general, Steven R. Strom, assistant attorney general, and Leland J. Moore filed a brief for the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles as amicus curiae.

          S. Max Simmons and Marsha L. Levick filed a brief for the Juvenile Law Center as amicus curiae.

         Michael S. Taylor and James P. Sexton, Hartford, filed a brief for the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as amicus curiae.

         Palmer, McDonald, D’Auria, Mullins, Kahn and Ecker, Js.

          OPINION

         D’AURIA, J.

         [333 Conn. 470] Under the federal constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments, a juvenile offender cannot serve a sentence of imprisonment for life, or its functional equivalent, without the possibility of parole, unless his age and the hallmarks of adolescence have been considered as mitigating factors. Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 476-77, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407');">183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012); Casiano v. Commissioner of Correction, 317 Conn. 52, 60-61, 115 A.3d 1031 (2015), cert. denied sub nom. Semple v. Casiano, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1364, 194 L.Ed.2d 376 (2016); State v. Riley, 315 Conn. 637, 641, 110 A.3d 1205 (2015), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1361, 194 L.Ed.2d 376 (2016). The defendant, Tauren Williams-Bey, is presently serving a sentence of thirty-five years imprisonment, and, pursuant to No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84), codified at General Statutes § 54-125a, has the possibility of parole after twenty-one years in prison. His original sentence of thirty-five years without parole was imposed without consideration of his age or

Page 713

the hallmarks of adolescence. The defendant does not claim that this sentence violates the federal constitution. Rather, he claims that it violates the Connecticut constitution and that he must be resentenced, even after P.A. 15-84 later made him parole eligible. On the basis of our decision in State v. McCleese, 333 Conn. 378, __ A.3d __ (2019), which we also release today, we conclude that the defendant is not entitled to resentencing.

         [333 Conn. 471] The following facts and procedural history are relevant to the present appeal. The defendant is currently imprisoned for murder. He was sixteen years old when he and two friends shot and killed the victim. The defendant pleaded guilty to murder as an accessory, in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1997) § 53a-54a and General Statutes § 53a-8. The parties waived the presentence investigation report, and the record does not reveal that the court otherwise considered the defendant’s age and the hallmarks of adolescence as mitigating factors at sentencing. In accordance with the plea agreement, the court imposed a sentence of thirty-five years imprisonment. At the time of sentencing, the crime of which the defendant was ...


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