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.

State v. Williams-Bey

Supreme Court of Connecticut

August 23, 2019

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
TAUREN WILLIAMS-BEY

          Argued October 15, 2018

         Procedural History

         Information charging the defendant with the crimes of murder as an accessory and conspiracy to commit murder, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, where the defendant was presented to the court, Clifford, J., on plea of guilty to the charge of murder as an accessory; thereafter, the state entered a nolle prosequi as to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder; judgment of guilty in accordance with the plea; subsequently, the court, Alexander, J., dismissed the defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, and the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Lavine, Beach and Alvord, Js., which reversed the judgment only as to its form and remanded the case with direction to render judgment denying the motion to correct; thereafter, this court, sua sponte, ordered the Appellate Court to reconsider its decision that the trial court had jurisdiction over the motion to correct; subsequently, the Appellate Court, Lavine, Alvord and Beach, Js., affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court.

          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 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.

         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 (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., 136S.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 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.

         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 convicted made him ineligible for parole. See General Statutes (Rev. to 1997) § 54-125a (b) (1). If he serves the full term of imprisonment, the defendant will be fifty-two years old when he is released.

         ‘‘Subsequently, decisions by the United States Supreme Court, decisions by this court, and enactments by our legislature resulted in changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders. . . . Specifically, the United States Supreme Court . . . held that the eighth amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments is violated when a juvenile offender serves a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole because it renders ‘youth (and all that accompanies it) irrelevant to imposition of that harshest prison sentence' and ‘poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment.' Miller v. Alabama, supra, 567 U.S. 479. Thus, an offender's age and the hallmarks of adolescence must be considered as mitigating factors before a juvenile can serve this particular sentence.[1] This court has interpreted Miller to apply not only to mandatory sentences for the literal life of the offender, but also to discretionary sentences and sentences that result in imprisonment for the ‘functional equivalent' of an offender's life. State v. Riley, supra, 315 Conn. 642, 654; see also Casiano v. Commissioner of Correction, supra, 317 Conn. 72. We also have ruled that Miller applies not only prospectively, but retroactively, and also to challenges to sentences on collateral review. Casiano v. Commissioner of Correction, supra, 71.

         ‘‘To comport with federal constitutional requirements, the legislature passed [P.A. 15-84].[2] In relevant part, the act retroactively provided parole eligibility to juvenile offenders sentenced to more than ten years in prison. See P.A. 15-84, § 1.'' (Footnotes in original.) State v. McCleese, supra, 333 Conn. 382-83. As a result, the defendant is no longer serving a sentence without parole-he will be parole eligible after serving twenty-one years, or when he will be thirty-eight years old.

         Following these developments, the defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting, among other claims, a Miller violation.[3] The trial court dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction, and ...


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.