State v. Chapman, No. 14604

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBefore PETERS; SANTANIELLO; In this opinion PETERS; BERDON, Justice, with whom KATZ
Citation643 A.2d 1213,229 Conn. 529
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Donald L. CHAPMAN.
Decision Date18 May 1994
Docket NumberNo. 14604

Page 1213

643 A.2d 1213
229 Conn. 529
STATE of Connecticut
Donald L. CHAPMAN.
No. 14604.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
Argued Jan. 4, 1994.
Decided May 18, 1994 *.

[229 Conn. 530]

Page 1214

Lawrence J. Tytla, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, was C. Robert Satti, Sr., State's Atty., for appellant (state).

Ira B. Grudberg, with whom was William M. Bloss, New Haven, for appellee (defendant).


[229 Conn. 530] SANTANIELLO, Associate Justice.

The defendant, Donald L. Chapman, was found guilty by a jury of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70(a)(1). 2 He was sentenced to a term of[229 Conn. 531] imprisonment of fourteen years, the execution of which was suspended after seven years.

In his appeal to the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed that the trial court had improperly instructed the jury that it could find him guilty of sexual assault in the first degree if it found that he had compelled the victim to engage in sexual intercourse either by the use of force or the threat of use of force. 3 The defendant argued that the state had neither charged him with threatening to use force nor introduced evidence of the threat of use of force. The Appellate Court concluded that the trial court had "improperly instructed the jury on a statutory alternative for which there was no supporting evidence," reversed the judgment and remanded the case for a new trial. State v. Chapman, 28 Conn.App. 360, 366, 610 A.2d 1328 (1992).

We granted the state's petition for certification limited to the following issues: "(1) Did the Appellate Court correctly conclude that the statutory alternative analysis set forth in State v. Williams, 202 Conn. 349, 363-64, 521 A.2d 150 (1987), applied to alternative language occurring within the same statutory sub[division] and that the trial court's instruction permitted the jury to consider a separate and distinct theory of criminal liability? (2) Was the Appellate Court correct in its failure to consider whether any error in the trial court's charge [229 Conn. 532] was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt?" State v. Chapman, 223 Conn. 923, 614 A.2d 827 (1992). We affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court and concluded, with two justices dissenting, that "the trial court improperly instructed the jury on a statutory alternative

Page 1215

for which the defendant was not charged and for which there was no supporting evidence." State v. Chapman, 227 Conn. 616, 618, 632 A.2d 674 (1993). We also concluded that "the trial court's instruction violated the defendant's due process rights under the Connecticut constitution and that harmless error analysis is not required." Id., at 618-19, 632 A.2d 674.

Subsequently, we granted the state's motion for en banc reconsideration and reargument of the same certified issues. We now conclude that, although the trial court's instruction to the jury was improper, any impropriety in the instruction was harmless. 4

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. The defendant, the owner of a horse farm in Ledyard, sold a horse to the nineteen year old victim in November, 1989. In order to help pay for the horse's board at the farm, the victim did chores at the farm after work, after school and on weekends. In addition, the defendant helped the victim train her horse, and she "trusted [the defendant] like a father."

On March 2, 1990, the defendant invited the victim and Debbie, a fourteen year old girl who also kept a horse at the farm, to spend the night in the horse barn in order to observe a mare that was about to foal. That evening, after the victim and Debbie had worked their horses, the victim's boyfriend arrived to pick her up. She told him, however, that she planned to spend the [229 Conn. 533] night at the farm, and asked him to leave because the defendant had told her that he did not want her boyfriend there because "[i]t would look bad."

During the evening, while the defendant and the victim were sitting on a couch in the lounge area of the barn, the defendant made suggestive remarks to the victim, asking her if she would like to know "what a real man feels like...." He also took her hand and placed it on his genital area. The victim pulled away and went and sat next to Debbie.

At approximately 1 a.m., the victim fell asleep on the lounge floor. Debbie was sleeping on a couch, and the defendant and his young son slept on another couch in the lounge.

At approximately 3 a.m., the defendant awakened the victim and asked her to accompany him to the office. All the others present were asleep. Assuming that the mare was about to foal, the victim accompanied the defendant. When they reached the office, the defendant asked the victim to sit on the floor. She complied, half-sitting and half-lying against the wall. The defendant then pushed her on her back and held her down with the weight of his body. Without saying anything, the defendant grabbed the victim's pants and pulled them completely off. Tossing the pants behind him, he said "I want to show you what a real man feels like." The victim kept shaking her head "no." The defendant then slid down on top of the victim and unzipped his pants. The victim tried to squirm, pull away and keep her legs together, but the defendant held her across the chest and used his legs to pry her legs apart. He then penetrated her vagina with his penis.

The victim continued to struggle and succeeded in squirming away from the defendant. During the course of the struggle, the defendant repeatedly asked the vic[229 Conn. 534] tim, " [I]sn't this what you wanted?" She responded, "no, no." The defendant also told the victim to keep quiet because she was being too loud. After he had penetrated the victim, the defendant got up, tossed the victim's pants to her and left the office. The victim, thereafter, put her pants back on, returned to the lounge and crawled onto the couch with Debbie.

The next morning, Debbie, noticing that the victim appeared to be bothered by something, asked her what was wrong. The victim did not respond. Later, without going into detail, the victim told Debbie and Kim, an older girl who had arrived at the barn, what had happened. The victim and Debbie then went to talk to Debbie's parents. The victim told Debbie's parents that the defendant had taken her into his office, placed her

Page 1216

in a corner, removed her pants and penetrated her even though she had attempted to cross her legs and struggled with him. Debbie's parents convinced her to call the police. A police officer, Carl Fowler, came to Debbie's parents' house and took a statement from the victim. The statement was later introduced at the defendant's trial as constancy of accusation evidence.

That evening, Kim was at the defendant's barn. While she was there, the defendant borrowed her car and drove away. He returned a short time later and stated to Kim: "[I]t is over.... I'm going to kill myself." He told Kim that his marriage was unsatisfactory, that he was "horny" and that he needed sex all the time. He also said that he would rather kill himself than go to jail. He then stated that "they" were at the police station and asked Kim to give him a ride in her car.

Kim drove the defendant to Debbie's parents' house, where the defendant saw the victim's boyfriend's truck. Debbie's parents' car, however, was not there. The defendant told Kim that the victim must be telling on [229 Conn. 535] him, and asked her to take him to the police station. When they arrived at the police station, they saw the victim, Debbie and her parents leaving. The defendant then asked Kim to take him to Debbie's parents' house.

The victim, Debbie and her parents found the defendant waiting for them at the house. Debbie's father spoke to the defendant, who was crying, upset and pleading for forgiveness. He stated that he was sorry, that he did not want to go to jail and that "this time" he would go to jail. He asked Debbie's father whether they were going to press charges. When Debbie's father asked him, "[D]o you know what you have done," the defendant became hysterical. The defendant then fled on foot, stating that he was going back to the barn to shoot himself.

The police were called again, and Resident State Trooper Ronald Robbins went to the barn where he found the defendant with a gun. After convincing the defendant to put the gun down, Robbins arrested him and warned him of his rights. The defendant gave a written statement to Detective Edward Melvin at that time.

In the statement, the defendant acknowledged approaching the victim and inviting her to his office to "finish what she had started." He stated that they then had kissed, and he had removed her pants. He claimed that the victim then had changed her mind, and he had lectured her about being a tease. He said that he had told her that many men would not stop, but that "[h]e was a nice guy." He also told Melvin that the victim was "[o]f legal age," that she "was a troublemaker who made up stories," that she had not been wearing underwear and that he had never exposed his penis to her. Because at trial the defendant claimed that he had [229 Conn. 536] amnesia regarding the entire incident, the trial court permitted him to introduce the statement he had given Melvin.

In its charge, the trial court paraphrased § 53a-70(a)(1) to the jury in its entirety, stating that "a person is guilty of sexual assault in the first degree when such person compels another person to engage in sexual intercourse by the use of force against such other person or by the threat of the use of force against such person which reasonably causes such person to fear physical injury." (Emphasis added.) The defendant took an exception to the court's instructing on a theory of liability for which there was no evidence, thereby properly preserving the...

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