State v. Crawford

Decision Date28 August 2001
Docket Number(SC 16407)
Citation257 Conn. 769,778 A.2d 947
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE OF CONNECTICUT v. JARRELL CRAWFORD

Borden, Norcott, Palmer, Vertefeuille and Zarella, Js. Richard W. Callahan, special public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Lisa A. Riggione, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Eugene Callahan, state's attorney, and James Bernardi, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Opinion

BORDEN, J.

The dispositive issue of this appeal1 is whether the defendant, Jarrell Crawford, has presented a colorable claim of double jeopardy so as to permit him to pursue this interlocutory appeal from the trial court's denial of his motion to dismiss the charge of manslaughter in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-55 (a) (1).2 The defendant claims that, because he already had entered a plea of guilty to, and had been found guilty of, the crime of assault in the first degree in connection with the beating that led to the death of the victim, Mathew Kosbob, the state is prohibited from seeking multiple punishments for the same offense under the double jeopardy clause. We dismiss the appeal because the claims presented by the defendant do not present colorable claims of double jeopardy that support this interlocutory appeal.

In 1997, the defendant was charged with assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (1) and (4), kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-92 (a) (2) (A), and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 (a), 53a-59 (a) and 53a-92 (a). The defendant pleaded guilty to the charged offenses. The sentencing court, Dean, J., sentenced the defendant to a total effective sentence on all convictions of twenty-five years imprisonment, execution suspended after eleven years, followed by five years probation.

Subsequently, following the death of the victim in November, 1998, the state filed this information charging the defendant with manslaughter in the first degree in violation of § 53a-55 (a) (1). The defendant moved to dismiss this second prosecution on the grounds that it violated the principles of double jeopardy and due process under the federal and state constitutions. The trial court, Nigro, J., denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. This interlocutory appeal followed.

The following facts and procedural history, as set forth by the trial court, are relevant to this appeal. "[The defendant], together with [three] others, had been arrested on July 29, 1995, because of an assault on the victim .... The assault occurred in the evening hours of July 28, 1995. Among other injuries resulting from the assault, the victim sustained a severe craniocerebral trauma and, shortly after the assault, lapsed into a coma of several months duration. He slowly regained some consciousness in mid-December of 1995, but remained hospitalized in a `vegetative' state. He was fed intravenously and breathed with the assistance of a respirator through a tracheal tube. He lingered as a patient in a rehabilitative hospital in this condition until his death on November 23, 1998. The autopsy listed the cause of death as `delayed medical complications of craniocerebral trauma' and the manner of death as [a] `homicide.'

"In March, 1997, while the victim was still hospitalized, the state filed [an] amended [information] against [the defendant] charging the crimes of (1) assault in the first degree while aided by two or more persons actually present and by means of a dangerous instrument; (2) kidnapping in the first degree; and (3) conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree.... "On May 15, 1997, the defendant ... entered a plea of guilty to each of the three counts. On August 5, 1997, [the defendant] was sentenced on the kidnapping in the first degree count to incarceration for twenty-five years, execution suspended after eleven years, and probation on the unexecuted portion for five years. On the counts of assault in the first degree and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, the defendant was sentenced to eleven years on each count to run concurrently with the kidnapping count, to a total effective sentence of twenty-five years, suspended after eleven years, and probation [on] the unexecuted portion of the sentence for five years." At both the May 15, 1997 and August 5, 1997 hearings, the state explicitly reserved its right to bring appropriate homicide charges in the event that the victim died.

The trial court also stated: "After the death of the victim ... the state secured the issuance of [an] arrest [warrant] charging [the defendant] with the crime of manslaughter in the first degree. It is the information filed on the basis of [this warrant], alleging that with intent to cause serious physical injury to [the victim], he caused the death of [the victim], that [the defendant] seeks to have dismissed." The trial court determined that the subsequent prosecution for manslaughter did not violate the defendant's constitutional protection against double jeopardy or violate his due process rights.3

The defendant claims that the state cannot now seek to impose additional punishment for the death of the victim because he already has been sentenced for his participation in the beating that led to the victim's death. According to the defendant, the imposition of additional punishment in connection with that beating would violate the multiple punishments prong of the double jeopardy clause. We conclude that the defendant has misconstrued our double jeopardy jurisprudence, and in doing so, has failed to proffer a colorable double jeopardy claim that supports an interlocutory appeal. Thus, this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to consider this interlocutory appeal under our final judgment jurisprudence. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

The double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the United States constitution provides: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb...." The double jeopardy clause is applicable to the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. See Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 794, 89 S. Ct. 2056, 23 L. Ed.2d 707 (1969). "Although the Connecticut constitution has no specific double jeopardy provision, we have held that the due process guarantees of article first, § 9, include protection against double jeopardy. Kohlfuss v. Warden, 149 Conn. 692, 695, 183 A.2d 626, cert. denied, 371 U.S. 928, 83 S. Ct. 298, 9 L. Ed.2d 235 (1962)." State v. Chicano, 216 Conn. 699, 706, 584 A.2d 425 (1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1254, 111 S. Ct. 2898, 115 L. Ed.2d 1062 (1991); see also State v. Nixon, 231 Conn. 545, 550, 651 A.2d 1264 (1995) (right to protection against double jeopardy is implicit in due process guarantees of state constitution).

It is axiomatic that appellate jurisdiction is limited to final judgments of the trial court. See, e.g., Waterbury Teachers Assn. v. Freedom of Information Commission, 230 Conn. 441, 447-48, 645 A.2d 978 (1994); see also General Statutes § 52-263.4 As we have stated, however, "[t]here is a small class of cases that meets the test of being effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment and therefore, is subject to interlocutory review. The paradigmatic case in this group involves the right against double jeopardy. State v. Moeller, 178 Conn. 67, 420 A.2d 1153, cert. denied, 444 U.S. 950, 100 S. Ct. 423, 62 L. Ed.2d 320 (1979). Because jeopardy attaches at the commencement of trial, to be vindicated at all, a colorable double jeopardy claim must be addressed by way of interlocutory review. The right not to be tried necessarily falls into the category of rights that can be enjoyed only if vindicated prior to trial, and, consequently, falls within the second prong of State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31, 463 A.2d 566 (1983) (otherwise interlocutory order appealable in two circumstances: [1] where order or action terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, or [2] where order or action so concludes rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them). See Shay v. Rossi, 253 Conn. 134, 167, 749 A.2d 1147 (2000) (because criminal defendant's constitutional double jeopardy right includes right not even to be tried for same offense, denial of motion to dismiss criminal charges, filed on basis of colorable claim of double jeopardy, is immediately appealable final judgment under second prong of Curcio).

"We have entertained several interlocutory appeals from denials of motions to dismiss based on double jeopardy claims. See In re Juvenile Appeal (85-AB), 195 Conn. 303, 305-309, 488 A.2d 778 (1985); State v. Aillon, 189 Conn. 416, 425, 456 A.2d 279, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 837, 104 S. Ct. 124, 78 L. Ed.2d 122 (1983); State v. Seravalli, 189 Conn. 201, 206 n.6, 455 A.2d 852, cert. dismissed, 461 U.S. 920, 103 S. Ct. 2076, 77 L. Ed. 2d 291 (1983). That constitutional right not only protects against being twice punished but also is a guarantee against being twice put to trial for the same offense. Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651, 661, 97 S. Ct. 2034, 52 L. Ed.2d 651 (1977). The only real question is whether the double jeopardy claim is colorable." (Emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Tate, 256 Conn. 262, 275-76, 773 A.2d 308 (2001). "For a claim to be colorable, the defendant need not convince the trial court that he necessarily will prevail; he must demonstrate simply that he might prevail." (Emphasis in original.) Id., 276-77.

In the present appeal, the defendant's claim that the state cannot now seek additional punishment by bringing manslaughter charges because to do so would violate the multiple punishments prong of the...

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