State v. Flores

Docket NumberSC 20512
Decision Date20 September 2022
Citation344 Conn. 713,281 A.3d 420
Parties STATE of Connecticut v. Adrian FLORES
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Alice Osedach, assigned counsel, for the appellant (defendant).

Meryl R. Gersz, deputy assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Anne F. Mahoney, state's attorney, and Louis J. Luba, Jr., senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

Robinson, C. J., and McDonald, D'Auria, Mullins, Kahn, Ecker and Keller, Js.

D'AURIA, J.

The defendant, Adrian Flores, directly appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of home invasion in violation of General Statutes § 53a-100aa (a) (1) ; home invasion in violation of General Statutes § 53a-100aa (a) (2) ; burglary in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-101 (a) (1) ; burglary in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-101 (a) (3) ; attempt to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 (a) (2) and 53a-134 (a) (3) ; and conspiracy to commit home invasion in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-48 (a) and 53a-100aa (a) (1). On appeal, he claims that (1) the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his written statement to the police, who failed to comply with the requirements of General Statutes § 54-1o, (2) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence the entirety of the cooperation agreement between the state and his accomplice, Benjamin J. Bellavance, including portions regarding Bellavance's obligation to testify truthfully, and (3) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, home invasion predicated on attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, home invasion predicated on burglary in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit home invasion. We affirm the judgment of conviction.

Based on the evidence admitted at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. The defendant approached his friend, Bellavance, about a plan to steal drugs and money from the residence of the defendant's drug dealer, Daniel Bowling (Daniel). The defendant knew where Daniel lived because he previously had been to the residence to buy drugs from him. Bellavance, who was addicted to cocaine at the time, agreed to the defendant's plan.

On the day of the incident, December 21, 2017, the defendant and Bellavance ingested cocaine and then drove to A.J. Manufacturing, LLC, where Bellavance worked. Both men went inside and obtained two box cutters, zip ties, duct tape, two chisels, and plastic gloves. Once it was dark outside, Bellavance drove the defendant to Daniel's residence in Woodstock, a single-family house where he resided with his mother, Rhonda Bowling, and his father, Raymond M. Bowling, Jr. (Raymond Jr.). The defendant directed Bellavance not to park near Daniel's house but, rather, to park about one mile down the road. The defendant and Bellavance, who took turns holding a black duffel bag containing the items gathered at the store, then walked toward Daniel's house. Both men wore partial facemasks, and each had a box cutter. Bellavance also carried a machete, which he concealed in his pants, although the defendant was aware that he carried it. The men walked to the back basement door of Daniel's house. The defendant kicked in the door, and they entered the residence.

Daniel, whose bedroom was located in the basement of the house, was home with his mother and father. Daniel's older brother, Raymond Bowling III (Raymond III), also was at the residence visiting his family. All four family members were upstairs when they heard a loud noise from the basement. Daniel, Raymond Jr., and Raymond III ran down the basement stairs while Rhonda grabbed a kitchen knife and called 911. When Daniel, Raymond Jr., and Raymond III reached the bottom of the basement steps, they saw the defendant and Bellavance standing inside the basement with masks partially covering their faces. Bellavance was holding a machete and carrying a black duffel bag. The defendant was holding "[s]ome type of knife" or "something else sharp ...." Raymond III asked the intruders what they were going to do. Bellavance raised the machete, but, when Raymond III repeated his question, the defendant and Bellavance remained quiet, and then turned and ran out of the basement door. Raymond III grabbed a shovel and chased the intruders down the driveway. The defendant slipped and fell on the driveway, causing his facemask to slip and allowing Raymond III to see his face. Raymond III hit the defendant in the chest with the shovel. Bellavance, seeing this altercation, swung the black duffel bag at Raymond III but missed him. The defendant grabbed the shovel from Raymond III, threw it in the woods and, with Bellavance, ran toward their vehicle.

Raymond III got into his vehicle and drove in the direction that the defendant and Bellavance had run until he encountered their unoccupied vehicle parked down the road. He drove back to his parents’ residence and gave the license plate number to Rhonda, who remained on the telephone with the police. He then drove back to the intruders’ unoccupied vehicle to prevent them from fleeing. Meanwhile, the defendant and Bellavance hid in the woods near their vehicle. They remained in the woods for approximately one to one and one-half hours until the police discovered them. While being taken into custody, the defendant stated that Daniel was his drug dealer. A patdown of the defendant revealed that he had a box cutter in the front pocket of his jacket. Additionally, the police found the machete and the black duffel bag containing the zip ties, duct tape, two chisels, and plastic gloves on the ground by a tree near the defendant and Bellavance. The defendant was arrested and transported to the police station, where he gave a statement to the police.

Following his arrest, the defendant was charged with two counts of home invasion, two counts of burglary in the first degree, one count of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, and five conspiracy counts.1 After a jury trial, the defendant was found guilty on all ten counts. At sentencing, the court vacated the verdict as to four of the five conspiracy counts,2 leaving intact only the verdict on the count of conspiracy to commit home invasion predicated on robbery. The court sentenced the defendant to a total effective term of twenty-five years of incarceration, execution suspended after fifteen years, ten years of which was a mandatory minimum, followed by five years of probation. The defendant appealed directly to this court pursuant to General Statutes § 51-199 (b) (3). We will discuss additional facts and procedural history as necessary.

I

The defendant claims that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his written statement to the police because the police had failed to comply with the requirements of § 54-1o. Specifically, he argues that the state failed to prove that he voluntarily made the statement and that the statement was reliable. We disagree.

The following additional facts and procedural history are relevant to this claim. After the defendant was arrested and brought to the police station, he provided a written statement to the police. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress this statement, arguing that it was inadmissible under § 54-1o because it was made as part of a custodial interrogation, which the state had failed to electronically record. The trial court then held a hearing on the motion during which several police officers and the defendant testified. The trial court later issued an oral decision on the record denying the defendant's motion to suppress.

In ruling on the defendant's motion, the trial court made the following subsidiary findings, which we quote at length: "[The defendant and Bellavance] were ... transported to [the state police] Troop D [barracks in Danielson] and placed in individual cells at approximately 11:30 p.m. While the defendant was in his cell, Sergeant John Gregorzek ... approached his cell and asked the defendant his name and date of birth; at that time, the defendant, unprompted, told Gregorzek that he wanted to give a statement; Gregorzek followed up by asking if the defendant would provide a statement, and the defendant responded yes, and ... then ... the defendant, unprompted, proceeded to give ... a rundown of the events ... of that night. Gregorzek then assigned Trooper Michael P. Gibson to advise the defendant of his rights. Accordingly, Gibson removed the defendant from the cell and brought him into the processing room .... At approximately 3:10 a.m. Gibson ... advised the defendant, inter alia, of his right[s] to [remain] silen[t], to an attorney, and to be interviewed about the conditions of his release. State's exhibit 3 sets out those rights in both English and in Spanish. After Gibson read this form to the defendant, the defendant was allowed to read state's exhibit 3 for himself; after doing so, the defendant signed his name in the box at the bottom of the form. This entire procedure was witnessed by Gregorzek.

"The defendant told Gibson that he wanted to give a statement. Commencing at 3:20 a.m., therefore, Gibson read to the defendant state's exhibit 2, titled ‘Notice and Waiver of Rights.’ Gibson started by reading verbatim the top portion of the form, which advised the defendant, inter alia, of his right to remain silent, right to an attorney, right to have an attorney present during any questioning, and the right to stop answering questions at any time. The defendant told Gibson he understood these rights; he then signed the notice of rights form, and Gibson signed as a witness. Gibson then read the defendant the lower portion of the form, state's exhibit 3, consisting of three separate waivers of rights. These waivers included the desire to speak with the...

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