State v. Johnson

Citation345 Conn. 174,283 A.3d 477
Decision Date25 October 2022
Docket NumberSC 20437
Parties STATE of Connecticut v. Jason JOHNSON
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut

Pamela S. Nagy, supervisory assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Sharmese L. Walcott, state's attorney, and Matthew A. Weiner, assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

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


The defendant, Jason Johnson, was convicted, following a jury trial, of two counts each of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a) (1) and unlawful restraint in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-95, and one count of assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60 (a) (2). The defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction directly to this court.1

On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the admission of the testimony of a forensic biologist and a DNA analyst violated his rights under the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment to the United States constitution, (2) the state violated his due process rights by failing to correct the false or substantially misleading testimony of its witnesses, and (3) the use of the term "victim" by the prosecutor and some of the state's witnesses during the trial prejudiced him. We conclude that the defendant's claims fail and, accordingly, affirm the judgment.

The following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found, and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. On Thanksgiving night, November 23, 2017, F,2 the testifying victim, was living in a vacant apartment on Zion Street in Hartford. Her younger sister, M, was with her in the apartment that night. F and M were in a bedroom when the defendant, whom F did not know, entered the apartment uninvited.

Threatening F and M with a revolver, the defendant forced them to undress and prevented them from leaving the bedroom. He proceeded to assault them sexually by, among other things, forcibly penetrating both F and M vaginally with his penis. He also penetrated M anally with his penis and made both F and M perform fellatio on him. He further made M perform cunnilingus on F, after striking M on the head with the revolver. At one point, he ordered F to kill M, but F refused.

Thereafter, two other men entered the apartment, one known to F as Mario and one who was unknown to F. The defendant encouraged the unknown man to join in the sexual assaults, but he declined because of a lack of condoms.

At some point during the incident, M fled the apartment, while naked or partially dressed, and ran to a nearby store to seek help. In doing so, she encountered Phillip Cummings and his companions. She told Cummings that she had just been raped and that she feared for her sister, F, who was still with the rapist in a nearby residence. One of Cummings’ companions then called 911. Meanwhile, the defendant urinated in the bedroom closet and lit a cigarette, which he threw onto the floor, before leaving the apartment.

After the authorities received an emergency call reporting the incident at 12:18 a.m. on November 24, 2017, F and M were transported to Hartford Hospital, where Lourdes Jackson, a sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) nurse, evaluated them. In her reports, Jackson noted that both F and M had experienced vaginal tearing

, and that M had irritation on the side of her urethra as well. Additionally, Jackson observed contusions on F's back and a large cut or laceration on the right side of M's forehead. Jackson administered sexual assault kits to both F and M.

Two days after Thanksgiving, on November 25, 2017, the police arrived at the defendant's apartment and arrested him. Upon taking the defendant into custody, the police seized the clothing and jewelry he was wearing. The defendant's roommate and former girlfriend, Mary Alvarez, also gave the police clothing that the defendant had worn on Thanksgiving. Three days later, on November 28, 2017, F reviewed a police photographic array and identified the defendant as the perpetrator.

The following additional evidence was presented at trial. The forensic laboratory of the Division of Scientific Services within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection analyzed the evidence in this case. Lana Ramos, a DNA analyst at the forensic laboratory, testified about the comparison between known DNA profiles from the defendant and the victims and evidentiary samples taken from the sexual assault kits, swabs of the defendant's clothes and jewelry, and a cigarette butt found in the apartment. She explained that F's and M's DNA profiles were "included"3 in the DNA profile drawn from the interior front of the defendant's jeans and that M's DNA profile was included in profiles generated from the interior front of the defendant's underpants. Further, F's and the defendant's DNA profiles were both included in the DNA profile drawn from the cigarette butt.

Partial DNA matches4 were found between M's and F's DNA profiles and the DNA profiles produced from swabs of the defendant's watch and ring. A partial match also was found between the defendant's known DNA profile and one profile generated from genital swabs from M's sexual assault kit.5 However, the defendant's DNA profile was eliminated from the oral swabs and from other genital swabs from M's sexual assault kit. His DNA profile was also eliminated from the vaginal, oral, and genital swabs from F's sexual assault kit.

Additionally, the state called Jennifer Nelson, a biologist at the forensic laboratory, to testify about the forensic analysis performed in relation to the defendant's case. Nelson testified that the oral swabs from M's sexual assault kit tested positive for the presence of P-30, which is a protein component of semen, and that the genital swabs from M's sexual assault kit tested positive for P-30 and amylase, which is a component of saliva. Further, Nelson said that the vaginal swabs in F's sexual assault kit likewise tested positive for amylase, and that, when the swabs were transferred to a smear on a microscope slide, spermatozoa were visualized. Nelson further testified that the genital swabs from F's sexual assault kit tested positive for P-30 and for amylase, as did the defendant's underpants.

The state also presented evidence that the defendant was wearing a global positioning system (GPS) monitoring device on his ankle at the time of the incident that transmitted data recording his location.

The data revealed that the defendant was at or near the vacant Zion Street apartment beginning at 10:21 p.m. on November 23, 2017, and that he remained in that area until 12:02 a.m. on November 24, 2017.6 Moreover, the GPS device stopped transmitting its position from 11:23 p.m. on November 23, 2017, until 12 a.m. on November 24, 2017, a phenomenon that could indicate either that the device was unable to pick up a signal during that time or that the defendant had stopped moving. Further, David Aberle, a state officer tasked with monitoring the defendant's location, testified that the defendant did not return home in time to meet his midnight curfew on November 23, 2017.

The defendant's former girlfriend, Alvarez, testified that, on Thanksgiving, the night of the incident, the defendant called her at some point between approximately 11 and 11:45 p.m. and asked for a ride home from his grandmother's house, which also was on Zion Street. When Alvarez arrived at the house, the defendant's sister told her that he had already received a ride home. When Alvarez arrived home after midnight, the defendant was there and he appeared to be "aggravated."

Alvarez further testified that the defendant's behavior and, in fact, his "whole mood" changed, beginning that night. The defendant uncharacteristically asked her if they could work out their relationship problems, began sleeping in her room, rather than alone, and began moving things from his room to hers.

Alvarez also described how, when police officers came to arrest the defendant on November 25, 2017, he called out to her to tell the police that "[they] were together." Alvarez testified that she initially followed the defendant's instruction and told the police that the two had been together on Thanksgiving. Later, she corrected her statement and informed the police that she was not with the defendant that night.

The jury found the defendant guilty on five charges, as described previously.7 Following his conviction, the defendant entered a guilty plea to being a persistent dangerous felony offender under General Statutes § 53a-40 (a). The trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict and the plea, and sentenced the defendant to, among other things, a total sentence of fifty years of imprisonment, to run consecutively to any sentence or sentences that the defendant was then serving. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.


We first consider the defendant's confrontation clause claim, which stems from the testimony of two of the state's witnesses: Ramos, the DNA analyst, and Nelson, the forensic biologist. The defendant argues that Ramos’ testimony violated his confrontation rights because Ramos was not involved in generating and had no personal knowledge of certain DNA profiles used in the comparisons about which she testified. He further argues that Nelson's testimony about certain forensic reports violated his confrontation rights because Nelson had no direct involvement in and no personal knowledge of the underlying testing or handling of the samples.

The state argues that defense counsel waived the defendant's confrontation clause claims by failing to object to either expert's testimony at trial and, therefore, that the claims are not subject to review under State v. Golding , 213 Conn. 233, 239–40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), as modified by In re...

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    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 12 Septiembre 2023
    ...vital . . . rights protected under Miranda." (Internal quotation marks omitted). State v. Culbreath, supra, 184; see, e.g., State v. Johnson, supra, 345 Conn. 189 (because defendant arguably would not have had confrontation clause claim under subsequently reversed Appellate Court decision a......

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