State v. Juan A. G.-P.

Decision Date06 February 2023
Docket NumberSC 20164
Citation346 Conn. 132,287 A.3d 1060
Parties STATE of Connecticut v. JUAN A. G.-P.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

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

Laurie N. Feldman, assistant state's attorney, with whom were Sharmese Walcott, state's attorney, and, on the brief, Stephen J. Sedensky III, former state's attorney, and Matthew A. Weiner, former assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

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

ALEXANDER, J.

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Juan A. G.-P., was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70c (a) (5) and two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes § 53-21 (a) (1).1 On appeal,2 the defendant claims that the trial court violated his right to confrontation under the sixth amendment to the United States constitution3 by not ordering disclosure of the victims’ psychiatric records to the defense. The defendant asks this court to conduct an independent review of those records to determine whether they contain exculpatory or relevant impeachment material. The defendant further claims that the trial court violated his confrontation rights by preventing him from questioning the victims’ mothers about their U visa applications.4 Lastly, the defendant raises two unpreserved claims of instructional error. Specifically, he claims that the trial court improperly (1) instructed the jury that, if the evidence was subject to two different interpretations, the jury was "not required to accept the interpretation consistent with innocence," and (2) failed to instruct the jury, in accordance with instruction 2.6-11 of Connecticut's model criminal jury instructions, that it must consider each count separately and that a verdict reached on one count does not control the verdict on any other count.

We conclude that the trial court improperly failed to order that exculpatory and relevant impeachment material contained in the victims’ psychiatric records be turned over to the defense. Because we cannot conclude that this error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand the case for a new trial. We also address the defendant's remaining confrontation clause claim because it is likely to arise again at a new trial and conclude that the trial court improperly precluded cross-examination of the victims’ mothers concerning their U visa applications. Finally, we agree with the defendant's claims of instructional error.

The following facts, which the jury reasonably could have found, and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. C and D, who are sisters, emigrated to the United States from Brazil in 2004. Thereafter, C gave birth to two daughters, J and S, and D gave birth to one daughter, B. C and the defendant began dating in 2011. In 2012, they moved in together, and, in 2013, they married and had a son.

On the evening of February 11, 2015, B was spending the night at C's house. J was then nine years old, B was about to turn nine, and S was six years old. At around 3 a.m., C went into the girls’ bedroom to check on them.5 She noticed that all three girls were sleeping in the same bed and that the clothes they were wearing were different from the ones they had worn to bed. Suspicious, C pulled back the covers and discovered that B's pajama bottoms were pulled down to her knees. "[S]hocked" by what she saw, C shook the girls awake and instructed B to pull her pajama bottoms up. She then returned to her bedroom and woke the defendant, asking him "if he had anything that he needed to tell [her]." The defendant asked her "why [she] was asking him that ...." C replied, "because I went to the girls’ bedroom, and [B] had her pajama bottoms around her knees ...." The defendant responded, "well, you should ask her about that" and "went back to sleep ...." Too upset to sleep, C "spent the rest of the [early] morning thinking about what might have happened."

At around 7:30 a.m., C confronted the girls and demanded that they tell her why B's pajama bottoms had been around her knees. B responded, "oh ... we were playing with this bear." C asked them where they "learn[ed] to play like that" with the bear, stating that "something strange [was] happening" and that she needed to know immediately where they learned to play like that. C could see that the girls were "getting nervous," so she told them that, if they did not answer her, she would "call the police because something [was] very strange." At this point, J "started shaking, saying, no, no." B then turned to J and said, "tell her," and J responded, "it's [the defendant]. He shows us videos on the iPad."6

By then, C "was getting very upset" and took J to another room to talk privately with her. There, she asked J about the videos and whether the defendant had done to her "what [she] saw in the videos ...." When J answered, "yes," C told her that she was going to call the police. Both J and B shouted for her not to do so, but C insisted.

The defendant woke up before the police arrived, unaware of what was happening. When he came out of his bedroom, he asked C whether she had received an answer from B about why her pajama bottoms were down. C responded that B "didn't tell [her] anything." The defendant told C that she was acting "strange" and went to prepare a bottle for their son.

Danbury Police Officer Jonathan Contreras arrived at the house a short time later. The first thing he did was gather everyone in the living room. Because C does not speak English, she instructed J to tell Contreras what had happened. J informed him that the defendant had sexually abused her and B. Until that moment, J had not mentioned that B had also been abused. When J finished speaking, the defendant appeared "confused" and asked J, "love, why would you say that? Why ... would you lie?" Given the nature of the complaint, police protocol required Contreras to summon a detective from the police department's special victims unit. He then separated the defendant from the rest of the family and waited for the detective to arrive. When Detective Kevin Zaloski arrived, the defendant was permitted to gather his belongings and to leave. The defendant never returned to the family home.

A week after J's disclosure, J and B were interviewed separately by Donna Meyer, a child forensic interviewer and consultant to the multidisciplinary investigation team assigned to investigate J's accusations. Video recordings of the interviews were entered into evidence at the defendant's trial and played for the jury. Transcripts of the interviews were also entered into evidence. During the interviews, Meyer gave the girls drawings of a naked male and a naked female for them to indicate where on their bodies the defendant had touched them.

During J's interview, Meyer asked J, "[s]o, what did you come here to talk to me about today?" J asked Meyer whether she was referring to "what happened at [her] house ...." J then stated, "um, [the police] ... came to my house ... one day because, um, because ... my mom woke up ... and found that ... [B's] pants were down. ... But I didn't ... so, um ... I told her a story ... but it's actually true." Meyer asked J what story she had told her mother, and J responded that one day, while her mother was at the store, the defendant "grabbed [her] on the hips and ... put [her] on [her mother's] bed ...." Meyer then reassured J that she was "doing a good job," and J continued, "he ... took out his thing ... [b]ut, so then he did it and then um, I ran away to my room because I didn't want to see him anymore. ... And then he said for me ... to not tell my mom." Meyer asked J whether "this thing that happened with [the defendant happened] one time or more than one time ...." J responded, "[m]ore." Meyer later asked J, "what was the first thing [the defendant did] when he brought you to your mom's room?" J answered, "[h]e stuck his thing out."

Meyer continued, "so he took his thing out and then what was the next thing he did?" J replied, "he didn't put it on me but like, he put it like on my pants ... [but] I got away, so then, um, um, I ran away like, to my bedroom." Meyer responded, "before you got away, did [the defendant] ever make you touch his thing or do [something] to his thing? Did he ever do anything to his thing?" J replied, "[n]o." When Meyer responded, "[n]o? OK," J stated, [o]h! Yea, yea, yea, he would get his saliva like this and then put it on ... [h]is thing. ... And he said it felt good ... and he said it ... would be hard so, but sometimes ... he told me secrets but and then he told me something if like if I was telling secrets with him, but I said yes, but actually I was lying." Meyer later asked J to tell her more about the time "when [the defendant] put the saliva on [his thing] ...." J responded, "I don't think he did it. ... He told me [about it]. He said he does it in the bathroom, I think." Meyer asked J whether the defendant had ever made or wanted her "to do that to him," and J responded, "[n]ope." When Meyer replied, "[n]o? OK," J stated, "[o]h yea! He said for me like, to touch his thing. ... But I didn't want to ... so I didn't." Meyer then continued, "OK. Was there ever a time that he made you touch it?" J responded, "[n]ope." When Meyer said, "[n]o? OK," J stated, "he said for me to ... touch his thing, but, um, but I didn't. I said no."

When asked to describe "a time that something happened in the living room," J responded, "like, me and [B] ... were ... at my house ... [a]nd then my mom and my sister went to take a bath ... so then, um, [the defendant] called us and said come here, so he stuck his thing on us." When asked to indicate where he stuck his thing, J responded, "on the back and on the front [indicating her vagina and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • State v. Velasquez-Mattos
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • September 12, 2023
    ... ... witness." (Citations omitted; emphasis omitted; internal ... quotation marks omitted.) State v. Juan A. G.-P., ... 346 Conn. 132, 166-68, 287 A.3d 1060 (2023) ...          "[W]hether ... a trial court's ... restriction ... ...
  • Chavez v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • November 9, 2023
    ...their U-Visa applications to show that they may have been motivated to offer testimony beneficial to the State due to those applications. Id. at 1077. Outside the presence the jury, both mothers testified that they (1) did not learn about the existence of U-Visas until after their children'......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT