State v. King, (SC 15510)

Citation249 Conn. 645,735 A.2d 267
Decision Date27 July 1999
Docket Number(SC 15510)
CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut

Callahan, C. J., and Borden, Berdon, Norcott, Katz, Palmer and McDonald, Js. Mark Rademacher, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Judith Rossi, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were James E. Thomas, state's attorney, and Herbert Carlson, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).



A jury convicted the defendant, Kevin King, of one count each of capital felony in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-54b (5) and (7), as amended by Public Acts 1992, No. 92-260, ž 27,1 murder in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-54a, as amended by Public Acts 1992, No. 92-260, ž 26,2 and General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-8, as amended by Public Acts, Spec. Sess., June, 1992, No. 92-2,3 felony murder in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-54c, as amended by Public Acts 1992, No. 92-260, ž 28,4 sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-70, as amended by Public Acts 1992, No. 92-87, ž 3,5 and ž 53a-8 and burglary in the second degree in violation of General Statutes ž 53a-102,6 and two counts of risk of injury to a child in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53-217 and ž 53a-8. The state sought imposition of the death penalty on the capital felony count, and the trial court conducted a separate sentencing hearing, pursuant to General Statutes (Rev. to 1991) ž 53a-46a,8 before the same jury. The jury rendered a special verdict finding that the state had established an aggravating factor and that the defendant had proven a mitigating factor. The trial court rendered its judgment of conviction in accordance with the jury verdict, and, as required by ž 53a-46a (f), imposed a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release on the capital felony count.9 The trial court also sentenced the defendant to ten years imprisonment on each of the second degree burglary and risk of injury to a child counts, those sentences to run consecutively to one another and to the defendant's sentence on the capital felony count, for a total effective sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release, plus thirty years.

On appeal,10 the defendant contends that the trial court improperly: (1) rejected the defendant's claim that the state, during jury selection, had exercised its peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner; (2) excluded certain evidence in violation of the defendant's right to present a defense as guaranteed by the compulsory process clause of the sixth amendment to the United States constitution; (3) restricted the defendant's cross-examination of one of the state's witnesses in violation of the rules of evidence and the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment; (4) failed to instruct the jury that it could not convict the defendant of capital felony under ž 53a-54b (5) unless the state proved that the defendant had held the victim for ransom; and (5) imposed consecutive prison terms on the capital felony count and on the second degree burglary and risk of injury to a child counts. We reject each of these claims and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The evidence adduced at trial revealed the following facts. In December, 1992, Gryzna Urbanski resided at 207 Winfield Drive in New Britain with her two daughters, Patricia (victim), who was fifteen years old at that time, and Justyna, who was two months shy of three years old.11 At approximately 8 p.m. on December 20, 1992, Gryzna, who worked the night shift, left for work. The victim remained at home to care for Justyna.

At some time after 4 a.m. on December 21, neighbors of the Urbanskis were awakened by screams and the sound of a young child crying. Neighbors saw a light go on on the second floor of the Urbanski home, and observed, through the second story window, the silhouette of a person moving about. The light went out shortly thereafter. Neighbors also observed a dark red Volkswagen Jetta (Jetta) parked near the Urbanski home.

The neighbors then saw an individual inside the Urbanski home push out the screen of a second story window, toss a duffel bag out the window and jump to the ground. The individual, who was described as being approximately five feet, five inches tall and slight of build, was wearing a ski mask, dark clothes and boots, and appeared to be wearing gloves. Neighbors began converging on the scene, and the intruder, who had been running in the direction of the Jetta, changed direction to elude them. One of the neighbors flung a baseball bat at the fleeing intruder, striking him on the leg. The intruder nevertheless managed to escape.

Shortly thereafter, Officer Peter Sheldrick of the New Britain police department was dispatched to the Urbanski home. When Sheldrick arrived, he found the front and rear doors locked. He observed, however, that a basement window was missing and that a metal window frame was lying on the ground nearby. Sheldrick entered the residence through the missing window and proceeded to the first floor, where he was joined by a second police officer, Bernard Moreno. Sheldrick and Moreno then proceeded to the second floor, where they first entered Justyna's bedroom and found her in bed, awake and crying. They then proceeded to a second bedroom and forced open the door, which had been braced shut from inside the bedroom with a large piece of furniture. Upon entering the bedroom, the officers found the victim lying face down on the bed, wearing only a nightshirt that had been lifted above her hips, with a piece of duct tape over her mouth. She was unresponsive and bleeding from various wounds.

Sheldrick called an ambulance and, at approximately 5 a.m., the victim was taken to a hospital, where, after undergoing emergency surgery, she died several hours later. An autopsy revealed hemorrhaging from the superficial vessels in her head and cheeks, indicating that she had been strangled. She also had suffered cuts and abrasions on her neck and hands, stab wounds to her face and body, at least one of which had pierced her heart, and blunt force trauma injuries to her head and torso.

An investigation by the police revealed that the Jetta parked near the Urbanski home was owned by Cari Standish, the defendant's girlfriend. When the police discovered the Jetta shortly after the murder, its engine was still warm.

Standish was interviewed by the police, and explained that she had arrived at the defendant's home at 100 Pentlow Avenue in New Britain at approximately 11:30 p.m. on December 20, 1992. She parked her Jetta in front of the defendant's home and locked it. She and the defendant went to bed at about 1:30 a.m. on December 21.

When Standish awoke at approximately 6:20 a.m. on December 21, the defendant was asleep in bed beside her. Standish noticed, however, that the Jetta was no longer where she had parked it. Standish then telephoned her mother, who informed her that the police had her car and wanted to speak to her. Standish asked the defendant if he knew anything about the Jetta's whereabouts, because he had a key to the vehicle and permission from Standish to use it. The defendant acknowledged that he had taken the Jetta during the night, and that he and a friend had broken into a house, intending to burglarize it. The defendant further stated that, while they were on the second floor, an occupant emerged from a room, saw them and screamed. According to the defendant, his friend then stabbed the occupant in the neck with a pocket knife.

The police recovered a ski mask and a pair of blood-stained gloves in the parking lot of a housing complex located along the route a person would take if traveling on foot from the Urbanski home to the defendant's home. Witnesses testified that the defendant often wore a ski mask similar to the one found near the housing complex; they also identified the blood-stained gloves as those of the defendant. DNA analysis of the blood on the gloves established that it matched the victim's blood.12 In addition, the defendant's height and build matched the physical description of the fleeing masked intruder that the Urbanskis' neighbors had given to the police.

The police learned that the defendant had been introduced to the victim by a mutual friend, Timothy Prevo, in early December, 1992, when Prevo and the defendant visited the victim at her home. During that visit, the defendant observed the layout of the Urbanski home, along with its contents, which included a stereo and a large television set. The defendant also learned of Gryzna Urbanski's work schedule. After their visit to the victim's home, the defendant and Prevo spoke to the victim on the telephone several times. The calls ceased, however, shortly before December 10, 1992, when Prevo left the state to join the United States Navy. After the defendant's arrest, the police executed a search warrant that had been obtained for his home and seized some clothing that they found in the washing machine. Forensic tests revealed that a piece of acrylic fiber found on one of the pillows at the Urbanski home was similar to a fiber that had been taken from a sweatshirt that the police had seized from the defendant's washing machine.

The police also obtained a search warrant for samples of the defendant's bodily fluids. The warrant was executed at New Britain General Hospital, where medical personnel observed fresh scratch marks on the defendant's shoulder and chest. DNA analysis of a sample of seminal fluid that had been taken from the victim's vagina indicated that it could have come from only 1 percent of the population, including the defendant. Furthermore, human hairs found on the ski mask were similar to hair samples taken from both the...

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