State v. LaBreck

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtALCORN
Citation159 Conn. 346,269 A.2d 74
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Joel G. LaBRECK.
Decision Date06 May 1970

Page 74

269 A.2d 74
159 Conn. 346
STATE of Connecticut
v.
Joel G. LaBRECK.
Supreme Court of Connecticut.
May 6, 1970.

Igor I. Sikorsky, Jr., Special Public Defender, for appellant (defendant).

John D. LaBelle, State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, was George D. Stoughton, Chief Asst. State's Atty., for appellee (state).

Before ALCORN, HOUSE, THIM, RYAN and SHAPIRO *, JJ.

[159 Conn. 347] ALCORN, Chief Justice.

The defendant was tried to a jury on an indictment charging murder in the first degree in that the murder was committed while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a burglary. General Statutes § 53-9 (Rev. to 1968). The jury rendered a verdict of guilty and recommended a sentence of life imprisonment which the court imposed.

The defendant has appealed from the judgment, assigning as error that he was denied the right to have his attorney present during the grand jury proceedings, that the court erred in its charge to the jury and that pictures which were prejudicial to him were admitted in evidence. Assignments

Page 75

of error attacking the finding are abandoned. State v. Griffiths, 152 Conn. 48, 52, 203 A.2d 144.

The defendant offered no evidence at the trial. The state offered evidence to prove, and claimed to have proved, the following facts. The defendant and an accomplice had broken into a dwelling in West Hartford and were in the basement attempting to open a safe which was located there when the victim of the murder, a cleaning woman, entered the house on the morning of March 3, 1967. The victim discovered their presence and, while attempting to flee, was beaten over the head with a rifle barrel by the defendant. The victim was found, unconscious and bleeding, on the kitchen floor of the house and was taken to a hospital where she was found to be suffering from a fractured skull and a brain injury. She remained in a hospital until she died on October 24, 1967.

The record fails to disclose that the defendant was denied counsel before the grand jury although the statement that this occurred, which is made in the defendant's brief, is not disputed by the state. The defendant concedes that this claimed error is without[159 Conn. 348] merit under the settled law of this state. State v. Menillo, 159 Conn. 264, 274, 268 A.2d 667; State v. Stallings, 154 Conn. 272, 283, 224 A.2d 718.

The only portion of the court's charge which is before us is the short paragraph in which error is assigned. We assume, therefore, that the remainder of the charge was correct in law and that the jury followed the instructions given them. Intelisano v. Greenwell, 155 Conn. 436, 447, 232 A.2d 490. The single paragraph has been lifted out of context and it is impossible to determine its relation to the remaining subject matter of the charge. It would appear, however, to have come as a part of the court's charge concerning the burden of proof which rested on the state. The paragraph objected to is as follows: 'Now, as has been indicated to you, an accused person is not obliged to take the witness stand in his own behalf unless he wishes. It is necessary for the jury to remember that no burden rests upon the accused to prove himself innocent, but, on the contrary, as I have already pointed out, the burden is upon the state to prove the guilt of an accused beyond a reasonable doubt.'

At the conclusion of the entire charge counsel for the defendant objected to the court's 'commenting on the fact that Mr. LaBreck did not testify. I believe nothing should have been said. * * *' The claim now made is that in the absence of a request for such a charge by the defendant the charge violated the rule in Griffin v. California, 380 U.S. 609, 85 S.Ct. 1229, 14 L.Ed.2d 106. The Griffin rule established that it is improper for the prosecution to comment upon the failure of an accused person to take the...

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19 practice notes
  • Hall v. Burns, No. 13711
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • January 23, 1990
    ...value as evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect." Pisel v. Stamford Hospital, supra, at 324, 430 A.2d 1; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 269 A.2d 74 (1970). If the court finds that a photograph would confuse and mislead rather than assist the jury, it is within the court's disc......
  • State v. Piskorski
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 19, 1979
    ...jury proceedings. State v. Cobbs, supra; State v. Delgado, supra, 161 Conn. 539, 290 A.2d 338; State v. Vennard, supra; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 347-48, 269 A.2d 74; State v. Stallings, 154 Conn. 272, 282, 224 A.2d 718. The defendant argues, nevertheless, that since none of the abov......
  • State v. Haskins
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 21, 1982
    ...evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect. Thibodeau v. Connecticut Co., 139 Conn. 9, 14, 89 A.2d 223 [1952]"; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 351, 269 A.2d 74 (1970); State v. Smith, 174 Conn. 118, 122, 384 A.2d 347 (1977). Haskins' argument that the introduction of this evidence......
  • State v. DeJesus
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 4, 1984
    ...evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect. Thibodeau v. Connecticut Co., 139 Conn. 9, 14, 89 A.2d 223 [1952]'; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 351, 269 A.2d 74 (1970); State v. Smith, 174 Conn. 118, 122, 384 A.2d 347 (1977)." State v. Haskins, 188 Conn. 432, 452-53, 450 A.2d 828 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Hall v. Burns, No. 13711
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • January 23, 1990
    ...value as evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect." Pisel v. Stamford Hospital, supra, at 324, 430 A.2d 1; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 269 A.2d 74 (1970). If the court finds that a photograph would confuse and mislead rather than assist the jury, it is within the court's disc......
  • State v. Piskorski
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 19, 1979
    ...jury proceedings. State v. Cobbs, supra; State v. Delgado, supra, 161 Conn. 539, 290 A.2d 338; State v. Vennard, supra; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 347-48, 269 A.2d 74; State v. Stallings, 154 Conn. 272, 282, 224 A.2d 718. The defendant argues, nevertheless, that since none of the abov......
  • State v. Haskins
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 21, 1982
    ...evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect. Thibodeau v. Connecticut Co., 139 Conn. 9, 14, 89 A.2d 223 [1952]"; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 351, 269 A.2d 74 (1970); State v. Smith, 174 Conn. 118, 122, 384 A.2d 347 (1977). Haskins' argument that the introduction of this evidence......
  • State v. DeJesus
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 4, 1984
    ...evidence outweighs its possible prejudicial effect. Thibodeau v. Connecticut Co., 139 Conn. 9, 14, 89 A.2d 223 [1952]'; State v. LaBreck, 159 Conn. 346, 351, 269 A.2d 74 (1970); State v. Smith, 174 Conn. 118, 122, 384 A.2d 347 (1977)." State v. Haskins, 188 Conn. 432, 452-53, 450 A.2d 828 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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