State v. Luurtsema

Decision Date24 December 2002
Docket Number(SC 16745)
Citation262 Conn. 179,811 A.2d 223
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Sullivan, C. J., and Borden, Katz, Vertefeuille and Zarella, Js. Glenn W. Falk, special public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Timothy J. Sugrue, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were James E. Thomas, state's attorney, and Dennis J. O'Connor, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).



The defendant, Peter Luurtsema, was convicted, after a jury trial, of attempted sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 (a) (2)1 and 53a-70 (a) (1),2 kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-92 (a) (2) (A),3 assault in the second degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-60 (a) (1),4 and, following a plea of nolo contendere, of being a persistent dangerous felony offender under General Statutes (Rev. to 1997) § 53a-40 (a).5 On appeal6 from the judgment of the trial court sentencing him to a total effective sentence of forty-five years imprisonment,7 the defendant claims that: (1) the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress the statement he gave to the police following his warrantless home arrest; and (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of kidnapping. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The trial court, Mulcahy, J., denied the defendant's motion to suppress his statement. Thereafter, the case was tried to a jury on part A of the information, and the defendant was convicted of attempted sexual assault in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree and assault in the second degree. The defendant then entered a plea of nolo contendere to part B of the information charging him with being a persistent dangerous felony offender, and the trial court, Clifford, J., accepted the plea. Thereafter, the trial court, Mulcahy, J., rendered judgment on the verdict and the plea. This appeal followed.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On the evening of April 21, 1998, the defendant visited the victim at her apartment in Manchester. During the course of the night, the defendant and the victim consumed several beers and smoked crack cocaine. At some point prior to midnight, the victim consented to oral sex from the defendant. At approximately 1 a.m., Larry Brown, a neighbor, visited the victim in her apartment while the defendant was still there. Outside the presence of the victim, the defendant asked Brown to leave because he wanted to be alone with the victim. Brown complied with the defendant's request. At the time Brown left, he did not observe any marks on the victim's face.

Shortly after Brown's departure, the defendant and the victim were seated next to each other on the couch. The defendant proceeded to pull the victim to the floor and remove her pants and underpants. While they were on the floor, the defendant forced the victim's legs apart in an extremely harsh manner and began manually choking her to the point where she could no longer breathe. The defendant then got up and moved toward the bathroom, at which time the victim ran screaming from her apartment, naked from the waist down, to a convenience store across the street where the police were summoned.

Officer Edward Ciolkosz, of the Manchester police department, arrived at the convenience store at approximately 2:30 a.m. The victim was quite distraught at this time and displayed visible facial and neck injuries. The victim could not confirm that the defendant actually struck her in the facial area. The testimony presented at trial, however, revealed that the defendant was the only person in the victim's company between 1 a.m., when, according to Brown's testimony, he did not recall seeing any physical injuries, and 2:30 a.m., when the police and other witnesses observed the victim's condition. Further, the testimony of Arkady Katsnelson, an associate state medical examiner, revealed that the victim's injuries were consistent with manual strangulation. Ciolkosz subsequently escorted the victim back to her apartment, which was found to be unoccupied.


The defendant first claims that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress the statement he gave to the police following his warrantless home arrest. We disagree.

At the outset, we set forth the standard of review. "Our standard of review of a trial court's findings and conclusions in connection with a motion to suppress is well defined. A finding of fact will not be disturbed unless it is clearly erroneous in view of the evidence and pleadings in the whole record . . . . [W]here the legal conclusions of the court are challenged, we must determine whether they are legally and logically correct and whether they find support in the facts set out in the memorandum of decision . . . ." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Blackman, 246 Conn. 547, 553, 716 A.2d 101 (1998). The issue presently before us is whether the trial court properly concluded that the defendant's statement was sufficiently attenuated from the taint of the unlawful arrest. None of the trial court's factual findings underlying its decision are in dispute. Thus, this issue raises purely a question of law, and our review is plenary. See State v. Clark, 255 Conn. 268, 279, 764 A.2d 1251 (2001); State v. Blackman, supra, 553.

The evidence on the motion to suppress was as follows. On April 22, 1998, Michael Morrissey, a detective for the Manchester police department, was assigned to investigate the case. Morrissey was informed that, in addition to being the subject of the complaint of the victim in this case, the defendant was the subject of an ongoing sexual assault investigation in connection with a prior incident. Morrissey determined that the present case involved more violence than the prior incident involved. In light of the information obtained during the investigation of the present case as well as the defendant's criminal history, Morrissey concluded that the defendant posed a threat to the community. On this basis, Morrissey went to the defendant's residence, without a warrant, for the purpose of arresting him. After knocking on the defendant's door without receiving an answer, Morrissey explained the circumstances to the superintendent of the building, who then granted him access to the defendant's residence. Once inside, Morrissey arrested the defendant.

Morrissey booked the defendant after transporting him to the Manchester police department at approximately 12:45 p.m. At 1 p.m. on the same afternoon, another member of the Manchester police department gave the defendant a standard notice of rights form as part of the standard booking procedure. Morrissey testified that the standard notice of rights sets forth a defendant's Miranda8 rights. At 10 p.m., after the defendant was again informed of his Miranda rights, Morrissey approached the defendant seeking to interview him. The defendant stated that he understood his rights and that he was willing to talk. Approximately one hour later, nearly eleven hours after the initial arrest, the defendant provided Morrissey with a written statement. In his statement, the defendant denied ever having oral sex or intercourse with the victim, but stated that at different times on the day in question, they had been "fooling around." The defendant further denied ever hitting or choking the victim and stated that he left her apartment at approximately 12:30 a.m. on April 22.

The trial court denied the defendant's motion to suppress and issued an oral decision for the record containing a complete statement of the factual and legal justifications underlying its denial of the defendant's motion. The trial court found that Morrissey's arrest of the defendant was supported by probable cause, but that the arrest, which took place inside the defendant's home, was unsupported by the requisite warrant. The court concluded, however, that there was nothing in the facts to indicate that Morrissey had gone to the defendant's home seeking evidence. The court found that Morrissey did not conduct a search once inside the defendant's home, and that no evidence was obtained from inside the home. The court also found that ten or eleven hours had elapsed between the time of the unlawful arrest and the defendant's statement. The trial court also examined the reasons proffered by Morrissey as to why the circumstances necessitated the immediate arrest of the defendant rather than the procurement of an arrest warrant. After reviewing Morrissey's testimony, the court held that, although the present facts did not satisfy either the emergency or exigency exception to the warrant requirement, "the issue [was] indeed a close one." It also found that the defendant had received Miranda warnings twice before giving the statement. On the basis of these findings, the trial court, after concluding that the emergency and exigency exceptions to the arrest warrant requirement were not satisfied in this case, determined, nevertheless, that the defendant's statement was sufficiently attenuated from the taint of the unlawful arrest. The court stated that the "[r]elevant factors to be considered in conducting an attenuation analysis are whether the defendant was given Miranda rights, the temporal proximity between the arrest and the statements sought to be suppressed, the presence of intervening circumstances and the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct." The trial court initially found a lack of temporal proximity, because ten or eleven hours had elapsed between the unlawful arrest and the defendant's statement. The court also determined that, under its interpretation of the controlling precedent; State v. Geisler, 222 Conn. 672, 610 A.2d 1225 (1992); either the passage of time or intervening circumstances could attenuate the taint of an...

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