State v. Moreno

Decision Date08 February 2017
Docket NumberCR15206930
CourtConnecticut Superior Court
PartiesState of Connecticut v. Tony Moreno



Elpedio N. Vitale, J.

The defendant, Tony Moreno, stands charged in Docket No CR15-206930 with Murder, in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-54(a) and Risk of Injury to a Minor, in violation of C.G.S. § 53-21. The charges arise from events that are alleged to have occurred on July 15, 2015 in the City of Middletown at a location known as the Arrigoni Bridge.

On January 18, 2017, the defendant filed a Motion to Suppress Statements requesting that this court " suppress any and all statements made by the defendant on July 6, 2015 while at Hartford Hospital." The defendant claims in his motion that " the statements were obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment, the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Connecticut Constitutions, General Statutes § 54-10 and the psychiatrist-patient privilege." The defendant submitted a Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion. The State objects to the Motion.

On February 1, 2016, February 2, 2016, and February 6, 2016, the court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the Motion. The State presented the testimony of Officer Lee Buller and Detective Dane Semper of the Middletown Police Department Dr. Samira Solomon and Dr. Robert Brautigam from Hartford. Hospital, and Ann Kadlubowski, a Physicians Assistant now employed full-time at Jefferson Radiology in Hartford, but employed at the time of the alleged incident in a similar capacity at Hartford Hospital. The defense presented the testimony of Andrea Gaskins, Milagros Perez, and Egle Sierkevicieme, all employees of Hartford Hospital.

The testimony of each witness generally concerned the defendant's presence at Hartford Hospital (" Hospital") July 5 and July 6, 2015. The defendant was a patient receiving treatment at the Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (" ICU") during the time in question. While at the Hospital, the defendant was interrogated[1] by Detective Dane Semper and a portion of the interview was video recorded. Officer Lee Buller is alleged to have been present in the defendant's room at the time of Semper's interview as well as when the defendant conversed with Dr. Samira Solomon, a psychiatrist who was then working as a psychiatric fellow at the Hospital. The State contends that the defendant made oral statements to Detective Semper and Dr. Solomon. The statements to Dr. Solomon, made in Officer Buller's presence, were memorialized in a police report generated by Buller. The defendant has raised a number of claims related to the alleged oral declarations to Detective Semper and Dr. Solomon. The court will address each claim specifically raised in the defendant's memorandum and specifically raised at oral argument in turn, although many of the specific claims are related in their general implication of the claimed mental and physical condition of the defendant at the time the alleged oral statements were made.

The court heard oral argument on the Motion February 6, 2016. Although referenced in his Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion, at oral argument the defendant withdrew any claims made pursuant to State v. Stoddard, 206 Conn. 157, 169-60, 537 A.2d 446 (1988).

In reaching its conclusions, the court has fairly and impartially considered all of the evidence received at the hearing, evaluated the credibility of the witnesses; assessed the weight, if any, to be given specific evidence and measured the probative force of conflicting evidence; reviewed all exhibits, relevant statutes, and case law; and has drawn such inferences from the evidence, or facts established by the evidence, that it deems reasonable and logical.[2]

For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is hereby denied.[3]


Findings of Fact

Based on the evidence and the reasonable and logical inferences therefrom, the court finds the following facts:

On July 5, 2015, the defendant, Tony Moreno, sustained injuries as the result of leaping from the Arrigoni Bridge into the river below. The defendant was first transported to Middlesex Hospital, but was later transported via " Life Star" helicopter to Hartford Hospital. The defendant had attempted to commit suicide. The defendant sustained a nasal bone fracture, a collapsed left lung, swelling and bruising of his face and eyes, bruising to his right upper thigh, and a puncture wound below his right knee. There was no evidence presented of any brain injury. Upon arrival at Hartford Hospital in the early morning hours of July 6, 2015, the defendant was initially treated in the trauma room of the emergency department. Hartford Hospital records reflect that while the defendant was treated in the emergency department the following medications were administered between 1:28 a.m. and 3:45 a.m.: Ativan, Propofol, Versed, Fentanyl, and Veccurioum. Propofol is a sedative, with a common effect of sedation. It is used to keep patients calm and sedated, and is also used to ease the intubation process. Fentanyl is a " narcotic analgesic" used to relieve pain. Versed and Ativan are both sedatives, or anti-anxiety medications. Versed is a shorter acting medication. Veccurioum is most commonly used when a breathing tube is placed in a patient's throat, as it acts to help restrict involuntary muscle movement at the time of the intubation. State's Exhibit Four reflects that the defendant received 50 mcg of Propofol at 1:28 a.m. Between 1:40 a.m. and 2:24 a.m., the defendant received a total of 300 mcg of Fentanyl administered in 100 mcg doses approximately 20 minutes apart. He received another 100 mcg dose of Fentanyl at 3:45 a.m., and then 50 mcg of Fentanyl at 9:35 a.m. Both Propofol and Fentanyl are " short acting drugs."

Following his treatment in the emergency department, the defendant was brought to a patient room located on the ninth floor, unit 13 of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). At all times relevant to this proceeding, he was the only patient in the room. At some point following the defendant's arrival to his room on the ICU, Officer DiMassa of the Middletown Police Department was stationed therein in an effort to " monitor" the defendant. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on July 6, 2015, Officer Lee Buller of the Middletown Police Department arrived at the defendant's room. He had been directed by his supervisor to travel to Hartford Hospital to relieve DiMassa. Both DiMassa and Buller were in uniform. Once Buller arrived, DiMassa left the defendant's room and returned to the Middletown Police Department. He used Buller's police vehicle to return to the police department. At the time of Buller's arrival, the defendant was asleep. He had been intubated (a plastic tube placed in his throat to assist with breathing) at Middlesex Hospital prior to his transport to Hartford Hospital.

At the time of Buller's arrival at the hospital, Middletown police were also aware that the defendant had " dropped" his seven-month-old son Aaden Moreno from the Arrigoni Bridge prior to his own suicide attempt. Aaden Moreno's body had not yet been recovered at the time Buller arrived. In addition to being in uniform, Buller was in possession of a firearm, taser, and handcuffs. Buller was aware that Aaden Moreno was still missing. Buller had been instructed to notify Captain Wallace of the Middletown Police Department of the defendant's condition, and specifically, to inform Wallace if the defendant was no longer asleep. The defendant wore soft " medical restraints" on both wrists that were tied to his bed. The restraints are used in the ICU for the protection of patients who are intubated. The restraints are designed to prevent patients from attempting to remove a breathing tube or other medical lines, as patients may become restless or agitated as they wake up. The restraints are used on an intubated patient whether a patient has attempted suicide or not. The defendant's injuries were not considered to be life threatening. His treatment plan included " weaning" him off the plastic breathing tube.

At approximately 11:40 a.m. on July 6, 2015, the defendant was examined by Ann Kadlubowski, a physicians assistant assigned to the trauma surgery service. At the time Kadlubowski examined the defendant, he was conscious. She conducted a " tertiary exam, " which is designed to locate any injuries that may have avoided detection in the emergency department initially. She also questioned the defendant during the exam. The defendant had " just been" extubated prior to her arrival, meaning he no longer was utilizing the breathing tube. Once the defendant's breathing tube was removed, he was considered stable with non-life threatening injuries, and ordinarily would have then been transferred out of the ICU to a different level of care. However, due to the nature of the investigation regarding his missing son, and its effect on staff, it was decided he should nevertheless remain in his original room in the ICU. Although Kadlubowski could not provide an exact time the extubation occurred, any Propofol the defendant had been receiving would have been stopped prior to the extubation in order to " give [Moreno] the best chance to breathe on his own" and to " see if he follows commands." Prior to extubation, the defendant would have been assessed to determine if he was awake and alert, and " off" sedation.

Typically any medication is stopped " 20 minutes to half an hour" prior to extubation. Kadlubowski found no further evidence of injury. As a part of her examination, she administered tests pursuant to the Glasgow Coma Scale (" GCS"). The GCS is a set scale that measures the level of consciousness or coma....

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