State v. Pond, No. 19074.

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtPALMER, J.
Citation108 A.3d 1083,315 Conn. 451
PartiesSTATE Of Connecticut v. Terrell Williams POND.
Decision Date10 February 2015
Docket NumberNo. 19074.

315 Conn. 451
108 A.3d 1083

STATE Of Connecticut
v.
Terrell Williams POND.

No. 19074.

Supreme Court of Connecticut.

Argued Feb. 10, 2014.
Decided Feb. 10, 2015.


108 A.3d 1085

Leonard C. Boyle, deputy chief state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Michael Dearington, state's attorney, and John C. Lion, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellant (state).

Kevin Munn, certified legal intern, with whom were Timothy H. Everett, assigned counsel, and, on the brief, Bryce Petruccelli, certified legal intern, for the appellee (defendant).

ROGERS, C.J., and PALMER, ZARELLA, EVELEIGH, McDONALD, ESPINOSA and ROBINSON, Js.

Opinion

PALMER, J.

315 Conn. 453

General Statutes § 53a–48 (a), Connecticut's criminal conspiracy statute, provides that “[a] person is guilty of conspiracy when, with intent that conduct constituting a crime be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct, and any one of them commits an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy.”1 The dispositive issue presented by this certified appeal is whether, to be convicted of conspiracy, a defendant must specifically intend that every element of the planned offense be accomplished, even an element that itself carries no specific intent requirement. Because we are not persuaded that the legislature intended to punish offenders for conspiring to commit crimes that they never agreed or intended to commit, we conclude that § 53a–48 (a) does impose such a requirement.

The charges in this case arose from an incident in which the defendant, Terrell Williams Pond, and his friend, Montel Harris, allegedly approached the victim,

315 Conn. 454

Stanislaw Grzadko, on a public street, and Harris displayed a carbon dioxide (CO2) pistol (air pistol) while demanding that Grzadko surrender the contents of his pockets. A jury found the defendant not guilty of attempt to commit robbery in the second degree but found him guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2007) § 53a–135 (a)(2)2 and

108 A.3d 1086

§ 53a–48 (a). The trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict,3 and the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, claiming, among other things, that the trial court improperly had failed to instruct the jury that, to find the defendant guilty of the conspiracy charge, it must find that he had specifically intended that the planned robbery would involve the display or threatened use of what Harris represented to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.4 The Appellate Court agreed with the defendant, reversed the judgment of the trial court, and remanded the case for a new trial. State v. Pond, 138 Conn.App. 228, 238–39, 50 A.3d 950 (2012). We granted the state's petition for certification to appeal, limited to the following question: “Did the Appellate Court properly determine that in order to [establish that] a defendant [is guilty] of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of ... §§ 53a–48 (a) and 53a–135 (a)(2), the state must prove that the defendant conspirator had the specific intent that there would be a display or threat of the use

315 Conn. 455

of what was represented to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, even if that specific intent is not required for proof of [that element of] the underlying crime of robbery in the second degree?” State v. Pond, 307 Conn. 933, 56 A.3d 714 (2012).5 We answer the certified question in the affirmative and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

The opinion of the Appellate Court, as supplemented by the record, sets forth the following facts that the jury reasonably could have found. “On October 27, 2008, [Grzadko] ... ate dinner and then went for his evening walk.... [W]hile he was walking on the Dixwell Avenue sidewalk [in the town of Hamden], he was approached from behind by the defendant and ... Harris, both of whom were riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Harris approached [Grzadko] on his left, the defendant approached on his right.... Harris asked [Grzadko] where he was going and then demanded that he stop, repeating the order ‘two [or] three times....' When [Grzadko] continued to walk, the defendant pushed his bicycle in front of [him], forcing him to stop. With [Grzadko] now unable to move forward, Harris raised his jacket and lifted the handle of what appeared to be a gun, [which] later [was] determined to be [an air] pistol, from his waistband, asking [Grzadko], ‘do you know what it is?’ When [Grzadko] responded, ‘yes, yes, I know,’ and as the defendant continued to block [Grzadko] from moving, Harris ordered [Grzadko] to remove everything from his pockets. Rather than turn his belongings over to the two young men, [Grzadko] turned to the side and ran into traffic on Dixwell Avenue in order to escape. The defendant and Harris rode off

315 Conn. 456

on their bicycles. Shortly thereafter, [Grzadko] called the Hamden police and reported the incident. Later that evening, the Hamden police detained the defendant and Harris, and [Grzadko] later identified them as the two young men who had accosted

108 A.3d 1087

him.” State v. Pond, supra, 138 Conn.App. at 231–32, 50 A.3d 950.

The defendant was charged with attempt to commit robbery in the second degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree. The case was tried to a jury, and the defendant testified in his own defense. In addition to denying that he was one of the perpetrators of the alleged holdup, the defendant specifically denied that he was aware that Harris was carrying an air pistol on the evening in question. The only evidence that the state proffered with regard to the alleged conspiracy was Grzadko's testimony describing the few minutes during which the attempted robbery occurred. Nevertheless, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the conspiracy count and not guilty on the attempt count.

The opinion of the Appellate Court sets forth the following additional facts concerning the trial court's jury instructions. “After reading the conspiracy statute to the jury, giving general instructions on what was and was not required to prove an agreement and instructing on the necessity of an overt act, the court stated: ‘The third element is that the defendant had the intent to commit robbery in the second degree. The intent for that crime is that at the time of the agreement he intended to commit larceny. The defendant may not be found guilty unless the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he specifically intended to commit a larceny when he entered into the agreement. In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had an agreement with one or more other persons to commit robbery in the second degree, at least one of the coconspirators did an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, and the defendant

315 Conn. 457

specifically intended to deprive the owner of his property.’ ”6 Id., at 237–38, 50 A.3d 950.

On appeal to the Appellate Court, the defendant claimed, among other things, that the trial court improperly had failed to instruct the jury that, to be guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree under §§ 53a–135 (a)(2) and 53a–48 (a), the defendant must have specifically intended that his coconspirator would display or threaten the use of what the coconspirator would represent to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.7 Id., at 231, 236, 50 A.3d 950. In addressing the defendant's claim, the Appellate Court relied on this court's decision in

108 A.3d 1088

State v. Padua, 273 Conn. 138, 869 A.2d 192 (2005), for its conclusion that § 53a–48 (a) “requires specific intent to bring about all of the elements of the conspired offense, even those that do not by themselves carry a specific intent [requirement].” (Emphasis in original.)

315 Conn. 458

State v. Pond, supra, 138 Conn.App. at 234, 50 A.3d 950. The Appellate Court interpreted Padua to mean that, “in order to prove [that] the defendant [is] guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of [§§] 53a–135 (a)(2) [and 53a–48 (a) ], the state needed to prove that he and his coconspirator specifically had an agreement to display a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and that the defendant had the specific intent that such a weapon or instrument would be displayed.” Id. Concluding that the trial court's failure to instruct the jury in accordance with this principle as to an essential element of the charged crime was not harmless; id., at 239, 50 A.3d 950 ; the Appellate Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for a new trial. Id.

Judge Borden issued a separate concurrence in which he agreed with the Appellate Court...

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47 practice notes
  • State v. Felix R., No. 19278.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • October 6, 2015
    ...construction, an ambiguity arises whenever statutory language is subject to more than one plausible interpretation. See State v. Pond,315 Conn. 451, 468, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015)(“[b]ecause the statutory language is subject to multiple, plausible interpretations, and it does not expressly addre......
  • Salters v. Comm'r of Corr., AC 38371.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • August 29, 2017
    ...and [2] the intent to commit the offense which is the object of the conspiracy." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Pond , 315 Conn. 451, 467–68, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015).The trial court in the present case instructed the jury on the entire statutory definition of intentionally under ......
  • Cator v. Comm'r of Corr., AC 39795
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 17, 2018
    ...omitted.) State v. Vega , 128 Conn. App. 20, 29 n.3, 17 A.3d 1060, cert. denied, 301 Conn. 919, 21 A.3d 463 (2011).4 See State v. Pond , 315 Conn. 451, 467–68, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015) ("[c]onspiracy ... is a specific intent crime, with the intent divided into two elements: [1] the intent to ag......
  • Gonzalez v. Warden, State Prison, CV154007014S
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • November 22, 2019
    ...are within the defendant’s knowledge." Id. [3] Also instructive to this analysis are our Supreme Court’s decisions in State v. Pond, 315 Conn. 451, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015), and State v. Flemke, 315 Conn. 500, 108 A.3d 1073 (2015). In Pond, our Supreme Court considered whether the state must p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • State v. Felix R., No. 19278.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • October 6, 2015
    ...construction, an ambiguity arises whenever statutory language is subject to more than one plausible interpretation. See State v. Pond,315 Conn. 451, 468, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015)(“[b]ecause the statutory language is subject to multiple, plausible interpretations, and it does not expressly addre......
  • Salters v. Comm'r of Corr., AC 38371.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • August 29, 2017
    ...and [2] the intent to commit the offense which is the object of the conspiracy." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Pond , 315 Conn. 451, 467–68, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015).The trial court in the present case instructed the jury on the entire statutory definition of intentionally under ......
  • Cator v. Comm'r of Corr., AC 39795
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • April 17, 2018
    ...omitted.) State v. Vega , 128 Conn. App. 20, 29 n.3, 17 A.3d 1060, cert. denied, 301 Conn. 919, 21 A.3d 463 (2011).4 See State v. Pond , 315 Conn. 451, 467–68, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015) ("[c]onspiracy ... is a specific intent crime, with the intent divided into two elements: [1] the intent to ag......
  • Gonzalez v. Warden, State Prison, CV154007014S
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • November 22, 2019
    ...are within the defendant’s knowledge." Id. [3] Also instructive to this analysis are our Supreme Court’s decisions in State v. Pond, 315 Conn. 451, 108 A.3d 1083 (2015), and State v. Flemke, 315 Conn. 500, 108 A.3d 1073 (2015). In Pond, our Supreme Court considered whether the state must p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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