State v. Rafael Medrano., No. 31271.

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtDiPENTIMA, C.J., and ROBINSON and MIHALAKOS, Js.
Citation27 A.3d 52,131 Conn.App. 528
PartiesSTATE of Connecticutv.Rafael MEDRANO.
Decision Date20 September 2011
Docket NumberNo. 31271.

131 Conn.App. 528
27 A.3d 52

STATE of Connecticut
v.
Rafael MEDRANO.

No. 31271.

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued May 24, 2011.Decided Sept. 20, 2011.


[27 A.3d 55]

James B. Streeto, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state's attorney, and Anne Mahoney, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).DiPENTIMA, C.J., and ROBINSON and MIHALAKOS, Js.MIHALAKOS, J.

[131 Conn.App. 530] The state charged the defendant, Rafael Medrano, with one count of murder as a principal and accessory, in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a–54a and 53a–8, and one count of carrying a dangerous weapon, in violation of General Statutes § 53–206. At trial, the jury found the defendant not guilty of murder but guilty of the lesser included offense of manslaughter in the first degree, in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a–55 (a)(1) and 53a–8, and the weapons charge. The trial court rendered judgment of conviction in accordance with the verdict.

In this appeal, the defendant claims that (1) his conviction of both manslaughter in the first degree and carrying a dangerous weapon violated the fifth amendment prohibition against double jeopardy, and (2) the prosecutor committed prosecutorial impropriety that deprived him of his right to a fair trial.1 We hold that [131 Conn.App. 531] the conviction of manslaughter in the first degree and carrying a dangerous weapon does not violate the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. We also hold that the defendant was not

[27 A.3d 56]

deprived of a fair trial as a result of prosecutorial impropriety. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. On June 22, 2007, the defendant attended a high school graduation party at a multifamily house on New Britain Avenue in Hartford hosted by Catherine Perez. Accompanying the defendant to the party were several friends or acquaintances, including his roommate, Angelley Torres, his friend, Omar Sosa, and Edwin Candelario. The celebration devolved into turmoil when a dispute erupted amongst the partygoers. This occurred when Torres began arguing with another guest at the party after that guest pushed him. That verbal altercation escalated when Joel Quinones began yelling at and aggressively confronting Torres. In response to this display of aggression, Torres pushed Quinones. The defendant, who was standing nearby, tried in vain to stop the disagreement from escalating further. Quinones however, drew a knife, cut the defendant on the right arm, then chased Torres out of the house and into the front yard where he stabbed Torres in the back.

After witnessing Quinones stab Torres, the defendant pushed Quinones away from Torres. At this point a female partygoer hit the defendant in the shoulder with a stick. Quinones then threw his knife at the defendant, who was successfully able to dodge the oncoming weapon. Agitated by the blow to his shoulder with a stick and the knife thrown at him, the defendant chased the fleeing Quinones into the street. Quinones tripped on the corner of the sidewalk and fell to the ground as the defendant gave chase. The defendant came upon Quinones, and they struggled with each other briefly. The melee ended when the defendant stabbed Quinones [131 Conn.App. 532] twice in the side with a pocketknife he had been carrying. The blade of the pocketknife was less than four inches long and was carried habitually by the defendant in order to perform his duties at the automotive garage at which he was employed. An associate medical examiner testified at trial that these stab wounds were the cause of Quinones' death.

After he stabbed Quinones, the defendant proceeded back up the street toward the house party where his car was parked. The defendant then fled the scene with Sosa and Torres and convened in the basement at Sosa's home. There, the defendant used alcohol to clean blood off his knife. He cleaned Torres' knife, which also was bloodstained. The defendant and Torres then placed the knives in the trunk of the defendant's car under a spare tire. During that time, the defendant telephoned his girlfriend, Mary DeJesus. He told her: “I stabbed a boy. Don't say nothing. I'll talk to you later....”

The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with the crime of murder, in count one, and carrying a dangerous weapon, in count two. After a full hearing, the case was committed to the jury, which returned a verdict of not guilty on count one but guilty of the lesser included offense of intentional manslaughter in the first degree and guilty on count two. The court rendered judgment in accordance with this finding, sentencing the defendant to incarceration for twenty years for intentional manslaughter in the first degree and for three consecutive years thereafter on the count of carrying a dangerous weapon. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.

I
DOUBLE JEOPARDY

The defendant claims that his dual conviction of manslaughter in the first degree and carrying a dangerous [131 Conn.App. 533] violated the

[27 A.3d 57]

fifth amendment prohibition against double jeopardy. Because this claim of constitutional error was not preserved at trial, the defendant can prevail only if all of the conditions set forth in State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239–40, 567 A.2d 823 (1989), are met.2 We conclude that the defendant's right to a fair trial was not violated.

We set forth our standard of review and the principles that guide or analysis. “The double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment to the United States constitution provides: [N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.... This constitutional provision is applicable to the states through the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.... The Connecticut constitution provides coextensive protection, with the federal constitution, against double jeopardy. 3 ... This constitutional guarantee serves three separate functions: (1) It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. [2] It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. [3] And it [131 Conn.App. 534] protects against multiple punishments for the same offense [in a single trial].... The defendant's claim in [the present case] implicates the last of these three functions.

“The double jeopardy analysis in the context of a single trial is a two part process. First, the charges must arise out of the same act or transaction. Second, it must be determined whether the charged crimes are the same offense. Multiple punishments are forbidden only if both conditions are met.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Ferguson, 260 Conn. 339, 360–61, 796 A.2d 1118 (2002). There is no dispute in this case that the two crimes with which the defendant had been charged arose out of the same transaction. Therefore, the sole remaining question in the double jeopardy context is whether manslaughter in the first degree and carrying a dangerous weapon are the same offense for the purpose of that analysis.

“The traditional approach to analyzing whether two offenses constitute the same offense was set forth in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932).[W]here the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not.... Id., at 304, 52 S.Ct. 180 .... In conducting this inquiry, [the court] look[s] only to the relevant statutes, the

[27 A.3d 58]

information, and the bill of particulars, not to the evidence presented at trial.” (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Greco, 216 Conn. 282, 291, 579 A.2d 84 (1990).

In setting forth his double jeopardy argument, the defendant specifically notes that the weapon he used to kill the victim—a pocketknife with a blade less than four inches—did not, by itself, constitute a dangerous [131 Conn.App. 535] instrument within the meaning of § 53–206(a) 4 and General Statutes § 53a–3 (7); 5 and, to that end, only became a dangerous weapon under that statutory language at the moment it was used to kill the victim. Here, the defendant refers to § 53a–3 (7), which defines a “ ‘[d]angerous instrument’ ” as “any instrument, article or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used or attempted or threatened to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury....” The defendant, in other words, contends that factual circumstance rendered the pocketknife a dangerous weapon. The defendant further argues that that requisite factual circumstance did not exist until the state first established manslaughter in the first degree. Therefore, the defendant concludes that there is no element in the dangerous weapon charge that is not also contained in the manslaughter (or murder) charge—and, thus, in that sense, conviction of both crimes constitutes double jeopardy. We are not persuaded.

The Blockburger test requires us to examine the relevant statutes to determine whether each offense requires proof of a fact that the others do not. Manslaughter in the first degree requires (1) intent to cause serious physical injury and (2) death. See General Statutes § 53a–55 (a)(1). Carrying a dangerous weapon simply requires that one has carried a dangerous weapon or instrument. See General Statutes § 53–206(a). Guided [131 Conn.App. 536] by Blockburger, and in contradiction to the defendant's claim, manslaughter in the first degree does not require that one use, let alone carry, a dangerous weapon. For that matter, carrying a dangerous weapon does not require the intent element that first degree manslaughter mandates.

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13 practice notes
  • State v. Medrano, No. 18895.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 21, 2013
    ...Statutes §§ 53a–55 (a)(1) and 53a–8 and carrying a dangerous weapon in violation of General Statutes § 53–206.1State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 530, 27 A.3d 52 (2011). On appeal, the defendant claims that: (1) the prosecutor committed prosecutorial improprieties that deprived him of a f......
  • State v. Barry A., No. 33304.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2013
    ...in fulfilling his duties, must confine himself to the evidence in the record.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 541, 27 A.3d 52 (2011), aff'd, 308 Conn. 604, 65 A.3d 503 (2013). “[T]he privilege of counsel in addressing the jury ... must never be used......
  • State v. Francione, No. 32820.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • June 19, 2012
    ...unlikely to inflame the passions of the jury. Additionally, we consider the comments to be relatively benign. See State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 546, 27 A.3d 52 (prosecutor's description of defendant as “hunting down his prey” “is relatively benign compared to the more overt character......
  • State v. James, AC 32807
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 5, 2013
    ...the jury "to decide the case on its emotions rather than on a rational appraisal of the evidence." See State v. Medrano, 131 Conn. App. 528, 547, 27 A.3d. 52, cert. granted, 303 Conn. 912, 32 A.3d 965 (2011). In sum, when viewed in the full context of the surrounding arguments, we......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • State v. Medrano, No. 18895.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 21, 2013
    ...Statutes §§ 53a–55 (a)(1) and 53a–8 and carrying a dangerous weapon in violation of General Statutes § 53–206.1State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 530, 27 A.3d 52 (2011). On appeal, the defendant claims that: (1) the prosecutor committed prosecutorial improprieties that deprived him of a f......
  • State v. Barry A., No. 33304.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2013
    ...in fulfilling his duties, must confine himself to the evidence in the record.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 541, 27 A.3d 52 (2011), aff'd, 308 Conn. 604, 65 A.3d 503 (2013). “[T]he privilege of counsel in addressing the jury ... must never be used......
  • State v. Francione, No. 32820.
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • June 19, 2012
    ...unlikely to inflame the passions of the jury. Additionally, we consider the comments to be relatively benign. See State v. Medrano, 131 Conn.App. 528, 546, 27 A.3d 52 (prosecutor's description of defendant as “hunting down his prey” “is relatively benign compared to the more overt character......
  • State v. James, AC 32807
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • March 5, 2013
    ...as inviting the jury "to decide the case on its emotions rather than on a rational appraisal of the evidence." See State v. Medrano, 131 Conn. App. 528, 547, 27 A.3d. 52, cert. granted, 303 Conn. 912, 32 A.3d 965 (2011). In sum, when viewed in the full context of the surrounding arguments, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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