State v. Smith

Decision Date08 January 1969
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Stuart SMITH et al.

Alfonse C. Fasano, New Haven, for appellants (defendants).

David B. Salzman, Asst. State's Atty., with whom, on the brief, were George R. Tiernan, State's Atty., Richard P. Sperandeo and Robert K. Walsh, Asst. State's Attys., for appellee (State).

Before KING, C.J., and ALCORN, HOUSE, THIM and PYAN, JJ.

ALCORN, Associate Justice.

The defendants were tried to the court on an information charging them with the crime of aggravated assault in violation of § 53-16 of the General Statutes. They were convicted of the lesser crime of simple assault and have appealed from the judgment, assigning errors in the finding, in rulings on evidence, and in the ultimate conclusion of guilt.

The finding is not subject to correction in any material respect. From it, the facts, so far as material, may be summarized as follows. At about 12:30 a.m. on an August morning two sergeants of the Hamden police, not in uniform, were riding, in an automobile which bore no police identification, along a public street in Hamden. As they passed a gasoline filling station, they saw an unlighted automobile parked, with its motor running and its rear trunk lid open, near the gasoline pumps. The filling station was not open for business, but lights in the bay area and the station office were lighted. One of the defendants was walking from the station door toward the parked automobile, and the other stood at the rear of the car. The officers drove past the filling station, turned around and drove back, and stopped their car near the vehicle parked at the filling station. Both defendants were than standing beside the parked vehicle, the trunk of which was still open. One of the officers asked the defendant Stuart Smith why he and his companion were there, examined Smith's operator's license and the car registration, and then leaned over to look inside the open car trunk. As he did so, both defendants grabbed the trunk lid and pushed it down to close it, one of them saying, at the same time, that, if the officers wished to search the car, they should get a search warrant. The officer was struck a violent blow on the head when the lid was slammed down, and his head was cut. The other officer immediately arrested the defendants, and then the contents of the car trunk, consisting of a carton of 'Win-A-Check' envelopes, a set of automobile marker plates, and what appeared to be a full face mask, were removed. The 'Win-A-Check' envelopes are distributed by oil companies to promote the sale of gasoline.

The trial court concluded that the officer was not conducting a search by looking in the open trunk of the car; that the defendants intended to frighten and to harm the officer by slamming the lid of the trunk on his head; that there was no search and seizure of the contents of the car trunk until after, and as incident to, the arrest of the defendants; and that both defendants committed a simple assault on the officer.

The defendants claim that their guilt was not established because proof was lacking of an intent to injure or harm the officer and that this was a necessary element of the crime of simple assault. They argue that they were justified in closing the car trunk in order to defeat an illegal search and that the injury to the officer was purely accidental when his head got in the way of the closing.

The issue thus raised is disposed of by the court's conclusions, which cannot be disturbed, that the defendants did intend to frighten and to harm the officer. Intent is a question of fact, the determination of which should stand unless the conclusion drawn by the trier is an unreasonable one. Walter v. Home National Bank & Trust Co., 148 Conn. 635, 638, 173 A.2d 503; State v. Nathan, 138 Conn. 485, 488, 86 A.2d 322. A person's intention may be inferred from his conduct; State v. Pallanck, 146 Conn. 527, 531, 152 A.2d 633; Kiernan v. Borst, 144 Conn. 1, 6, 126 A.2d 569; and every person is conclusively presumed to intend the natural and necessary consequences of his acts. Peerless Mfg. Co. v. Goehring, 131 Conn. 93, 95, 38 A.2d 5. The court has found that, as the officer leaned forward to look in the trunk of the car, both defendants grabbed the lid of the trunk and slammed it down on his head. On these facts the conclusions that the defendants intended to frighten and to harm the officer...

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39 cases
  • State v. Moye
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 9 Octubre 1979
    ...presumed to intend the natural and necessary consequences of his acts; State v. Holley, supra, 26, 381 A.2d 539; State v. Smith, 157 Conn. 351, 354, 254 A.2d 447 (1969); but it has never ruled on the issue raised in this appeal-the constitutionality of the use of this presumption in the cha......
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    • 19 Junio 1979
    ...A.2d 776; State v. Carnegie, 158 Conn. 264, 273, 259 A.2d 628, cert. denied, 396 U.S. 992, 90 S.Ct. 488, 24 L.Ed.2d 455; State v. Smith, 157 Conn. 351, 355, 254 A.2d 447 . . . . 'Evidence is admissible when it tends to establish a fact in issue or to corroborate other direct evidence in the......
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    • 22 Octubre 1974
    ...difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt by direct evidence but it may be inferred from the conduct of the accused. State v. Smith, 157 Conn. 351, 354, 254 A.2d 447; State v. Farrah, supra. The necessary intent may be inferred from the circumstances and from what was done by the accused......
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