State v. Velez

Decision Date24 March 2009
Docket NumberNo. 29283.,29283.
Citation113 Conn.App. 347,966 A.2d 743
CourtConnecticut Court of Appeals
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Anthony VELEZ.

Alice Osedach, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

Melissa L. Streeto, assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Scott J. Murphy, state's attorney, and Kevin J. Murphy, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).



On September 19, 2004, the defendant, Anthony Velez, stabbed the victim Willie Vines, who died as a result of the wounds inflicted. The defendant admitted that he had stabbed the victim but denied that he had intended to kill him. The jury found the defendant guilty of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a, as well as burglary in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-101(a)(2) and criminal mischief in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-115(a)(1). On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court (a) inadequately answered the jury's question concerning the element of intent, (b) improperly instructed the jury with respect to intoxication and (c) improperly permitted the state to cross-examine him with regard to his prior convictions and (2) the prosecutor engaged in prosecutorial impropriety. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts on the basis of evidence presented. The defendant and the victim had a sexual relationship. Prior to moving to the first floor apartment at 144 Dwight Street in New Britain, the two men had lived together. The lease for the 144 Dwight Street apartment was in the victim's name. The defendant had a key to the apartment door but not the main entrance to the building, a three-story dwelling. He also received his mail at 144 Dwight Street. Tina Pereira owned the building and lived on the third floor.

According to the defendant, the victim was a bigger man than he was and was controlling and jealous. Although they got along well most of the time, the men engaged in verbal and physical fights during the course of their relationship. Their disputes often occurred because the defendant had looked at a woman or spoken with someone of whom the victim disapproved. Prior to his relationship with the victim, the defendant had been involved romantically with a woman who bore him a child.

The defendant has suffered from psychiatric problems since he was seven years old. Approximately one week before the incident, the defendant had been hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Various medications were prescribed for him, but he took them sporadically. At the time of the incident, the defendant claimed not to have taken his medicine for a number of days because he was trying to wean himself from them. The victim was skeptical of psychiatric medications and did not like the fact that the defendant took so many of them.

On the evening of September 18, 2004, the defendant and victim attended a wedding reception in New Britain and were seated at a table with the victim's cousin, Gwendolyn Robinson, who later recalled that the defendant had been drinking heavily. During the reception, the defendant danced with a woman, an act that caused the victim to become jealous and angry. After the victim threatened him, the defendant went outside, and the victim followed him. Robinson, who had gone outside for a cigarette, saw the victim kick the defendant and heard them arguing about a woman. Later, Robinson drove the victim home.

Although the victim told the defendant not to come home, the defendant walked to 144 Dwight Street. When he arrived, the front door of the building was locked. The defendant went to the bedroom window and asked the victim to unlock the door, but the victim would not let the defendant inside. For more than one hour, the two carried on an angry conversation from either side of the window. The defendant eventually broke the window with a rock. While the defendant was climbing through the window, the victim punched him in the head. The victim got a knife from the kitchen, but the defendant punched the victim, causing him to drop the knife. The victim then ran up the stairs. The defendant grabbed two kitchen knives and followed him. The victim stood outside the empty second floor apartment calling for help. The defendant stabbed him quickly and dropped the knives. The victim ran down the stairs and outside.1 The defendant returned to the first floor apartment.

According to the defendant, he did not know what had come over him, as he had no control of himself. He claimed that he was intoxicated, scared and going crazy. He broke things throughout the apartment. The defendant described himself as having had a psychotic episode during which he could not stop himself from doing things that he knew were wrong.

At approximately 1 a.m., Chiedza Rodriquez, who lived at 138 Dwight Street, heard people arguing loudly. She looked outside and saw a man explaining that the girl he was dancing with was a lesbian. Rodriquez believed that the man was in the midst of a lovers' quarrel. Later, Rodriquez heard breaking glass. From her kitchen window, she saw the defendant climbing through a broken window. She heard screaming and called the police. While she was on the telephone, she saw the victim leave 144 Dwight Street holding his side.

Pereira was in her third floor apartment at approximately 12:10 a.m. when she heard the defendant yelling. As she closed her window, she heard the defendant ask the victim to let him inside. The defendant continued to plead for approximately thirty minutes, becoming progressively more agitated and frustrated. When she heard a crash, she dialed 911. Pereira heard someone run up the stairs and shortly afterward heard the victim call for help. Not long thereafter, Pereira heard the defendant calling from the first floor window that he had a bomb in the microwave and that he was going to blow up the building. She left her apartment and went out to the street. She saw that the victim, whose shirt was covered with blood, was having difficulty breathing. Pereira heard the defendant screaming that he was going to commit suicide.

Kim Black lived at 148 Dwight Street and had worked as a bartender at the previously mentioned wedding reception, where she had served the defendant and the victim alcoholic beverages. When Black arrived home, she heard breaking glass. As she was walking up the steps to her home, Black heard someone call for help. She, too, dialed 911.

Gregory Tartaglia, a New Britain police officer, was dispatched to 144 Dwight Street at approximately 2:34 a.m. pursuant to a report of a disturbance and a stabbing. When Tartaglia arrived at the scene, he saw the heavily bleeding victim in the parking lot across the street from his home. The victim identified the defendant as the person who had stabbed him. When Tartaglia looked at him, the defendant stated: "That's right. I stabbed him. I stabbed him." As the officer approached the defendant, who was standing by the kitchen window, the defendant told Tartaglia not to come any closer, as he, the defendant, had not taken his medication. The defendant also threatened to slit his wrists. Tartaglia continued to approach the defendant who then told the officer that he had a bomb in the microwave and was going to blow up the house. Tartaglia stopped and waited for other officers to arrive.

According to Tartaglia, when Sergeant Allan Raynis arrived, Raynis spoke to the defendant, and Tartaglia was able to go to the back of the house and observe the defendant throwing things about the kitchen.2 When the defendant moved into the bedroom, Officer Marcus Burrus was able to immobilize the defendant with a Taser gun through the broken window. Burrus entered the apartment through the broken window and heard the defendant state: "I got [the victim] first." After the defendant was arrested, he admitted to the officers that after the victim had locked him out, he broke in and stabbed the victim in the back three or four times. The defendant explained to the police that he wanted the victim to remember forever who left the scars on his back. He stated, "that motherfucker felt it real good and I'm proud of it." He also bragged about destroying $20,000 worth of the victim's personal property. The defendant recognized that he would be going to jail or a mental institution for a long time due to his conduct.

At trial, the defendant testified and asserted two theories of defense: when he killed the victim, (1) he had acted under extreme emotional disturbance or (2) he was too intoxicated to form the specific intent needed to be found guilty of murder. The jury found the defendant guilty, and the court imposed an effective sentence of sixty years incarceration. The defendant appealed.


The defendant's first claim is that the court deprived him of his constitutional right to due process and a fair trial by failing to answer adequately a question from the jury or to correct the jury's misunderstanding regarding the element of intent. The state contends that the defendant's claim is not reviewable because defense counsel waived any such claim by agreeing to the instruction the court gave the jury in response to its question. We agree with the state.

The following facts are relevant to the defendant's claim. During its charge, the court instructed the jury on murder and intent, among other things. The court stated in part that "[a] person is guilty of murder when, with intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of another person. For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following two elements: one, that the defendant had the specific intent to cause the death of another person and, two, acting with that intent the defendant caused the death...

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23 cases
  • State Of Conn. v. Kitchens
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 5, 2011
    ...acquiesces to the trial court's order, that party waives any such claim.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Velez, 113 Conn. App. 347, 357-58, 966 A.2d 237 (2009). Accordingly, consistent with our case law, waiver is effectuated by what this court has deemed ''active inducement'......
  • State v. Ebron
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 28, 2009
    ...counsel stating that the charge as read was correct." State v. Akande, supra, at 608-609, 960 A.2d 1045; see also State v. Velez, 113 Conn.App. 347, 357-59, 966 A.2d 743 (2009) (failure to except to trial court's response to jury question about proof of intent constituted waiver under Fabri......
  • State v. Grasso
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • April 9, 2019
    ...acquiesces to the trial court's order, that party waives any such claim." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Velez , 113 Conn. App. 347, 357–58, 966 A.2d 743, cert. denied, 291 Conn. 917, 970 A.2d 729 (2009)."Both our Supreme Court and this court have stated the principle that, wh......
  • State v. Kitchens
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 5, 2011
    ...acquiesces to the trial court's order, that party waives any such claim." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Velez, 113 Conn.App. 347, 357-58, 966 A.2d 743 (2009). Accordingly, consistent with our case law, waiver is effectuated by what this court has deemed "active inducement" of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • 2009 Appellate Review
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 84, 2010
    • Invalid date
    ...115 Conn. App. 680, 974 A.2d 764, cert. denied, 293 Conn. 916, 979 A.2d 488 (2009). 55. 114 Conn. App. 448, 969 A.2d 827 (2009). 56. 113 Conn. App. 347, 966 A.2d 743, cert. denied, 291 Conn. 917, 970 A.2d 729 (2009). 57. Id. at 378; 966 A.2d at 762 (Flynn, C.J., concurring). 58. 112 Conn. A......

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