STATE v. TERRELL W. POND, SC 19074

Judicial District of New Haven

 

      Criminal; Whether, in Order to Prove Conspiracy to Commit Robbery in Second Degree, State Must Prove Specific Intent to Display or Threaten Use of What is Represented to be Deadly Weapon, Even if That Specific Intent is not Required for Proof of Underlying Crime. The defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 2007) § 53a-135 (a) (2), which provides that a person is guilty of that crime when, in the course of committing robbery, “he or another participant in the crime displays or threatens the use of what he represents by his words or conduct to be a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”  The conspiracy statute, General Statutes § 53a- 48 (a), provides in part 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. . . .”  During the defendant’s trial, evidence was presented that, during the robbery, his companion displayed what was represented to be a gun.  On being convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court (138 Conn. App. 228), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict because the state was required to prove—and failed to prove—that he specifically intended that what was represented to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument would be displayed.  He also claimed that the trial court improperly failed to instruct the jury regarding that specific intent requirement.  While observing that, by its terms, the language of § 53a-48 (a) does not establish whether specific intent to perform all the elements of a crime conspired is required, the Appellate Court found that the Supreme Court had addressed that issue in State v. Padua, 273 Conn. 138 (2005).  The court determined that it was bound by the holding in Padua to conclude that the state needed to prove that the defendant and his coconspirator had an agreement to display the weapon and that the defendant had the specific intent that the weapon would be displayed.  While finding that there was sufficient evidence presented here to prove that the defendant had the requisite intent, the Appellate Court reversed his conviction and remanded for a new trial on finding that the trial court’s instruction on the specific intent required for the charge of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree was constitutionally defective and likely to have misled the jury.  The Supreme Court will now review the Appellate Court’s determination regarding the specific intent necessary to convict a defendant of conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree.