STATE v. NUNO MIRANDA, SC 19194

Judicial District of Ansonia-Milford

 

      Criminal; Illegal Sentence; Whether Appellate Court Properly Determined that Defendant's Separate Sentences for Strangulation and Unlawful Restraint were not Illegal under General Statutes § 53a-64bb.  The defendant pleaded guilty to strangulation in the second degree and unlawful restraint in the first degree in connection with conduct he engaged in while in the apartment of the victim, his former girlfriend.  Specifically, the defendant forced the victim to remain in the bathroom against her will, and, while she was confined there, he sprayed the contents of an aerosol can toward her while igniting its fumes.  After a period of time elapsed, the victim was able to leave the bathroom.  She went into the kitchen, where she was choked by the defendant.  The trial court imposed separate sentences for each crime.  The defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, claiming that his separate convictions and sentences for strangulation and unlawful restraint violated the express terms of General Statutes § 53a-64bb (b), which provides in relevant part: "No person shall be found guilty of strangulation in the second degree and unlawful restraint or assault upon the same incident, but such person may be charged and prosecuted for all three offenses upon the same information. . . ."  The trial court denied the motion to correct.  The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court (142 Conn. App. 657), which upheld the trial court's judgment.  The court determined that "the same incident" to which the statute refers means an incident of strangulation, necessarily involving the restraint of another person by the neck or throat, and not an event or course of conduct in which an act of strangulation occurs.  The court determined that, here, the conduct of the defendant toward the victim in the bathroom before he strangled her in the kitchen demonstrated his guilt of unlawful restraint in the first degree on a factual basis wholly separate from his later act of strangulation.  It therefore concluded that the convictions did not arise from the same incident as contemplated by § 53a-64bb (b).  Finally, the Appellate Court found that the defendant’s claim that the multiple convictions and sentences here violated his right not to be placed twice in jeopardy for the same offense necessarily failed in light of its finding that the two charges did not arise out of the same incident. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the sentence imposed by the trial court was not illegal pursuant to § 53a-64bb.