STATE v. KELLY ANN DANFORTH, SC 19243

Judicial District of Tolland

 

      Criminal; Accessorial Liability; Whether Sentence of Unarmed Accessory Properly Enhanced Under General Statutes § 53-202k; Whether, in Order to Prove Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, State Must Prove Specific Intent to Display or Threaten Use of What is Represented to be a Firearm. The defendant was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree by displaying or threatening the use of a firearm and robbery in the first degree as an accessory.  The state claimed that the defendant and Anthony Flemke conspired with Chadwick Matzdorff to rob prescription drugs from a woman.  Neither the defendant nor Flemke were present during the robbery; Matzdorff was armed during the robbery with a pellet gun.  The defendant was convicted as charged, and her sentence on the first degree robbery charge was enhanced pursuant to General Statutes § 53-202k, which mandates an additional five year prison term for “[a]ny person who commits any class A, B or C felony and in the commission of such felony uses, or is armed with and threatens the use of, or displays, or represents by his words or conduct that he possesses any firearm. . . .”  On appeal, the defendant argues that her sentence was improperly enhanced under § 53-202k and she urges the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in State v. Davis, 255 Conn. 782 (2001).  In Davis, the court held that an unarmed accessory’s sentence was properly enhanced under § 53-202k where the principal used a firearm because it is clearly established that, for purposes of criminal liability, there is no distinction between a conviction as a principal and a conviction as an accessory.  The defendant submits that, applying the plain meaning rule of General Statutes § 1-2z, it is clear that the legislature intended that enhanced punishments be given only to armed participants.  The defendant also argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conspiracy conviction because the state failed to prove that she had the specific intent, as a conspirator, that there would be a display or threatened use of what was represented to be a firearm.  She also claims that the evidence did not show that she knowingly assisted Matzdorff and Flemke in the planning and commission of the robbery.  Finally, the defendant contends that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.