STATE v. ALAIN LECONTE, SC 19258

Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk

 

†††† †Criminal; Whether Defendant Deprived of Right to Counsel by Admission of Incriminating Statements Made to Cooperating Informant; Whether Right to Confrontation Violated by Restriction of Defendantís Cross-Examination of Informant. The defendant was arrested and charged with murder and robbery in connection with robberies of convenience stores in Norwalk, Greenwich and Stamford. †A store clerk was fatally shot in the Norwalk incident, and a clerk was shot and injured during the Greenwich robbery.† Initially, the defendant was arrested only for the Stamford robbery.† The state placed a cooperating informant in the defendantís jail cell, and the informant recorded statements the defendant made about the Norwalk and Greenwich robberies.† The defendant did not make any statements about the Stamford robbery.† Over the defendant's objection, the three cases were joined for trial.† The defendant sought to suppress the statements he made to the informant, claiming that, because he was represented by counsel with respect to the Stamford charges at the time the statements were solicited, their admission would violate his sixth amendment right to counsel.† The trial court denied the motion and the state introduced the statements at trial.† The state also presented testimony from Teran Nelson, a coconspirator in the Greenwich case.† Nelson was to receive immunity from prosecution on criminal charges in exchange for his testimony, and he testified regarding the defendant's involvement in the Greenwich robbery and his purported confession to the Norwalk robbery and homicide.† The defendant was convicted of the charges in all three cases and he appeals, claiming that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress his statements.† He contends that, because the statements were deliberately elicited by a government agent and incriminated him in the Stamford case, their admission at trial on the charges stemming from the Stamford robbery violated his right to counsel.† The defendant maintains that, even though the statements did not reference the Stamford robbery, they were nonetheless incriminating because the evidence that he committed the other robberies tended to show his involvement in the Stamford robbery.† The defendant also claims that the trial court violated his right to confrontation by precluding him from questioning Nelson about topics that were relevant to his credibility, including whether Nelsonís deal with the state required that he testify to a certain version of the events.† The defendant maintains that the restrictions on his cross-examination prevented the jury from properly assessing the reliability of Nelson's testimony.†