STATE v. KEVIN NASH, SC 19265
Judicial District of Hartford at G.A. 12
Criminal; Inconsistent Verdicts; Whether the Evidence was Sufficient to Support Conviction of Intentional Assault in the First Degree; Whether Convictions of Intentional Assault in the First Degree and Reckless Assault in the First Degree were Inconsistent. The defendant was charged with one count of intentional assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (1) and one count of reckless assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (3). Section 53a-59 provides in relevant part: “(a) A person is guilty of assault in the first degree when: (1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument . . . or (3) under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person . . . .” At trial, the state presented evidence that the defendant fired at least four gunshots at the back of Tyrell Knott’s house and that one of the bullets struck and injured Knott’s sister. The state’s theory was that the defendant fired the gunshots at Knott’s house because he believed that Knott had been spreading false rumors about him. At the close of the state’s case, the defendant sought a judgment of acquittal, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to permit the jury to find him guilty of intentional assault in the first degree. He maintained that the state had failed to prove that he intended to assault Knott, Knott’s sister, or anyone else. He contended that the evidence merely showed that he wanted to “shoot up” Knott’s home in order to “give him a warning.” In response, the state pointed out that the evidence indicated that the defendant had fired a shot at the window of a bedroom because the light was on and he saw a curtain move. The state maintained that when somebody fires a shot at a window of a room that the shooter believes is occupied, it can be inferred that the shooter intended to cause serious physical injury to another person. The trial court agreed with the state and rejected the defendant’s claim. The jury ultimately found the defendant guilty of intentional assault in the first degree and reckless assault in the first degree. In this appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of intentional assault in the first degree because the state failed to prove that he intended to injure anyone. He also claims that he was improperly convicted of both intentional assault in the first degree and reckless assault in the first degree in connection with the same incident because the convictions required inconsistent findings regarding his mental state. He explains that reckless conduct is not intentional conduct because one who acts recklessly does not intend to cause a particular result. He therefore argues that his conduct could not have been intentional and reckless at the same time.