STATE v. ROBERT KING, SC 19339
Judicial District of Waterbury
Criminal; Whether Appellate Court Properly held that Jury Verdicts Finding Defendant Guilty of both Intentional and Reckless Assault were Legally Inconsistent. The defendant was charged with one count of intentional assault in the first degree and one count of reckless assault in the first degree in connection with an incident in which the victim was stabbed four times in quick succession. After a jury trial, the defendant was convicted as charged. He appealed, claiming that his due process rights were violated because the jury's verdicts were legally inconsistent based on the manner in which the state prosecuted him. In particular, he argued that the state did not claim, through its presentation of evidence and argument at trial, that he had both intentionally and recklessly assaulted the victim. The state, in turn, claimed that the jury reasonably could have concluded from the evidence that the defendant first injured the victim recklessly as he swung his knife at another individual and then injured the victim intentionally after she retaliated. The Appellate Court (149 Conn. App. 361) reversed and remanded for a new trial, finding that the defendant had been deprived of due process. It found that although the charging document did not specify that the two counts of assault were made in the disjunctive, its review of the record and transcripts confirmed that the state presented the case in that manner. It indicated that the state did not present the evidence at trial in a manner that suggested more than one assault and that all of the witnesses testified that the assault occurred quickly and, essentially, as one continuous act unbroken in time and character. The Appellate Court further indicated that it could not affirm the convictions based on the state's appellate argument that the defendant's mental state had changed during the attack, because our rules of practice prohibit a party from pursuing one course of action at trial and arguing a different path on appeal. The court concluded that the judgment could not stand in that the convictions violated the defendant’s due process rights to fair notice of the charges against him and represented convictions of two offenses when the state presented the case as a single offense committed either recklessly or intentionally. The Supreme Court granted the state certification to appeal and will decide whether the Appellate Court properly held that the jury verdicts finding the defendant guilty of both intentional and reckless assault were legally inconsistent and had to be reversed.