Judicial District of Danbury


      Criminal; Sufficiency of the Evidence; Whether the Defendant was Aided in an Assault by Two or More Other Persons; Whether a Statement to the Police Should have been Suppressed as the Product of the Defendant's Intoxication.  In August 2004, victims Kyle Coney and Timothy LaPak were driving in downtown Danbury when they became involved in an altercation with the occupants of another vehicle.  The driver of the second vehicle was Amy Altberg; the passengers were the defendant and two other men.  Altberg chased the victims' car into a blind alley and pulled to a stop behind it.  The defendant and the two other men then exited the vehicle, pulled Coney and LaPak from their car and beat them severely.  The defendant was convicted of assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-59 (a) (4) in connection with the attacks.  Section 53a-59 (a) (4) provides that a person is guilty of assault in the first degree when "with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person and while aided by two or more other persons actually present, he causes such injury to such person. . . ." (Emphasis added.)  The defendant appeals, claiming that his conviction of assault in the first degree should be set aside because there was insufficient evidence presented that he was aided in the assault of Timothy LaPak by two or more other persons.  He claims that a person aids another when he or she gives substantial assistance or encouragement and that, under this standard, Altberg cannot be deemed to have aided in the attacks.  The defendant claims that, while he and another man beat LaPak and while the third man confined his attack to Coney, Altberg stood passively by her vehicle and in no way participated in or encouraged the beatings.  The state counters that there was ample evidence supporting the jury's conclusion that Altberg "aided" the defendant in assaulting LaPak, noting that, among other things, she chased down the victims' vehicle and acted as a lookout during the attacks.  The defendant also claims that the trial court did not properly instruct the jury regarding the "aiding" element of § 53a-59 (a) (4) and did nothing to alleviate the jury's apparent confusion concerning that element of the crime.  Finally, the defendant contends that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress a statement he gave the police.  He claims his statement was not voluntary because he had been drinking heavily some twenty hours before and was still intoxicated at the time he gave it. 


Connecticut Appellate Court to Hear Cases at University of New Haven 9/24/08 Press Release