Judicial District of New London


†††† †Criminal; Whether Defendantís Cases were Improperly Joined for Trial; Whether Defendantís Right to Speedy Trial was Violated.† The defendant was charged in separate informations with murder in connection with the strangulation deaths of Renee Pellegrino and Michelle Comeau, whose unclothed bodies were found on roadways in New London County.† The defendant moved for a speedy trial in the Comeau case.† Soon after, the trial court granted the stateís motion to join the cases for trial.† The trial court subsequently denied the defendantís motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial, finding that the joinder of the cases was an exceptional circumstance under Practice Book ß 43-40 (10) constituting good cause for denying the motion.† Thereafter, the defendant moved to sever the cases based on State v. Payne, 303 Conn. 538 (2012), which was released after the trial court's joinder ruling.† In Payne, the Supreme Court rejected the blanket presumption in favor of joinder and held that, when charges are set forth in separate informations, the state bears the burden of proving that the defendant will not be substantially prejudiced by joinder and that the burden can be met by establishing either that the evidence in the cases is cross admissible or that the defendant will not be unfairly prejudiced under the factors articulated in State v. Boscarino, 240 Conn. 714 (1987).†† Payne held that, on appeal, the defendant still bears the burden of proving that joinder was improper.† The trial court denied the motion to sever.† After trial, the jury was unable to reach a verdict regarding the Comeau homicide, but found the defendant guilty of murdering Pellegrino.† On appeal, the defendant contends that the state failed to prove that the evidence was cross admissible.† He argues that many of the similarities that the state listed in support of joinder were duplicative, generic or not supported by any evidence or facts and that the trial court improperly determined that Payne did not require a hearing in which the state would have to meet its burden.† He further asserts that the burden of proof on appeal should rest upon the state because, otherwise, Payne's holding will be eviscerated.† In addition, the defendant contends that severance was required under Boscarino because the cases did not involve easily distinguishable factual scenarios, the crimes were unusually shocking, and the trial was overly long and complex.† Finally, the defendant contends that the court improperly determined that the joinder of the cases constituted good cause to deny his motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial.† He claims that that ruling prejudiced him because it resulted in the state's being able to use the Comeau case to bolster the Pellegrino case.†