Judicial District of Waterbury


      Criminal; Insanity; Judicial Misconduct; Whether Jury was Properly Instructed to Decide Whether State Proved Murder Before Considering Defendant's Affirmative Defenses; Whether Admission of Hearsay Statement Violated Defendant's Confrontation Rights under Crawford v. WashingtonThe defendant was convicted of murder in connection with the 2003 strangulation death of his girlfriend.  At trial, the defendant asserted the affirmative defenses of mental disease or defect and extreme emotional disturbance.  The defendant appeals, claiming that the trial court wrongly instructed the jury that, before taking up the questions of whether the defendant had satisfied his burden of proving the affirmative defenses, it must first decide whether the state proved the elements of the crime of murder; that is, whether the defendant, with the intent to cause the victim's death, caused her death.  The defendant argues that, in instructing the jury to first decide whether he acted with criminal intent, the court likely invited juror confusion and precluded the jury from considering evidence of his mental condition in assessing whether he possessed the specific intent to kill.  The defendant also contends that the court erred in admitting into evidence a statement his mother gave to the police in which she stated that the defendant essentially confessed to the crime of murder and expressed his remorse for the killing.  He argues that the admission of the statement violated his rights under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), pursuant to which the hearsay statements of an unavailable declarant that are testimonial in nature are barred under the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment unless the defendant has had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the declarant.  Finally, the defendant argues that the trial judge deprived him of a fair trial by persistently belittling and berating his attorney.