STATE v. ROGER B., SC 18367

Judicial District of Litchfield


      Criminal; Due Process; Delay in Prosecution; Jury Instructions; Whether Delay Between Completion of Investigation and Application for Arrest Warrant Violated Defendant's Due Process Rights; Whether Trial Court Properly Instructed Jury not to Base its Findings as to Whether a Particular Fact has been Proven on the Number of Witnesses Testifying in Support of, or Against, the Particular Fact.  From 1995 through 2000, the defendant resided with his girlfriend and her minor children.  After the children were placed with a foster family in 2000, they told their foster mother that the defendant had sexually molested them on various occasions during the period of time that they had lived with him.  Shortly thereafter, the children filed a complaint against the defendant with the police and an investigation was initiated.  In July of 2005, the police applied for an arrest warrant for the defendant.  The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with first degree sexual assault, fourth degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.  Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of all charges.  The defendant appeals from his convictions, claiming that the nearly five year delay between the time that the police completed their investigation of the molestation allegations and the time that the police applied for the arrest warrant violated the defendant's constitutional right to due process.  The defendant argues that he was substantially prejudiced by the delay in that it caused him a loss of opportunity to investigate in preparation for his defense.  He also claims that there was no valid reason for the delay.  The defendant additionally challenges the trial court's instruction to the jury that it must not base its findings as to whether a particular fact has been proven on the number of witnesses who testified in support of, or against, the particular fact.  The defendant claims that the instruction violated his constitutional right to a fair trial because the number of witnesses testifying in favor of, or against, a material fact is a relevant factor for jury consideration, and the jury should have been allowed to consider that factor in assessing the credibility of the children, which was a key disputed issue at trial.