STATE v. FRANCISCO PASCUAL, SC 18589

Judicial District of Ansonia/Milford

 

†††† †Criminal; Admissibility of Evidence; Whether the Complainant's Testimony Regarding a Threat to her Safety was Properly Admitted as an Exception to the Hearsay Rule for the Limited Purpose of Determining Whether She Reasonably Feared the Defendant.† The defendant was charged with several crimes, including kidnapping and first degree sexual assault, following an incident that occurred while he was transporting the twelve year old complainant from the Mexican border to Connecticut after she was smuggled into the United States.† The state claimed that the defendant abducted and restrained the complainant by locking her in a minivan while he checked into a hotel and that he then took her into a hotel room, where he locked the door and compelled her to engage in vaginal intercourse.† During the trial, the defendant sought to establish that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of kidnapping because the complainant had ample opportunity to leave and there was no evidence that she was with him involuntarily.† The state, in contrast, sought to establish that the victim feared the defendant and reasonably believed that he would harm her if she tried to escape.† The state therefore sought to admit the complainantís testimony that while she was waiting at a safe house for the defendant to pick her up, she was told by another girl that unspecified individuals had threatened to take the girls into the desert and kill them if their families did not pay the smuggling fees.† The defendant objected to the admission of the evidence, arguing that it was speculative hearsay from an unknown source and was in no way linked to him directly or indirectly.† The trial court overruled the objection, and it instructed the jury that the testimony regarding the threat had been admitted for the limited purpose of demonstrating the complainantís state of mind as it related to the reasonableness of her fear of the defendant.† After being convicted of kidnapping and attempt to commit first degree assault, among other crimes, the defendant filed this appeal in which he claims that the trial court improperly admitted the complainantís testimony regarding the threat.† †††