Lengthy Sentence for Cooperative Defendant Convicted of Felony Murder was Proper

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In a recent criminal law matter, the Sentence Review Division (Division) of a Superior Court of Connecticut affirmed a petitioner’s sentence following her felony murder conviction.

In this case, the petitioner planned with S and V to rob the victim’s apartment, which contained a safe filled with cash. When they arrived, they broke their way in, overpowered the victim, and confiscated his handgun. They located the safe, but could neither open it nor remove it. At this point, an officer arrived on the scene in response to a citizen complaint, but as he approached the apartment, S shot him with the victim’s handgun. All robbery participants fled the scene, and the officer later died as a result of his wound.

The petitioner was arrested and fully cooperated with officers in the investigation. She pled guilty to felony murder, a violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-54c, which is punishable by up to sixty years’ incarceration, twenty-five of which are mandatory. Upon accepting the plea agreement, the court imposed a total effective sentence of forty-two years.

The petitioner sought modification of her sentence, arguing that it was disproportionate. Counsel highlighted that she was a “key cooperator” – in fact, the only cooperative defendant – so a sentence of thirty years was more appropriate. The petitioner apologized for her actions, admitting she would have to live with the officer’s death for the rest of her life. The State, however, countered that the petitioner was an active participant in the robbery, thus the sentence was fair.

The Division is strictly limited to modifying sentences that it determines are “inappropriate or disproportionate.” It will consider explicit statutory factors: “the nature of the offense, the character of the offender, the protection of the public interest, and the deterrent, rehabilitative, isolative and denunciatory purposes for which the sentence was intended.” As applied to this case, the Division noted the petitioner’s active participation in a robbery that resulted in the death of an on-duty police officer. If the petitioner did not cooperate with authorities, her conviction for felony murder could have carried substantially more time. Therefore, the Division affirmed the sentence.

When faced with a charge of robbery or a homicide crime, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.