Posts tagged with "stabbed"

Left-Handed Defendant Presented No Scientific Evidence of Inability to Use Right Hand to Stab a Victim

In a criminal law matter, the Appellate Court of Connecticut declined to overturn a defendant’s convictions for assault and carrying a dangerous weapon, rejecting his appellate claim of physically impossible conclusions.

Case Background

This case arose from an incident that occurred on July 9, 2006. An ongoing feud existed between the defendant and the victim, which came to a head at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Bridgeport. The two first engaged in a verbal argument, then physical blows. When the defendant was on his knees, he reached for his back right pocket and stabbed the victim in the stomach before running off. At the hospital, the victim recovered and told police that the defendant was his attacker.

The defendant was charged with assault in the first degree and carrying a dangerous weapon, among other counts. At trial, a witness verified that they saw the defendant pull a butterfly knife from his right rear pocket, and a medical expert testified that the injuries sustained were consistent with those made by someone holding a knife with his right hand.

Defendant Claims “Physically Impossible Conclusions”

However, the defendant testified that he was left-handed and thus could not have inflicted the injuries. He contended that one of the State witnesses, who received a plea bargain for his testimony, had a knife as well and could have caused the injury. This individual conceded that he had an eight-inch hunting knife that he unsheathed and waved around in an attempt to break up the fight. However, the blade was at the minimum 2.25 inches wide, while the victim’s injuries were only 1.75 inches in width.

At the close of evidence, the defendant moved for a new trial, which was denied. He was then convicted by a jury and appealed, arguing once again that the conviction was improper “because it was based on physically impossible conclusions.” The defendant claimed that as a left-handed person he could not have inflicted injuries on the victim’s right side, and it was impossible for him to reach a knife from his right-rear pocket using his left hand. In addition, he stated that a butterfly knife could not have caused the injuries.

A verdict rendered by a jury is typically given great deference, for it is their province to serve as the ultimate arbiter of credibility in a criminal case. However, there are a few situations where overturning the verdict is proper because it is based on conclusions that simply are not possible:

[A] verdict should be set aside [w]here testimony is thus in conflict with indisputable physical facts, the facts demonstrate that the testimony is either intentionally or unintentionally untrue, and leave no real question of conflict of evidence for the jury concerning which reasonable minds could reasonably differ.

Court’s Ruling

In this case, the Appellate Court found that, even assuming the jury took the defendant at his word that he was left-handed, “this does not lead to the logical conclusion that he could not have used his right hand to stab the victim.” Having predominant use of one hand does not instantly render the other one unusable, and the Court pointed out that the defendant presented no scientific evidence that he was unable to use his right hand.

In addition, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument regarding the possibility that the State witness inflicted the injury. It noted that the blade was too wide, whereas the defendant’s knife was “long enough” to cause the victim’s injuries. Because the defendant failed to provide any evidence that the jury made unreasonable findings and conclusions, this aspect of his appeal was unsuccessful. After dispensing with other matters brought forth on appeal, the defendant’s conviction was sustained.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of assault or carrying a deadly weapon, 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

Despite Inconsistent Witness Statements, Other Evidence Established That Defendant Committed Assault

In an opinion issued earlier last year, the Appellate Court of Connecticut upheld a defendant’s conviction for first-degree assault, citing sufficient evidence identifying him as the perpetrator.

Case Background

The case arose from an incident that occurred on February 7, 2008. The victim was employed at a market in the neighborhood in which the defendant, a frequent customer known as Espana, lived. The defendant entered the store and asked the victim for money, which was promptly given away to other customers. When asked for more the victim refused, and the defendant stated “you’re going to see what’s going to happen” before leaving the store. That night, as the victim and a coworker, W, were emptying garbage outside the store, the defendant stabbed the victim twice and ran off. Despite profuse bleeding, the victim went inside and told another employee, F, that Espana stabbed him.

Police responded, but the victim told them that two black men assaulted him. W initially conveyed he saw nothing because “he was nervous and so did not tell the police everything he had witnessed that night.” In addition, F had problems conveying to officers what the victim stated, since none of the officers were fluent in Spanish. The victim underwent emergency surgery and survived his injuries, though he was hospitalized for five weeks. Eight days later, the defendant returned to the store while intoxicated, threatened W, and told both F and W that he stabbed the victim. Police were called to the scene, where they arrested the defendant and charged him with several crimes, including assault in the first degree.

The Trial

On March 19, 2008, the victim was released from the hospital and went to the police station to give a statement. He identified the defendant as his attacker, and selected the defendant’s photograph from an array of eight photographs. The victim explained that he was not initially forthcoming because he was not a U.S. citizen and used a false identity, but he became concerned when “[the defendant] went back looking for me saying that he was going to finish what he started.” At trial, the victim, F, and W all made in-court identifications of the defendant as the perpetrator, as well as testified to that fact.

The defendant was convicted and received a lengthy sentence but appealed, arguing that the State presented insufficient evidence that he was the person who assaulted the victim. He pointed to the series of inconsistent statements: “[I]n speaking to police on the night of the attack, [the victim] did not identify the defendant as the attacker, [W] denied witnessing the attack and [F] denied knowing who had stabbed [the victim].”

The Court’s Decision

Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-59(a)(1), an individual commits first-degree assault “when… [w]ith the intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.” In this case, the Appellate Court determined that the jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was the perpetrator, despite the apparent inconsistent statements. This went to witness credibility rather than sufficiency of the evidence, and “[i]t is the [jury’s] exclusive province to weigh the conflicting evidence and to determine the credibility of witnesses.”

In addition, the Court pointed to other evidence on the record that, taken together, met the State’s burden: the in-court identifications, the victim’s written statement to police, the victim’s identification of the defendant as the perpetrator, the selection of the defendant’s picture in the photographic array, and the defendant’s oral confession a week after the incident. Thus, the Court held that it was reasonable for the jury to conclude that “the cumulative force of this evidence established the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” After addressing an additional matter on appeal, the judgment was affirmed.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

When faced with a charge of assault or battery, 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