STATE v. KENNETH WELLS, AC 26671
Judicial District of Waterbury
Criminal; Attempt to Commit Assault in the First Degree; Conspiracy; Whether the State Produced Sufficient Evidence of the Defendant's Intent to Cause Serious Physical Injury. The victim, Jeffrey Wilde, was awakened by a knock on his apartment door at 2 a.m. on February 11, 2003. Although he could not see who was outside the door, he heard voices and saw shadows of two people. When he stepped away from the door to get dressed, two shotgun blasts ripped through the door. After the police were called, an officer who was already in the vicinity stopped a vehicle with two occupants leaving the victim's street with its lights off. The officer recognized the driver as the defendant's girlfriend and saw a shotgun case in the back seat. Shortly thereafter, the police found a shotgun about 100 yards from the apartment, and a police dog tracked directly to the defendant. The defendant was brought to the police station, where he gave a statement in which he admitted shooting at the victim's door. In his statement, the defendant said that in December, 2002, the victim had been arrested for a confrontation he had with the defendant's girlfriend. The defendant believed that the victim thereafter left a threatening telephone message for him and later slashed his tires. The defendant also stated that he and his girlfriend were not satisfied with the disposition of the charges against the victim. He stated that on February 10, 2003, he began drinking alcohol early in the evening, became enraged because the victim was on probation, loaded his twelve-gauge shotgun and went to the victim's home and shot at the door when the victim did not answer. The defendant was thereafter charged with attempt to commit assault in the first degree and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree. At trial, the defendant's statement was placed into evidence, but he did not testify or put on any evidence of his own. The defendant unsuccessfully moved for a judgment of acquittal based on his claim that he lacked intent to cause serious physical injury, which is an element of first degree assault. The trial court rejected this claim because it found that the jury could reasonably infer that the defendant intended to bring the victim to the door so that he would be in a position to be harmed by the discharge of the firearm. After the defendant was convicted as charged, he filed this appeal. He claims that there was insufficient evidence that he intended to cause serious physical injury to the victim or that he had entered into a conspiracy. The defendant claims that the evidence was sufficient to establish only reckless endangerment in the first degree and that if the jury had been instructed on this alternative, it would have convicted him of that charge. He further argues that the mere fact that his girlfriend drove him to the victim's residence does not establish the common intent required to sustain a conviction of conspiracy.