STATE v. TRAVIS HAMPTON, SC 17715
Judicial District of Hartford
Criminal; Miranda Rights; Jury Instructions; Whether Police Detective Violated Miranda by Telling Defendant that it was in his Best Interest to Talk to Police; Whether Trial Court should have Instructed the Jury that to Find Defendant Guilty of Sexual Assault, it was Required to Unanimously Agree on the Manner in which the Assault Occurred. In 2003, the defendant and another individual were arrested in connection with the sexual assault, kidnapping and shooting of a woman in Hartford. The defendant was taken to the Hartford police department where he was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived by signing a rights waiver form. When the defendant became upset during questioning, a police detective stated that "[t]hese are obviously very serious charges. It's in your best interest to talk to us. Give us your side of the story." The defendant subsequently provided a written statement of what occurred during the incident. At trial, the defendant moved to suppress his statement, which the trial court denied. In doing so, the court determined that the defendant was informed of his Miranda rights and that he knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived those rights. The court further concluded that there was no evidence that the police engaged in coercive tactics during questioning, finding that the defendant was provided with a cigarette upon request, was allowed to sleep and was questioned for less than four hours. After the state completed its case-in-chief, the trial court held a charging conference, at which it noted that there was evidence that the complainant was sexually assaulted in different ways and that the jurors could potentially disagree on the manner in which the assault occurred. It subsequently instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of the crimes of attempted murder, kidnapping in the first degree, assault in the first degree, and sexual assault in the first degree based upon a theory of either principal or accessorial liability. It further instructed that in order for the defendant to be found guilty as an accessory, the state must establish, among other things, that he acted with the mental state necessary for the commission of the crime charged. The jury ultimately found the defendant guilty of, among other things, attempted murder, kidnapping in the first degree, assault in the first degree, and sexual assault in the first degree. In this appeal, the defendant argues that his motion to suppress should have been granted because the police detective impermissibly altered the Miranda warnings that had previously been given by stating that it was in the defendant's best interest to talk to the police. He further maintains that because the sexual assault count essentially charged him with assaulting the complainant in several different ways, the trial court should have instructed the jury that to find the defendant guilty of that count, it was required to unanimously agree on the manner in which the assault occurred. His final claim is that the court improperly failed to instruct the jury regarding the specific intent required to find him guilty as an accessory of the crimes of attempted murder, kidnapping in the first degree, assault in the first degree, and sexual assault in the first degree.