STATE v. RANDALL BROWN, SC 17891
Judicial District of Hartford
Criminal; Jury Instructions; Whether the Trial Court Correctly Instructed the Jury on Intent and Conspiratorial Liability. The defendant was charged with, inter alia, felony murder, murder, first degree robbery, attempt to commit first degree robbery, and conspiracy to commit first degree robbery in connection with the shooting death of an alleged drug dealer. At trial, the trial court instructed the jury that the defendant could be found guilty of murder either as a principal or as a coconspirator under Pinkerton v. United States, 328 U.S. 640 (1946). Under the Pinkerton doctrine, a conspirator may be held liable for criminal offenses committed by a coconspirator that are within the scope of the conspiracy, are in furtherance of it, and are reasonably foreseeable as a necessary or natural consequence of the conspiracy. The jury thereafter found the defendant guilty of the charged offenses. On appeal, the defendant challenges, inter alia, the trial court's Pinkerton instruction given in connection with the murder charge. Specifically, the defendant claims that the court improperly failed to charge the jury that, in order to find the defendant guilty of murder under the vicarious coconspirator liability theory of Pinkerton, it had to find that the murder was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant as a necessary or natural consequence of the conspiracy to commit first degree robbery. The defendant also claims that the trial court erred in reading to the jury the entire statutory definition of intent as contained in General Statutes § 53a-3 (11). That definition embraces both the specific intent to cause a result and the general intent to engage in proscribed conduct. The defendant asserts that the court's charge allowed the jury to find him guilty of the specific intent crimes of murder, first degree robbery, attempt to commit first degree robbery, and conspiracy to commit first degree robbery on the basis of an intent to engage in conduct rather than an intent to cause the required specific result.