STATE v. REYNALDO ARROYO, SC 18031
Judicial District of Middlesex
Criminal; Whether a Special Credibility Instruction is Required Where a Jailhouse Informant Hopes or Anticipates that he will Receive some Benefit from the State; Whether the Jury's Verdict of Guilty on the Felony Murder Charge was Legally Inconsistent with its Verdict of Not Guilty on the First Degree Robbery Charge. On March 28, 2001, the defendant shot and killed Edmund Caruso, an owner of a package store, after an argument over the amount of change the defendant was due after his purchase. Following the shooting, the defendant and another man, Richmond Perry, fled the scene with the cash register. In connection with the incident, the defendant was charged with, inter alia, felony murder and first degree robbery. At trial, two jailhouse informants testified that the defendant had confessed that he and Perry had robbed the package store and had shot Caruso. At the end of the trial, the defendant requested that the trial court give a special credibility instruction concerning the testimony of the two jailhouse informants. The court denied the defendant's request. Ultimately, the jury acquitted the defendant of first degree robbery, but found him guilty of felony murder. On appeal, the defendant first claimed that, in light of evidence that the two jailhouse informants had hoped for and anticipated some benefit from the state in return for their testimony, the trial court improperly refused to give a special credibility instruction regarding their testimony. In support of his claim, the defendant cited State v. Patterson, 276 Conn. 452 (2005), in which the Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to a special credibility instruction regarding the testimony of a jailhouse informant, reasoning that such testimony is "inevitably suspect" because an informant has been promised a benefit by the state in return for his testimony and, therefore, has a powerful incentive, fueled by self-interest, to implicate falsely the accused. The Appellate Court (104 Conn. App. 67), however, ruled that a special instruction regarding jailhouse informant testimony was not required in the present case. In so ruling, the court concluded that Patterson was not applicable because neither informant received or had been promised any benefit or consideration in return for his testimony. The mere hope on the part of a jailhouse informant that he will receive some benefit for his testimony, the court opined, was not sufficient to bring an informant's testimony within the purview of Patterson. The defendant next claimed that the jury's guilty verdict on the felony murder charge was legally inconsistent with its acquittal on the first degree robbery charge, which the defendant maintained was the predicate felony for the felony murder charge. The court determined that, as charged in the information, third degree robbery, and not first degree robbery, was the predicate felony. Thereafter, the court rejected the defendant's claim, ruling that the jury's verdict was not inconsistent because, as charged in the information, the crimes of felony murder and first degree robbery each contained an element that the other did not - felony murder requiring a death and first degree robbery requiring the use of a deadly weapon. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will review the Appellate Court's decision.