PETER LUURTSEMA v. COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTION, SC 18383

Judicial District of Tolland

 

      Habeas; Whether Changes in Law Governing Kidnapping Since Petitioner's Conviction was Upheld on Appeal Apply in Subsequent Habeas Action Challenging Legality of Conviction. The petitioner was convicted of attempted sexual assault, assault and kidnapping in the first degree.  He appealed, claiming, among other things, that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the kidnapping conviction because his movements of the victim were merely "incidental" to the attempted sexual assault.  In State v. Luurtsema, 262 Conn. 179 (2002), the Supreme Court rejected that claim and affirmed the petitioner's kidnapping conviction, holding that the offense of kidnapping does not require proof that the victim was confined for any minimum period of time or moved any minimum distance and that it was of no consequence that the petitioner's restraint of the victim was incidental to the commission of another crime.  Years later, with State v. Salamon, 287 Conn. 509 (2008), the Supreme Court overruled that interpretation of the kidnapping statutes, holding for the first time that kidnapping does not encompass confinement or movement of the victim that is merely incidental to and necessary for the commission of another crime against the victim and that, to be convicted of kidnapping, a defendant must intend to prevent the victim's liberation for a longer period of time or to a greater degree than that which is necessary to commit the other crime.  The petitioner subsequently brought this habeas action, challenging the legality of his sentence for kidnapping in light of Salamon and State v. Sanseverino, 287 Conn. 608 (2008), in which the Supreme Court, applying Salamon, concluded that the defendant was entitled to reversal of his kidnapping conviction.  The habeas court reserved the following questions for the Supreme Court's review: (1) Do State v. Salamon and State v. Sanseverino apply in habeas corpus proceedings? (2) Do State v. Salamon and State v. Sanseverino apply in the petitioner's habeas corpus case?  Since the habeas court's reservation, the Supreme Court has overruled that portion of Sanseverino directing that a judgment of acquittal be rendered on the kidnapping charge, ruling instead that, when a defendant is entitled to reversal of a kidnapping conviction because the jury was not instructed in accordance with Salamon, the appropriate remedy is a remand of the case for a new trial on that charge.  The petitioner nonetheless suggests that he is entitled to an acquittal because, unlike the defendants in Salamon and Sanseverino, he claimed on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of kidnapping, rather than that the jury was improperly instructed as to that offense.