State v. Horne

In State v. Horne, 215 Conn. 538, 577 A.2d 694 (1990), the defendant was charged in four separate informations involving incidents in four retail stores. In three of them he was charged with robbery in the first degree in violation of 53a-134 (a) (4). Id., 542. With reference to the fourth information, he was charged with robbery in the first degree in violation of 53a-134 (a) (4), sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes 53a-70 and sexual assault in the first degree with a deadly weapon in violation of General Statutes 53a-70a. Id. In the first three incidents, the defendant threatened each victim with a gun and robbed each victim. Id., 540-41. As to the fourth incident, after robbing that victim, the defendant also forced her to lie face down on the floor, pulled her slacks and underpants off and sexually assaulted her while holding her by the neck. Id., 542. The court denied the defendant's pretrial motion to sever the fourth information from the other three cases and also denied the defendant's motion to that effect made later in the trial. Id., 543. In addition, although the defendant asked the court to give a preliminary instruction because of the risk of confusion between the cases, it ultimately failed to do so. The court, over the defendant's objection, ordered all four cases joined for trial. After a consolidated trial, the jury found the defendant guilty on all counts. Id. In Horne, after the verdict, the trial court dismissed the count alleging sexual assault in the first degree in violation of 53a-70. State v. Horne, supra, 215 Conn. 543. On appeal to our Supreme Court, the defendant argued that "he was prejudiced because the jury, faced with the evidence of factually similar but legally unrelated cases, probably commingled the evidence in one case with another and was probably inflamed by the brutal and shocking sexual assault of one of the victims." Id., 544. He also argued that the court's one time jury instruction, during its final instructions, did not mitigate the prejudice claimed. Our Supreme Court agreed and reversed all the convictions. Id., 545-46. The Court indicated that on the retrial, the court, in the careful exercise of its discretion might consolidate the three robberies that did not involve the sexual assault if it issued "adequate instructions to the jury, at the beginning and during the course of the proceedings . . . to keep the facts of each robbery separate, thereby minimizing the risk that the jury would commingle the facts." Id., 553.