When a criminal appeal challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the appellate court has a twofold task. The court first reviews the evidence presented, construing it in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict. The appellate court then determines whether the jury could have reasonably concluded, on those facts and any reasonable inferences, that the cumulative effect of the evidence established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defendants were involved in an attempted escape from a jail. A corrections officer was assaulted as part of the escape plan. The Superior Court in the Judicial District of Fairfield (Connecticut) convicted them of assault in the first degree, assault of an employee of the Department of Corrections, attempted escape in the first degree, rioting at a correctional institution. Defendants were both charged with conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, however, only one of them was convicted of that charge. On appeal, the court affirmed defendants' convictions.
Was evidence sufficient to sustain conviction?
The court held that (1) the evidence at trial was sufficient to show that defendants were active participants in the assault on the corrections officer, not innocent bystanders as they contended; (2) the evidence was also sufficient for the jury to find that defendants were involved in the attempt to escape from the jail because their actions went beyond mere preparation and were done with the intent to commit the crime; (3) the remarks by the prosecutor during closing argument represented an isolated instance of alleged misconduct and thus, defendants did not establish the clear existence of a violation of their constitutional rights; and (4) in reviewing the charge to jurors as a whole, it was not unfair or misleading to jurors in anyway.