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State Senator

James Maroney

Representing Milford, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge

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Sen. Maroney Sends Letter to the State’s Attorney Regarding Controversial Plea Agreement in Violent Assault

HARTFORD, CT – Today, state Senator James Maroney (D-Milford) and state Representatives Kim Rose (D-Milford), Kathy Kennedy (R-Milford) and Charles Ferraro (R-Milford) sent a letter to the office of the Milford State’s Attorney in regards to a controversial plea deal in the case of a violent assault of a Milford woman. In the letter, the legislators lay out several severe concerns with the court’s handling of this case, specifically the capped sentence for the crime committed.

On March 9, 2019, a Milford woman was violently attacked. Her attacker was originally charged with assault in the first degree, disorderly conduct, tampering with evidence and strangulation.

In the letter, the legislators express their concerns about, and opposition to, the plea deal, “the judge states that the offer that he has made, ‘… is eight years, suspended after two years to serve, three years probation as a cap, with a floor, which could be a fully suspended sentence.’ Transcript, 10/30/19 p.7 (emphasis provided). The lawmakers go on to explain in the letter that, “this capped sentence, with the possibility of the assailant walking free on the very day of the sentencing hearing, does not reflect the values of this community. Moreover, it may serve to further victimize the innocent victim of a horrific crime.”

Lawmakers point out that, “the plea agreement seems to have been proposed by the judge, at a judicial pre-trial. The plea offer seems to have occurred on the same day it was entered on the record, October, 30. The judicial website indicates this was the 10th time the case appeared on the court’s docket. According to the letter, the legislators express concern over “why the plea had to be accepted with such urgency, without affording the victim the opportunity to speak on the record – and personally express what were apparently going to be her strong objections – before the plea was offered and accepted.”

They also point out in the letter that, due to the capped sentence, “It appears likely that the victim is actually being given no meaningful opportunity to affect the sentence at the January 8th hearing. Because your office agreed to a capped plea agreement, it appears the sentence can only go down, to being fully suspended as of January 8 with the attacker possibly going free that very day.” In the letter, they say they “fail to understand why the plea went forward on October 30 without giving the victim her right to appear at a later date, ­on the record, before the plea was formally offered, accepted and entered.”

According to the letter, at the plea hearing the judge stated to the defendant in open court, “I will review the Pre-Sentence Investigative Report, hear from the complainant victim on this matter, hear from the State, your attorney, and obviously, hear from you, before I determine ultimately what the appropriate sentence will be. But the cap is eight years, suspended after two years to serve, three years’ probation...” Transcript, p.7 (emphasis added.)

The legislators state in the letter, “Unacceptably, the judge’s claim to ‘hear from the complainant victim’ would seem ultimately to ring hollow if there exists no way the victim’s narration of her feelings and fear and suffering, no matter how eloquent, poignant, sad, angry or forgiving, can have the effect of eliminating the cap on the agreed sentence.”

They close the letter by urging the Milford’s State’s Attorney to, “take whatever actions are necessary and possible to prevent this unjust outcome to a horrifically violent, and confessed to, assault that has been perpetrated on a vulnerable member of our community.” See the full letter below and attached.

Text of Letter:

Margaret E. Kelley, State’s Attorney
December 13, 2019
Ansonia-Milford J.D.
14 West River St.
P.O. Box 210
Milford, CT 06460

State v. Molleur, A22M-CR18-0097422-S, and AAN-CR19-0115131-T

Dear Attorney Kelley,

These two pending matters have been brought to our attention by a constituent, who is the brother of the victim of horrendously violent crimes in the second case referenced above, wherein the defendant was found guilty of two felonies. The Court accepted his guilty pleas on October 30, 2019 to a substitute information in which the charges were assault in the second degree and unlawful restraint, first degree. Reportedly the original charge of assault in the first degree was reduced to the lesser charge of assault in the second degree, and the charges of disorderly conduct, tampering with evidence and strangulation or suffocation in the first degree were dropped.

With regard to the penalty provisions of the plea deal, they are to us, frankly, too lenient given the depravity of the assault to which the defendant admitted. We have reviewed the transcript of the defendant’s guilty pleas, wherein the judge states that the offer that he has made, “… is eight years, suspended after two years to serve, three years probation as a cap, with a floor, which could be a fully suspended sentence.” Transcript, 10/30/19 p.7 (emphasis provided). This capped sentence, with the possibility of the assailant walking free on the very day of the sentencing hearing, in our opinion, does not reflect the values of this community. Moreover, in our opinion, it may serve to further victimize the innocent victim of a horrific crime.

We also feel that the circumstances surrounding the guilty plea have also served to contribute to this further victimization. Our review of the October 30, 2019 transcript raises many concerns.

First, the plea agreement seems to have been proposed by the judge, at what we believe might be called a judicial pre-trial. The plea offer seems to have occurred on the same day it was entered on the record, October, 30th. The judicial website indicates this was the 10th time the case appeared on the court’s docket. We don’t understand why the plea had to be accepted with such urgency, without affording the victim the opportunity to speak on the record – and personally express what were apparently going to be her strong objections -- before the plea was offered and accepted.

Second, in that regard, it is deeply troubling to us that the victim was only informed of the proposed plea on the very morning of the already scheduled court hearing where it was going to be accepted. The assistant state’s attorney advised the court he had spoken to the victim that morning and “As predicted, she’s unhappy with the disposition. She feels it’s lenient. She—there was some sobbing on the phone…” Transcript, 10/30/19 p.5. The Connecticut Constitution, let alone our statutes, appears to afford victims “…the right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused…” Connecticut Constitution, Art. XIX (emphasis added.)

Third, we are concerned that your office agreed to a plea with a capped sentence being accepted in court immediately after relating the proposal to the unhappy victim. By the assistant state’s attorney’s words quoted above, the victim’s anticipated objection apparently had already been discussed among him, the defendant’s attorney and the judge and all “predicted” her disapproval. We fail to understand why the plea went forward on October 30 without giving the victim her right to appear at a later date, ­on the record, before the plea was formally offered, accepted and entered.

Fourth, it appears likely to us that the victim is actually being given no meaningful opportunity to affect the sentence at the January 8th hearing. Because your office agreed to a capped plea agreement, it appears the sentence can only go down, to being fully suspended as of January 8th with the attacker possibly going free that very day.

In this regard, at the plea hearing, the judge stated to the defendant in open court, “I will review the Pre-Sentence Investigative Report, hear from the complainant victim on this matter, hear from the State, your attorney, and obviously, hear from you, before I determine ultimately what the appropriate sentence will be. But the cap is eight years, suspended after two years to serve, three years’ probation...” Transcript, p.7 (emphasis added.) Unacceptably, the judge’s claim to “hear from the complainant victim” would seem ultimately to ring hollow if there exists no way the victim’s narration of her feelings and fear and suffering, no matter how eloquent, poignant, sad, angry or forgiving, can have the effect of eliminating the cap on the agreed sentence.

Fifth, we are concerned that by report, the judge and state’s attorney at the arraignment (there was a different judge at the arraignment than the plea hearing, and there also apparently was a different prosecutor) seemed to express much greater outrage to the defendant and confidence in the strength of the state’s case, resulting in a very substantial bond. That judge was quoted as saying to the attacker “I just want to say, Mr. Molleur, the allegations are sickening. Right now I’m having a hard time breathing based on what I’ve read”. She then reportedly upped the bond to $350,000. Also, during the arraignment, it was reported that the prosecutor called it a “brutal assault”, and said “the state has a very strong case.” Indeed, horrifying pictures of the injuries that had been inflicted on the victim were in the file; also, the defendant had apparently confessed.

Sixth, we are concerned that your office appears to have chosen not to substitute a charge of assault of a disabled person pursuant to section 53a-59a of the general statutes, especially given the reported circumstances of this case. We understand that the police did not charge that crime at the outset, but believe your office had the ability to add that charge. Significantly, that crime carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. In the transcript of the October 30 hearing, the assistant state’s attorney declared, when relating his conversation with the victim, “I explained to her that, as I told her when I met her in person, that there are no mandatory minimums here.” Transcipt, pp 5,6

Seventh, and finally for now, we are concerned that there is also a second, separate case pending against this defendant; the first case cited above. That case has appeared 17 times on the G.A.’s docket and is listed on the website as “awaiting disposition” on January 8, 2020, the same date as the instant case. Reports of the allegations in that case are also very troubling; in our opinion it was a criminal step along the way to the frightening violence in the latter case. During the plea hearing, the assistant state’s attorney declared, when relating his conversation with the victim, “I explained to her that…certainly, under the circumstances, there’s no prior criminal record for Mr. Molleur, and this was a potential disposition.” Transcript, pp.5, 6. However, this seems somewhat misleading to the victim in the assault case, given that other charges were and are still pending. Is seems highly unusual that a subsequent, very violent case with serious injuries would be resolved when a case of the nature of the prior G.A. one is still pending.

Moreover, it seems very odd to us that this separate pending case was literally ignored in the October 30 plea agreement hearing, as well as apparently in your office’s interactions with the victim in the instant case. While it is unclear based on the record whether a plea agreement has been reached in that case, as well, it seems coincidental at least that both may be scheduled for “disposition” on the same day. If in fact an agreement has been reached in that case as well, that would lead to additional concerns about whether the rights of the victim in that separate case have been adequately protected.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. Given the length of and troubling circumstances surrounding the plea deal discussed herein, we strongly urge you to take whatever actions are necessary and possible to prevent this unjust outcome to a horrifically violent, and confessed to, assault that has been perpetrated on a vulnerable member of our community.

Thank you.

Senator James Maroney
Representative Kim Rose
Representative Charles Ferraro
Representative Kathy Kennedy

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