State v. Ward
The Connecticut Supreme Courts 2008 decision in State v. Salamon established that in such kidnapping cases the key question is not whether the victim was confined or restrained for a lengthy period of time or moved a significant distance, but whether the confinement or movement was incidental to and necessary for the commission of another crime. A jury found James Ward guilty of sexual assault and kidnapping in the first degree in violation of C.G.S. §53a-92(a)(2)(A). The trial court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict as to the sexual assault charge but granted the defendants motion for judgment of acquittal on the kidnapping charge finding that the state had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to prevent the victims liberation for a longer period of time or a greater degree than necessary to commit the sexual assault, as required by Salamon. The state appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment on the kidnapping charge alone and remanded the case with direction to render judgment in accordance with the verdict. The evidence established that the defendant approached the victim from behind in her kitchen, wrapped his arms around her, held a knife sharpening tool to her neck, threatened her and dragged her into the bedroom, pushed her on the bed and then the floor. He laid on top of her, stuck his tongue in her mouth, rubbed his penis against her vagina and ejaculated on her stomach. Although the victim estimated she was in the bedroom for 10 to 15 minutes she believed the entire sexual assault lasted only two minutes. The Supreme Court concluded that the jury reasonably could have found that the defendants confinement or movement of the victim was not merely incidental to the sexual assault. The victim testified that she could not escape because the defendant was twice her size and held her very tightly. By moving her away from the kitchen door, the defendant made the possibility of escape even more remote. The jury reasonably could have concluded that the defendant could have sexually assaulted the victim without threatening to kill her or holding the tool to her neck and that the force used exceeded the amount necessary to commit the assault.