State v. Van Allen
A violation of Connecticut General Statutes §53a-63, pertaining to reckless endangerment, requires evidence that the defendant created a risk of serious physical injury to another and, here, the jury reasonably could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant created a risk of serious physical injury to the occupants of a car from evidence that he, during a heated argument, pointed a loaded handgun at a driver seated in close proximity to passengers and then shot the gun into the air multiple times. The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. Ruth Whaley had a child with Joseph VanAllen. She drove to VanAllen's apartment to pick up the then 2-year-old child, joined by Camilla and Nicole Williams. Camilla Williams secured the child in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle. VanAllen and Whaley argued. While standing next to the driver's side door where Whaley was seated, VanAllen pointed a handgun at Whaley's head. He then pointed the gun in the air and fired shots. Whaley drove away. Following a jury trial, VanAllen was convicted of multiple crimes including criminal possession of a firearm, risk of injury to a child and two counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree. He appealed claiming, inter alia, that the court improperly denied his motion for a judgment of acquittal on the risk of injury and reckless endangerment counts. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. The defendant contended that the evidence did not support a finding that the discharged bullets or shell casings could have caused physical harm to the car occupants. The Appellate Court found that the evidence amply supported a finding that the defendant, just outside of Whaley's automobile pointed an operable, loaded handgun at Whaley's head while she was seated in close proximity to his daughter and other occupants. He did so during a heated argument with Whaley. From this evidence, the jury reasonably could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant created a risk of serious physical injury to Whaley and Camilla Williams. The jury also could have found beyond a reasonable doubt, to support the risk of injury charge, that the defendant created a situation that endangered the life and limb of his daughter.