State v. Moore
Under Connecticut law, the state is not required to prove that a defendant actually possessed a firearm to obtain a conviction for robbery in the first degree under Connecticut General Statutes §53a-134(a)(4). In connection with a bank robbery, Joseph Moore was convicted, following a jury trial, of robbery in the first degree in violation of C.G.S. §53a-134(a)(4) and commission of a class B felony with a firearm in violation of C.G.S. §53-202k. For a part B information, Moore stipulated that he committed the offenses while on release contravening C.G.S. §53a-40b and pleaded guilty to being a persistent felony offender under C.G.S. §53a-40(f). He appealed claiming, first, that the court improperly denied his motion for a judgment of acquittal because the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to establish that he threatened the use of a firearm during the robbery. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. A reasonable view of the evidence plainly existed that supported the jury's finding that the defendant threatened the use of a firearm during the robbery. Three bank employees testified that the defendant entered the bank, wrote on a deposit slip and handed the slip to a teller. Photographs of the defendant engaging in that act were introduced into evidence along with the deposit slip containing the handwritten message "Give cash. I have gun." The bank witnesses verified that the slip was the note the defendant used. They testified that because the defendant indicated that he had a gun they immediately complied with his demand. The jury was free to credit that evidence and reasonably could conclude that the defendant threatened the use of a firearm through his words and conduct and represented that he possessed a firearm. The state was not required to prove, as contended, that the defendant actually possessed a firearm for his robbery conviction and enhanced sentence under C.G.S. §53-202k. The defendant's second claim also was rejected that his sentence enhancement under C.G.S. §53a-40(f) ran afoul of the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court case of Apprendi v. New Jersey and its progeny, as the court, not a jury, allegedly considered certain factors. When a defendant knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently pleads guilty to a sentence enhancement provision, he waives any right to a jury trial thereon.