State v. Jesse H.
In State v. DeJesus, the 2008 Connecticut Supreme Court determined that evidence of prior uncharged misconduct is admissible in sex crime cases if three conditions are satisfied, including that the uncharged misconduct is not too remote in time from the charged conduct. Jesse H. was married to the biological grandmother of an 18-year-old girl. When the grandmother traveled to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, the teenager stayed with Jesse H. She alleged that Jesse H. sexually assaulted her by forcing her to engage in vaginal intercourse. Jesse H. was arrested and charged. A jury trial ensued. The state sought to admit propensity testimony. Before admitting the testimony, the court conducted an in camera hearing. The witness, then 25, testified that she was approximately 17 years old and the stepdaughter of the defendant at the time of the uncharged misconduct. The court found the uncharged misconduct "strikingly similar" to the charged offenses and found the evidence relevant and admissible. The court provided a limiting instruction as to the proper use of the testimony. Jesse H. was convicted on counts of sexual assault in the first and fourth degree. He appealed, claiming that the trial court improperly allowed the uncharged misconduct testimony. He contended that such testimony should have been excluded as not relevant because it was too remote. The Appellate Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. The six year gap between the cessation of the prior misconduct in approximately 2003 and the beginning of the charged conduct in 2009 was not too remote. The Supreme Court has held that a gap of nine and 10 years was not too remote. In the 2012 case of State v. Antonaras, the Appellate Court concluded that a gap of 12 years was not too remote when there was a significant similarity between the uncharged misconduct and charged conduct. Given such precedent and the trial court's finding of a "striking similarity" between the two events, it could not be concluded that the trial court erred in finding the uncharged misconduct evidence relevant in this case.