Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not Induced By Affection

The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the conclusion that certain communications were not inadmissible due to marital privilege

The defendant, Sheila Davalloo, was convicted, after a jury trial, of murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54a. The defendant appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming that conviction after concluding that her statements to her husband, Paul Christos, did not fall within the protection of § 54-84b. State v. Davalloo, 153 Conn. App. 419, 436, 449, 101 A.3d 355 (2014). Because we conclude that the defendant’s statements were not ‘‘induced by the affection, confidence, loyalty and integrity of the marital relationship,’’ as § 54-84b (a) requires, we hold that the statements were not protected by the marital communications privilege.

The players

This case involves a love triangle that took a deadly turn. The defendant became infatuated with Nelson Sessler, her coworker at Purdue Pharma, Inc., a pharmaceutical company in Stamford. State v. Davalloo, supra, 153 Conn. App. 421. The victim, Anna Lisa Raymundo, also was a fellow Purdue Pharma, Inc., employee and the third member of the love triangle. Id. In late 2000, Sessler met Raymundo at an after work happy hour and, in the summer of 2001, Sessler met the defendant for the first time at another after work happy hour. The defendant told Sessler that she was divorced, although she was still married to Christos. Sessler began separate sexual relationships with both the defendant and Raymundo. Id.

The story gets complicated but ends up with the murder of Ms. Raymundo and, later, the defendant's stabbing of her husband Mr. Christos with a knife.

His testimony against his wife was properly admitted.

The trial court analysis

...the court heard arguments relating to the motions in limine and ruled that ‘‘ ‘these statements . . . were not made in furtherance or induced by affection, confidence, loyalty, and integrity of the relationship; quite the contrary. It is just the opposite. The statements made to the run-up of the murder of [Raymundo], the description of a faux triangle, again, for lack of a better word, it would be bizarre to classify those as in furtherance of the sanctity of the marital relationship. The plan here was to do in a potential third party suitor of [Sessler] . . . and, ultimately, [Christos], have him removed from the scene either by way of divorce and/or physically remove him from the scene. And, in fact, this defendant was convicted of the attempted murder of her husband in those [New York] proceedings. So, those statements leading up to the runup in this triangle and whatnot for various reasons don’t fall within the purview of the marital privilege. To rule that way would be . . . bizarre. Statements after the death of Raymundo to accommodate the relationship with Sessler fall in the same category, as well as the statements leading up to and relative to the attack and attempted murder of [Christos].’ ’’ Id., 430. The trial court further stated that, ‘‘[t]o argue that these [statements] were in furtherance of the marital relationship defies common sense, are in fact bizarre, and could only be applicable to some parallel universe . . . with which I am not acquainted.’’ The court then granted the state’s motion and denied the defendant’s motion.

Murderpedia has this entry. Dateline NBC has a series of videos on the case. (Mike Frisch)

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